Three years ago in May I joined a group of fifty people, mostly from St. Peter Chanel, for a pilgrimage to Mexico. In the group I met Quan. He was on summer break after his first year in seminary, and was still discerning whether it was God's will for him to be a priest. Our group visited the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a bunch of other wonderful Catholic sites, and as I had only been received into the Church the month before it was all new and thrilling to me. One night in the beautiful town of Puebla I found myself awake while my two roommates were fast asleep, so I knelt and prayed a Rosary for Quan's vocation and for my own (I had some inkling that I might be a nun.)
I thought of that today while I watched Quan and five others be ordained deacons for the Diocese of Orange. Lord willing they'll all be ordained priests next year. Great is God's faithfulness; He knows the path ahead though we do not, and it's astounding to look back and see all that He's done.
It was a fine ordination Mass. Quintilingual: I think I heard Vietnamese, Spanish, English, Korean and Latin spoken and sung. The entrance song was "Jesus Christ, You Are My Life", which I've loved ever since I heard it in this video to which Jen once linked. A Vietnamese song got lots of congregational participation, which wasn't surprising as four of the six ordinands were Vietnamese and it looked like lots of family had turned out. The Holy Family Cathedral of Orange was packed to the gills (but not to the rafters. Those rafters were really high.)
One remarkable feature of the entrance and exit processions was the thurifer swinging his censer in a full 360° circle every few steps. He was precise about it so it didn't look like he was just messing around, but still, aren't there glowing hot coals in that thing? Anyone ever seen that trick before?
The congregation burst into applause as the new deacons processed out, and no wonder, for they're enriching us all by giving their lives to serve God's Church. I thought it would have been great if the applause had lasted for the long line of priests that followed behind them, but that would have worn out everyone's hands. It reminded me of a concert the Alhambra Carmelites gave. Mother Regina Marie introduced all the sisters in the various stages of formation: candidates in black suits, postulants in blue, novices with white veils, black-veiled sisters under temporary vows, "and then there are the fully professed sisters. They're not as exciting as the others, but they are the tried and the true."
After Mass I joined up with Diep and Jeanne, two friends who were on that Mexico pilgrimage, and we chowed down in the fellowship hall. I declared I liked what many of the Vietnamese women were wearing: a long dress, often in lovely sparkly colors, with a skirt slit up both sides and loose pants underneath. "If it were in fashion I'd dress like that every day," said I. Diep has worn such a dress, and she commented that the back part of the skirt can end up in the toilet bowl.
On a somewhat more elevated note, we worked our way over to Quan and told him how good it was to see him ordained. He can't give priestly blessings (yet), but we huddled around while he prayed a really nice prayer for us. We learned he'll be stationed at a parish this summer and then it's back to the Angelicum in Rome for more seminary study. But I'm not jealous.
Now we're all supposed to pray for the new deacons that if God wills we'll see them ordained priests next year. Ha! You didn't know that reading this post to the end would trap you in an obligation, did you? Well, too late now!
Update: Pictures of the event here! I'm in one of them (along with all the rest of the congregation... good luck finding me.)