by Joe Bollig
TOPEKA — In a church crowded with family, friends, well-wishers, religious and members of the presbyterate, the four newest transitional deacons of the archdiocese were charged with living a life of “prophetic witness of celibate chastity” to a confused world.
Adam Wilczak, Jaime Zarse, Mark Ostrowski, and Anthony Saiki were ordained to the diaconate on May 18 at Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish in Topeka. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was the homilist and ordaining minister.
Among those assisting were several seminarians, 13 deacons, 39 priests and Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher. The master of ceremonies was Msgr. Gary Applegate.
Because they are considered to be “transitional,” the time the four men will spend in the diaconate before their priestly ordinations will be brief.
They will return to their studies and, if all goes according to plan, be ordained to the priesthood next spring. Nevertheless, the diaconate has great importance in that it is the foundation of the three ranks of clergy: deacon, priest and bishop.
The duties of the deacon can include proclaiming the Gospel and preaching at Mass; baptizing; witnessing marriages; presiding at funeral vigils, liturgies and graveside services; and other liturgical duties. Deacons also perform many kinds of special assignments at the behest of the bishop. As clerics, they are obliged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann spoke to the four about the promises they would soon make.
“You make many promises to the church today,” said the archbishop, “to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed, to be men of prayer who pray daily for the church, to serve the poor and the needy, [and] to be obedient to the church — to me, your bishop, and my successors.”
Although each of those promises was worthy of lengthy reflection, he said he would concentrate his words on their most countercultural promise: to live lives of celibate chastity.
“The church asks of her priests to make this commitment to celibate chastity, not because she does not value the beauty and importance of Christian marriage and Christian family life,” said Archbishop Naumann. “No, just the opposite. The church recognizes Christian marriage as a call to heroic love that is not only a noble vocation, but an essential one in God’s plan for humanity and his church.”
The church asks its ordained ministers to set aside opportunities for Christian marriage and family life as a prophetic witness to that which is more important than even happiness and intimacy in Christian marriage, and that is intimacy with God.
“Celibate chastity is a bold proclamation — not just in words, but by the very life of the deacon and priest to place God first, to give God primacy in our lives,” said the archbishop.
Celibate chastity is a bold witness to a world that confuses physical sexual intimacy with love, and has experienced the morally corrosive effects and consequences of the sexual revolution.
“The prophetic witness of celibate chastity is an antidote to the madness of making pleasure our god,” he said. “Happy celibate priests are a contradiction to the proposition that sex is essential for happiness.”
Celibacy does not mean embracing a life of loneliness, but a life of authentic love. It is not a retreat into a “cold bachelorhood,” but charging into the world as heralds of true love.
“Priests are not called to be fearful recluses running from the world, but passionate lovers striving to ignite the flame of faith in the hearts of others,” said Archbishop Naumann.
During the promise of the elect, each of the four men stood and pledged to fulfill the duties of the diaconate. After this, they knelt before the archbishop to pledge their obedience to him and his successors. Next, the ordinandi prostrated themselves on the floor before the altar during the Litany of the Saints. After this, each man approached the archbishop and knelt to receive the laying on of hands. When they each received the Book of the Gospels, Archbishop Naumann charged them to “believe what you read, teach what you read, and practice what you teach.”
At this point, the new deacons were vested with their stole and dalmatic. Deacon Wilczak was vested by Father Jerry Volz; Deacon Zarse was vested by Father Mitchel Zimmerman; Deacon Ostrowski was vested by Father Brian Fischer; and Deacon Saiki was vested by Father Michael Stubbs and Msgr. Timothy Cronin.
Each newly vested deacon was welcomed and embraced by the other deacons present. Each of the four newly ordained deacons then joined their brother clerics at the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
A reception was held for the new deacons in the parish hall after the Mass and ordination.
Deacon Adam Wilczak
Parents: Ronald and Deborah Wilczak
Parish: St. Matthew, Topeka
Education: Hayden High, Topeka. Started at Benedictine, transferred to Washburn University in Topeka, then finished last 3 years at Benedictine and graduated with a degree in theology in 2007.
Seminary: Entered the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in fall 2009.
Deacon Jaime Zarse
Parents: Robert and Alicia Zarse
Born: Joplin, Mo.
Hometown: Overland Park
Parish: Prince of Peace, Olathe
Education: St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park; Marquette University from 2005 to 2007; University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2007.
Seminary: Entered Kenrick-Glennon in St. Louis in fall of 2010.
Deacon Mark Ostrowski
Parents: John and Kathleen Ostrowski
Parish: Sacred Heart – St. Joseph
Education: Home-schooled; graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison with a bachelor’s in religious studies and history, and minors in music and philosophy.
Seminary: Entered Kenrick-Glennon in St. Louis in fall of 2008.
Deacon Anthony Saiki
Parents: John and Virginia Saiki
Parish: St. Paul, Olathe
Education: Home-schooled through high school; one year at Johnson County. Community College
Seminary: Entered Kenrick-Glennon in St. Louis in August 2007.