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LEFT TO RIGHT: Andres Rivera, Ismael Valenzuela Salazar, Bishop Alberto Rojas, Bishop Emeritus Gerald Barnes, Michael Arịnze Ezeoke and Jorge Tellez.

Four men were ordained to the transitional diaconate in a Mass at Queen of Angels, Riverside, on Dec. 18. The transitional diaconate is for men in seminary formation as a step along on the way to becoming priests.

The new deacons are Michael Arịnze Ezeoke, Andres Rivera, Jorge Tellez and Ismael Valenzuela Salazar. Below, the four new deacons share their thoughts as they complete this newest milestone in their formation journey.

Arịnze Michael Ezeoke: “I’m called to the ministry of service at a time when many are facing many ups and downs. I’m trusting that God, who in his Divine Mercy and steadfast love has chosen to call me at this time, will empower me to serve according to God’s will and direction.”

Andres Rivera: “Years ago I fell in love with the local Church of San Bernardino, where I was able to recognize God’s presence in his people. It is a great honor now that I’m being ordained a deacon to serve this community in a new way.

I pray God will grant me the grace to serve faithfully and continue on the path toward priesthood.”

Jorge Téllez: “Diaconate ordination for me is the call to service in the mission of Christ, the servant. I will exercise my final months as a Deacon at St. John’s within our seminary community. I look forward to serving at my home parish in Riverside and internship parish Saint Margaret Mary on weekends home.”

Ismael Valenzuela-Salazar: “Receiving the sacramental grace of the diaconate makes me experience joy and gratitude to God for calling me to this ministry of service. My thankfulness is also to my Bishop Alberto Rojas and so many people who have supported me throughout my entire seminary formation.

This consecration to God is an incentive to continue growing in prayer and healing to teach, preach and serve the Church of Christ in San Bernardino in a better and more compassionate way.”