by Joe Bollig
TOPEKA — The ordination of two men to the transitional diaconate on May 22 at St. Matthew Parish here was a time of thanksgiving — not only for the commitment of the two men, but also for the role played by their families.
In his homily, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann thanked all who helped form Deacon Andrew Edward Gaffney and Deacon Sudeep Kodigandla in the Catholic faith, but especially their parents.
Deacon Gaffney, 27, is the son of John and Lori Gaffney, members of St. Matthew Parish. He has three younger sisters.
Deacon Kodigandla, 30, is the son of Dominic and Puspavathi Kodigandla, members of L.R.G. in Anantapur, India. He has two brothers — one older, one younger.
“I want to begin by first thanking not Andrew and Sudeep, but their parents,” said the archbishop. “We’re grateful for your parents for forming you, their sons, and for all your families — your grandparents, brothers, cousins, nephews, sisters — for helping to form you into the men you are today.”
Despite restrictions on the number of people who could attend the ordination Mass, some of those relatives were present, except for the parents of Deacon Kodigandla. Restrictions on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic racing through India was only one reason.
“Unfortunately, Sudeep, your father Dominic died just in the last year. And we’re grateful your mother is able to join us at least through livestream, which we’ve all become more familiar with during this time.”
The absence of family underlined the additional sacrifices and challenges Deacon Kodigandla faces on his journey to the priesthood.
“It’s a challenge for anyone today to embrace a call to the ordained ministry and to the priesthood, but that challenge is only magnified when you come from another country and culture,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“So, I’m very grateful to Sudeep for his willingness to come and to immerse himself into our crazy American society and give up closeness to family, friends and your homeland,” he added. “So, thank you Sudeep for this, and for answering this call from the Lord to follow him in this special way, but to do that in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.”
The ordination rite took place after the reading of the Gospel. As the two men were called forward, Father Scott Wallisch, co-director of seminarians, testified that they had been found worthy, and Archbishop Naumann accepted them.
During the promise of the elect, the two men pledged to fulfill the duties of the diaconate. Then, they prostrated themselves on the floor before the altar during the Litany of the Saints. Next, they approached and knelt before the archbishop to receive the laying on of hands and the Book of the Gospels.
Deacon Kodigandla was vested with the dalmatic of the deacon by Father Pat Sullivan. Deacon Gaffney was vested with the dalmatic by Deacon Thomas Maddock.
Although short, the time spent in the transitional diaconate is important. In addition to committing to pursue a life of service, Deacon Gaffney and Deacon Kodigandla made commitments to lead a life of celibacy and obedience to the archbishop and his successors.
As transitional deacons, they will be able to baptize, officiate at weddings, preach, distribute the Eucharist, preside at funerals and lead Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest.
Both deacons will serve in the archdiocese this summer and resume their seminary studies and formation in the fall: Deacon Kodigandla at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis; Deacon Gaffney at St. John Vianney Theological School in Denver. The tentative date for their ordinations to the priesthood is May 28, 2022.