Family, friends and strangers alike witnessed Christopher Gossen, 33, ordained to the diaconate May 27 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
“Now Chris my son, you are to be raised to the Order of the Diaconate,” said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in his homily. “By God’s providence this is taking place on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a great day to be ordained.”
Earlier, the bishop spoke generally on the role of a deacon. “Strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, you will help the bishop and the priests in the ministry of the word, the altar and charity.”
With the rite, Bishop Olmsted also outlined a variety of different duties for the deacon: proclaiming the Gospel, preparing for the sacrifice of the Mass, distributing the Lord’s Body and Blood, exhorting believers and non-believers alike, instructing them in holy doctrine, baptizing, presiding in public prayer, assisting and blessing marriages, bringing Viaticum (Holy Communion) to the dying and conducting funeral rights.
The prelate also spoke of a “divine life and a divine love” that created Gossen and built on the theme of God’s love. “Divine love led you in the desert and spoke to your heart. Divine love set you free from sin and fear,” said Bishop Olmsted.
After turning to the earlier scriptures and St. Paul, the bishop referenced an apparent vocational call for Gossen.
“At the moment you surrendered to love, that is to God, you began to walk in the freedom, the freedom that allows you to accept the invitation of Jesus: ‘Come follow me, I will make you a fisher of men.’”
Directly after the homily, Bishop Olmsted asked Gossen a series of commitment questions such as keeping forever to remain celibate and praying with and for the people of God and also the whole world in the Liturgy of the Hours. Soon after, the choir, celebrants and congregation sang the Litany of Saints, and soon after that Bishop Olmsted ordained Dcn. Gossen with the laying on of hands.
Right after the Prayer of Ordination, Dcn. Gossen was invested with a diaconal stole and dalmatic (outer vestment) and he assisted at his Ordination Mass, including distributing Holy Communion.
Dcn. Gossen’s family, including grandparents, had seats reserved in the first couple rows of the cathedral. After Mass, Dcn. Gossen’s parents, Jerry and Tina Gossen, spoke to the Sun.
“It’s a culmination of a long journey for my son, and blessed journey,” said Jerry adding that they look forward to the coming year, where Dcn. Gossen will serve parishes in the Denver area where he attends St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and to next June 1, the day which Dcn. Gossen is scheduled to be ordained a priest.
When asked his thoughts on seeing the bishop laying his hands on his son and him serving at Mass as a deacon, Jerry paused and said “blessed.”
“It was scary too,” continued Jerry, laughing. “He’s your son and you’ve given him up to the Lord, and that’s basically what his mother and I have done.”
“I just feel really happy for Christopher because he’s doing what he loves and that’s his calling,” added Tina.
Before he met a steady stream of supporters at a reception following the Mass, Dcn. Gossen reflected receiving the sacrament.
“It was (an) absolutely beautiful Mass, very surreal,” said Dcn. Gossen. “I went in with no expectations and God’s grace just came down and filled me with so much joy and peace, and it was a beautiful day.”
Dcn. Gossen noted that the Mass went faster than he expected and the beautiful words of the Bishop’s consecration prayer.
“The moment that everything really hit was praying for the saints in the litany of the saints,” said Dcn. Gossen. “That was the biggest, biggest moment of just peace and joy that came over me, knowing that all the saints in heaven are praying for me as well right now.”