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NEW DEACONS Bishop Alberto Rojas ordained 11 permanent deacons and two transitional deacons on Aug. 27 at St. James the Less, Perris. Back row, left to right: Robert Gonzalez, Ricardo Garcia, Juan Ramirez, David Arias, Bernardo Agustin, Francisco Sanchez, Jose Fidel Canovas, Julian Plascencia. Front row, left to right: Roberto Hernandez, Vicente Gonzalez, Ulises Miranda, Bishop Alberto Rojas, Bishop Emeritus Gerald Barnes, Jose Gomez, Carlos Flores. TOP MIDDLE: Bishop Rojas ordains Juan Ramirez to the Permanent Diaconate. TOP RIGHT: Bishop Rojas blesses new permanent deacon Bernardo Agustin. BOTTOM RIGHT: The deacons lie prostrate before their Ordination.

A packed church joyfully celebrated the ordination of 13 new deacons – 11 permanent and two transitional – on Aug. 27 at St. James the Less in Perris.

The new transitional deacons are Carlos Flores (whose home parish is Sacred Heart, Riverside) and Julian Plascencia (whose home parish is St. Christopher, Moreno Valley). The transitional diaconate is a final stage of formation before ordination to the priesthood. Flores and Placencia are expected to be ordained as priests next May.

The new permanent deacons are Bernardo Agustin (from St. Junipero Serra, Phelan), David George Arias (from Sacred Heart, Rancho Cucamonga), Jose Fidel Canovas (from The Holy Name of Jesus, Redlands), Ricardo Garcia (from Sacred Heart, Palm Desert), Jose M. Gomez (from St. James the Less, Perris), Robert Gonzalez (from St. Mary, Fontana), Vicente M. Gonzalez (from St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Beaumont/Banning), Roberto A. Hernandez (from Sacred Heart, Rancho Cucamonga), Ulises B. Miranda (from Holy Innocents, Victorville), Juan Ramirez (from St. George, Ontario) and Francisco A. Sanchez (from the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mecca).

“It is important to remember that this calling is not about you, but it is about Jesus in you for others,” Bishop Alberto Rojas told the men during the Mass.

“God has chosen you, Jesus has sent you, and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you and lead you to bring your good work to fruition. Thank you for your generous ‘yes’ to the mission of Christ Jesus. We love you and we will always keep you in our hearts and our prayers,” he said.

Above all, Bishop Rojas said, the diaconate is a ministry of service. “St. John Paul II said this: By the standards of this world, servanthood is despised. But in the wisdom and providence of God, it is the mystery through which Christ redeems the world... you are becoming ministers of this very mystery.

“There are beautiful moments and there are moments that are challenging, but just remember: you are not alone. You are given the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus walks with you,” said Bishop Rojas.

During the Rite of Ordination of Deacons, the men to be ordained deacons presented themselves before the congregation and pledged obedience to the Bishop. As they were announced as worthy candidates for Ordination, the congregation broke out into enthusiastic applause in support.

Just before the Laying of Hands, the men lay prostrate on the floor as the choir sung the Litany of Saints, calling upon the holy men and women of the Church to pray for the men as they prepared to receive this Sacrament. With the Laying of Hands, the men became deacons. They were given the stole and dalmatic, vestments of a deacon, and given a Book of the Gospels to signify their role of proclaiming the Word. After a Kiss of Peace among clergy, Mass proceeded as usual.

After Communion, the newly ordained Deacon Robert Gonzalez, Deacon Roberto Hernandez and Deacon Carlos Flores took to the podium to give some remarks on behalf of all the new deacons. The three men thanked the many who had played a part in their formation journey, including the Office of Deacons, Bishop Rojas and the other bishops and priests, Serra House Rector, Father Jorge Garcia, their wives (for the permanent deacons) and everyone who has prayed for them. They asked for continued prayers as they now begin life as a deacon.

Deacon Gonzalez took a moment to address his fellow deacons directly, saying, “It has been a true honor for me to have walked this journey with all of you. God chose each and every one of us to serve his people with the gifts he has given us. I have never met a humbler, more giving group of men in my life.”

Bishop Rojas then added a few words to thank the many who had made the Ordination service so beautiful and prayerful. He then announced the assignments for the permanent deacons. Roberto A. Hernandez will be assigned to St. Anthony, Upland, while the other 10 permanent deacons will be assigned to their home parishes for some time. As of press time, assignments have not been made for the new transitional deacons, Carlos Flores and Julian Plascencia.