“Maybe it’s not an accident at all but providential that this is the day you are being ordained.”
These were the words spoken by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa June 19 as Frankie Cicero was ordained to the transitional diaconate.
Dcn. Cicero was originally scheduled to be ordained alongside Dcns. Tim Seavey and Daniel Cruz three weeks earlier on May 29 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, but instead spent that day in the hospital, watching the ceremony as it streamed live.
Born with a rare abdominal disorder, he’s had multiple surgeries and hospitalizations throughout his life.
“You’ve known suffering in your life, as has your family,” Bishop Olmsted said in his homily. God asks His followers to embrace their cross, and “that’s part and parcel of ordained ministry, but it’s also part and parcel of being a follower of Jesus through baptism.”
The moment Bishop Olmsted uttered the words of ordination, Dcn. Cicero said he experienced “immense joy that I could offer my life to the one that I love, Jesus Christ, in a concrete way … to confirm through this public act my love for the Lord and wanting to give my ‘I love you’ for the rest of my life.”
Dcn. Cicero’s father, Martin, lost his battle with terminal cancer three years ago while his son was in the seminary.
“Before my father died, he came to me and said, ‘Frankie, I’m scared. All I want to do is see Jesus. Make sure I see Jesus.’” After reassuring his father that he would make certain a priest would be there with the sacraments, Frankie had his own request to make.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Dad can you do something for me? When you see Jesus, can you make sure that I’m a good priest? Can you get me to the altar, Dad?’ He said, ‘I promise you, I’ll never stop.’”
So when his ordination to the diaconate wound up taking place on Fathers’ Day, many saw providence at work, including Dcn. Cicero. He felt his dad whisper to him in prayer that he hadn’t forgotten his promise.
At St. Augustine Parish where Dcn. Cicero is serving for the summer, the seminarian has been busy preaching, baptizing, serving daily Mass, witnessing marriage vows and blessing homes — all in Spanish. He didn’t grow up bilingual but has been studying Spanish since last year.
“I want to place myself in the hands of the bishop as a good bridge of being able to be sent anywhere and to bring the Lord in the culture and the language that people encounter Him in, whether that’s English or that’s Spanish,” Dcn. Cicero said.