Transitional deacons urged to nurture a servant’s heart

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann stands with newly ordained transitional deacons Justin Hamilton, left, and Viet Nguyen following their ordination on May 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas. PHOTO BY LABADIE COMMUNICATIONS

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The ordination of two of the archdiocese’s newest deacons was a solemn occasion, but not without its light moments.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann said in his homily that one of the two men being ordained — Quoc-Viet Minh Nguyen — was originally a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“We’re very grateful always to have Archbishop [Emeritus James Patrick] Keleher with us,” said Archbishop Naumann. “We were glad he was at Mundelein [Seminary] this spring to whisper in Viet’s ear, ‘Come home to Kansas, come home to Kansas.’”

Viet Nguyen, 26, a member of Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood, and Justin Hamilton, 28, who grew up a member of Christ the King and Sacred Heart-St. Joseph parishes in Topeka, were ordained transitional deacons on May 20 at the Cathedral of St. Peter.

Both Deacon Hamilton and Deacon Nguyen studied at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary, in Mundelein, Illinois.

Unlike members of the class of permanent deacons that will be ordained for the archdiocese in early June, these two men are transitional deacons.

Although brief, the transitional diaconate is an important step toward ordination to the priesthood. The diaconate is one of the three ranks of clergy: deacon, priest and bishop.

Whether permanent or transitional, all deacons are authorized to preach, assist the priest at Mass, baptize, preside at funerals and witness marriages. They also engage in works of charity and mercy.

“The diaconate is not, however, just some interim phase you’re passing through,” said Archbishop Naumann in his homily. “Your ministry — God willing, as priests in a short while — will be lifeless and impotent if you do not always preserve the servant heart of a deacon, where no task is too trivial or menial, making tangible the love of Jesus for his people.”

Archbishop Naumann was the homilist, main celebrant and ordaining minister. In his homily, he acknowledged the parents of the two ordinands, their families and all those who helped the two men as they discerned their way to the diaconate and eventual ordination to the priesthood.

In particular, he recognized the very large representation of the Vietnamese-American community.

“We’re also grateful for the presence of Father Lac D. Pham [CPPS], the priest who baptized Viet, and Father Hanh Trong Phan, who has provided pastoral care and priestly ministry for many years to the Vietnamese community in the Kansas City metropolitan area,” said the archbishop. “We pray for the presence of the priests, religious and many lay members of the Vietnamese Catholic community who have played such an important role in Viet’s spiritual formation.”

Deacon Hamilton has been assigned to Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood and will be acting chaplain of Bishop Miege High School in Roeland Park until his priestly ordination in November.

Deacon Nguyen will be in ministry at Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe and return to seminary formation this fall. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest in June 2018, the same month his father, Paul Nguyen, will be ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

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