Archdiocese Local

Fourteen men ordained to the permanent diaconate

The 14 men that were ordained permanent deacons on June 22 at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood lay prostrate before the altar. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Marc and Julie Anderson

LEAWOOD — After Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann ordained 14 men to the permanent diaconate at St. Michael the Archangel Church here on June 22, there are now a total of 80 permanent deacons in the archdiocese.

And this new group is perhaps the most diverse ever.

In his homily, the archbishop noted that the group being ordained included machinists, engineers, a farmer, a veterinarian and a retired U.S. Army major, among others.

If there’s one attribute all 14 deacons share, though, it’s a willingness to serve God’s people, laying down their lives in service to others — a trait the archbishop stressed as important, especially within their marriages.

“You’ve been called to the diaconate as married men, and your diaconate ministry must never detract from your marriage, but rather must deepen your commitment to be a husband who cherishes your wife and who strives to lay down your life in love for your bride. 

“Your love, as it is for every sacramental marriage,” he continued, “is called to be an icon of the Lord’s love for his bride, the church.”

Deacon Tom Doyle processes in at the beginning of his ordination ceremony. Deacon Doyle is the father of Father Luke Doyle, assistant vocations director for the archdiocese. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The archbishop later instructed the men to “proclaim the Gospel with joy and enthusiasm,” something which doesn’t seem to be a problem for Deacon Curtis Keddy, associate director of formation for the archdiocesan office of the permanent diaconate.

From his earliest years, he recalls wanting to imitate his parents who served as full-time Protestant missionaries.

“I wanted to have their kind of faith. I wanted to give my whole life to ministry,” he said.

In 2004, while researching the foundations of Christian worship and reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, he realized he had to become Catholic — a fact that “absolutely devastated” him.

He longed to be a pastor, a husband and father, just like his dad.

Deacon Curtis Keddy, associate director of formation for the archdiocesan office of the permanent diaconate, kneels before Archbishop Naumann promising obedience to him and his successors. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

In 2005, he met Deacon Denis Zaun, a permanent deacon, and learned that he, too, could serve the Lord in full-time ordained ministry while also being a married man. And that intrigued him. He didn’t know such a role existed within the church.

Over time, he started discerning a call to the permanent diaconate.

At age 43, with five children under the age of 12, the deacon said he realizes that he is now “an envoy, a herald, a messenger” who lives “in between two realities.”

Deacons, he explained, lay down their lives as “a living bridge between the altar and the priest and the Mass and the people and what’s happening in the world. . . . A deacon goes out into the world and brings people to Christ and the sacraments. . . . That movement is, of itself, a sacramental sign of Christ who left the throne and emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, and went all the way down to find us so that he could bring us back.”

Bringing others, especially college students, to the sacraments is something Deacon Michael Murray said he’s looking forward to as part of his new ministry.

A physics professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Deacon Murray has been assigned to the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center there. He hopes he can help students appreciate, like he does, the Catholic Church’s intellectual tradition.

“Jesus said we must love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind. That’s one of our tasks — to love God with our mind, to use reason that way. So, I think that’s part of my task,” he said, adding he also believes he can help students develop a strong ethical foundation.

“We don’t stop being a Christian when we come into the lab. . . . We’re always Christian,” he said.

Deacon Michael Murray, a physics professor at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, sings along with his wife Maureen at his ordination ceremony. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Having an “always Christian” mindset is something Deacon Ramiro Rocha said he looks forward to imparting to others.

As someone who has not graduated from college, Deacon Rocha said he struggled with some of the formation. A blue-collar worker, he has a GED, or the equivalent of a high school diploma. And until the diaconate formation, he had never written a formal paper of any kind.

Moreover, English is his second  language. He was born in the Michoacán in western Mexico, moving permanently to the United States when he was 17.

“Allowing God to transform me into what he wants me to be,” Deacon Rocha said, “that’s the rewarding part. I’ve been called to this, and through God’s grace, I’ve been able to get this far.”

As an Hispanic immigrant, the new deacon said he’s looking forward to serving the church in the archdiocese’s ever-growing Hispanic community.

“Being able to help any Hispanic immigrants, to help them not to lose their faith but to continue to grow in it — but also to be a bridge between the Anglo community and the Hispanic community is what I’m looking forward to the most,” he said.

“We’re all God’s children, regardless of where we’re from,” he added.

Deacon Leon Suprenant, left, is vested by his son-in-law Deacon Nicholas Moragues. “We’re more than son-in-law and father-in-law. We’ve become quite close over the years — as friends and confidants,” Deacon Moragues said. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATHRYN WHITE

Taking care of God’s children from varying backgrounds has long been a part of Deacon Tom Doyle’s life. A cardiologist, he’s treated patients from all walks of life, spending most of his time with critically ill patients.

Married for nearly 40 years, he and his wife Jeanne have eight children, including Father Luke Doyle, the archdiocese’s assistant vocations director.

With the background of his profession and having once considered the priesthood for himself, a call to ordained ministry resurfaced as he witnessed his son’s journey to the priesthood and as he took some of his son’s advice to heart.

“It was beautiful . . . to just sit back and receive the grace of ordination, just let the Holy Spirit come. . . . Just being open and receiving those graces created so much peace. . . . To share that intimate moment with him was awesome. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Father Doyle agreed.

“The first movement of my heart would be gratitude, gratitude to God the Father for the gift of my life and the gift of my earthly father, the one who gave me life,” he said, “gratitude to the church for the opportunity to share in ordained ministry; gratitude to Jesus for calling us both to a life of service to the church.

“When we lay down our lives for a shared good, for the same good, there’s a real unity and intimacy that comes from that. So, I get to know my dad in a new way as we serve the church together.”

Deacon Ramiro Rocha, right, is embraced by his friend Armando Navejar outside of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Leawood following his ordination to the permanent diaconate. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Likewise, so can Deacon Leon Suprenant and his son-in-law, Deacon Nicholas Moragues.

As co-director of the archdiocesan office of the permanent diaconate, Deacon Suprenant has trained deacons for decades.

He and Deacon Moragues entered at the same time, but Deacon Suprenant stepped away for a time, while Deacon Moragues proceeded on to ordination in 2017.

After a five-day silent retreat in 2023, Deacon Suprenant handed the archbishop a letter, asking to be ordained. The rest is history.

Deacon Moragues said he cherished the moment when he vested his father-in-law.

“We’re more than son-in-law and father-in-law,” he said. “We’ve become quite close over the years  — as friends and confidants.”

Deacon Suprenant agreed.

“I looked at him — my son [in-law] and brother — and that summed it up,” he said.

“My son and my brother.”

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About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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