Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will ordain the following seminarians to the priesthood:
- Sheunesu Bowora
- Dan Connealy
- Ryan Lee
- David Loeffler
When: 10 a.m., Saturday, June 11
Where: St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 13720 W. Thomas Rd., Avondale
Transitional Deacon Ordination
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will ordain the following seminarians to the transitional diaconate:
- Frank Cicero
- Daniel Cruz
- Timothy Seavey
When: 9 a.m., Sunday, May 29
Where: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave.
Watch it live on AZTV Channel 7 / Cable 13 or youtube.com/phoenixdiocese.
By Joyce Coronel
The Catholic Sun
For four men of the Diocese of Phoenix, June 11 will mark a day of both ending and new beginnings.
That’s because their years of seminary study and formation are over. They’ll enter St. Thomas Aquinas Parish that day as transitional deacons and leave as ordained priests after Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted imposes hands on them.
It’s been a long road for Dcn. Dan Connealy, Dcn. David Loeffler, Dcn. Ryan Lee and Dcn. Sheunesu Bowora. Fr. Paul Sullivan, director of the Office of Vocations, said it’s the most priests to be ordained for the Phoenix Diocese since 2007. That year there were six. Last year, there was one.
“They are four distinct personalities. They’re all very different and have their own gifts,” Fr. Sullivan said. Dcn. Bowora comes from Zimbabwe and was a pilot. He’s a little older than the others. Dcn. Lee heard the call during his third year of college and Dcn. Loeffner was discerning throughout his studies at Steubenville. Dcn. Connealy walked away from a Division 1 athletic world of swimming to go to seminary.
“The Church always needs pastors but at the same time, for each of these guys, it’s their own personal journey, moving toward where God has led them,” Fr. Sullivan said.
Last year, the four men were each ordained to the transitional diaconate. Dcn. James Trant, director of the Office of the Diaconate, spoke to The Catholic Sun about the difference between the transitional and permanent diaconate.
“The priests become deacons as part of their formation, moving toward ordination as a priest. They are called transitional deacons, which means they are deacons for a period of time,” Dcn. Trant said. “All priests and all bishops, even the Holy Father, the pope, have been deacons.”
Three men of the diocese are candidates for the transitional diaconate: Frank Cicero and Daniel Cruz, both students at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver; and Timothy Seavey, a seminarian at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.
Dcn. Doug Bogart, associate director of education and formation for the Office of the Diaconate, explained the sacrament of Holy Orders as it applies to deacons.
“A deacon is ordained to be an icon of Christ the servant and to show sacramentally what all in the Church are called to be — servants,” Dcn. Bogart said.
Deacons are called to administer the charitable works of the Church and can baptize, witness marriages, perform funeral and burial services outside of Mass and proclaim the Gospel and preach a homily at Mass. When they are ordained priests, they can celebrate the sacraments of the Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.
The four transitional deacons who will prostrate themselves on the floor in front of the altar June 11 are ready and excited to serve.
Dcn. Lee was a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish before entering seminary. “To become a priest of the Lord for Phoenix, the home diocese, is beyond words. It’s just so many emotions put together there’s no way to describe it completely,” he said.
As a transitional deacon, he’s enjoyed preaching and baptizing.
“At that first baptism, I thought to myself, ‘Is this really me doing this? Is this what the Lord has chosen me for? I am not worthy.’ That was the main thought, I am not worthy,” he said.
Dcn. Loeffler grew up in Yuma and now claims St. Paul as his home parish. He said he has enjoyed his year as a transitional deacon and has wanted to be a priest since his earliest years.
“The thing about being ordained is, I get front-row seats to all kinds of cool stuff that God’s doing in people’s lives. It’s awesome. I’ve done a handful of baptisms, not a whole lot, but a few, and those are always very joyful.”