Phoenix seminarians Nathaniel Glenn, Marvin Soto and Gabriel Terrill pose for a photo after their Oct. 3 ordination to the diaconate. The trio are finishing their final year of formation in Rome and, God-willing, will return next June for their priestly ordination. (PNAC Photo Service)

NOTE: All photos were taken by seminarians Kyle Poje, Matthew Pearson and Guillermo Jimenez via PNAC Photo Service

Three Phoenix seminarians knelt at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in Rome Oct. 3 as a U.S. bishop ordained them and 28 others deacons in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter.

Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine ordained Deacons Nathaniel Glenn, Marvin Soto and Gabriel Terrill, among other students at the Pontifical North American College.

  • (PNAC Photo Service)

Among their classmates were another trio of seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington, two from the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, one seminarian each from 14 other U.S. dioceses and seven other U.S. archdioceses, the Virgin Islands and the Archdiocese of Sydney.

In his homily, Bishop Deeley spoke to those being ordained about living a “life rooted in the Gospel.” He held up St. Francis of Assisi — himself a deacon whose feast-day is Oct. 4 — as an exemplar of living such a life. Like St. Francis, a deacon must give everything to God and know himself to be “loved, chosen and called to serve,” Bishop Deeley said, where his spiritual source of consolation and joy lies.

A deacon is called to “bring this ever important message of God’s love, which they have first received, to others,” he continued. That mission requires being someone who is “filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom,” and constantly seeks to sanctify himself by faithful obedience to his diaconal promises and service to the greater community.

  • (PNAC Photo service)

Dcn. Marvin Soto credited the Holy Spirit for filling him with joy throughout his Ordination.

There was a moment when I looked up to see the image of the Holy Spirit over the altar and felt secure in the knowledge that God was the one inspiring, strengthening and leading my vocation,” Dcn. Soto said. “He is the one, in fact, who cares for the entire Church, for our own diocese.

He looks forward to an Arizona homecoming where, God-willing, he will continue to serve God and His people. For now, he and the other seminarian deacons will spend the remaining academic year living an ordained life in Rome.

The deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their diocesan bishop. They are amid their final year of theological studies in Rome. God-willing, priestly ordinations are next May and June in their home dioceses.

If “you sanctify yourself, you will sanctify society,” said Bishop Deeley, who like Phoenix’s Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, was ordained in 1973.

Fr. Vinhson Nguyen and Fr. Fernando Camou of Phoenix pose with Phoenix seminarians after their diaconate ordination. (PNAC Photo Service)

A delegation from the Diocese of Phoenix attended the ordination as part of a pilgrimage to Italy being led by Vocations Director Fr. Paul Sullivan. Other diocesan clerics participating included Frs. Fernando Camou, Daniel Cruz, Vinhson Nguyen and Kurt Perera and Dcn. Estevan Wetzel, who is also eyeing a June 2020 priestly ordination.

Also attending were the deacons’ family and friends.That included a pilgrimage group led by Fr. Chad King, pastor of Corpus Christi, which is Dcn. Glenns home parish. Bishop Deeley expressed gratitude for their encouragement in the mens response to God’s invitation.

Dcn. Glenn said he loved listening along and praying with the consecratory prayer of Ordination. To hear them prayed over you and for you, bestowing the grace of orders to you, is a unique experience.

What filled his heart with the most joy, however, was making the promises of obedience, chaste celibacy and prayer. Dcn. Glenn ensured he was purposely present and aware of what he was doing and the promises he was undertaking.

I remember breaking out into a grin immediately after promising celibacy because, rather than feeling the weight of a burden or loss of freedom, I realized — and still do — that celibacy is a gift to me from the Lord that frees me and allows me to follow him more fully, in the particular way that he chose for me and my life, Dcn. Glenn said several days post-Ordination and after his diaconal duties as a Mass in Rome celebrated by Phoenixs Fr. Cruz.

Our promises before the Church do not contract or restrict our lifes fulfillment, but rather open us out more profoundly to God and his particular love for us. Our commitments set us free.”

Dcn. Terrill found the entire Ordination Mass moving, but pointed to two moments in particular: prostration and laying on of hands. Dcn. Terrill was fully present during prostration noting “that in laying down I was surrendering my old self and in rising, I took up the ministry of deacon. With such simplicity and clarity, I felt great peace and courage to live out my new life as a transitional deacon,” he said. It was the big “yes” after seven years of preparation.

The laying on of hands by the bishop also moved him. “I got goosebumps,” Dcn. Terrill said. “In that moment, time seemed to slow down, and I prayed to God that he would give me the grace and strength necessary to be a good deacon, and one day a good priest.”