Transitional Deacon
Ordained in
the Year of Mercy

By Shelley Wolf, FCC Contributor

Norwich — In a beautiful celebration, the Rite of Ordination to the Deaconate, Juan Aguirre was ordained as a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Norwich at the Cathedral of St. Patrick on December 19, bringing him one step closer to the priesthood.

If he continues on the path, Aguirre will be ordained to the priesthood in June, along with three other transitional deacons.

The Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop of Norwich, celebrated the special Mass in a mix of Spanish and English to acknowledge Aguirre’s Colombian heritage and to welcome his Spanish-speaking family and friends who gathered at the Cathedral.

Angel Correa, Hispanic music director at St. Mary Star of the Sea in New London, joined Douglas Green, director of music at St. Patrick Cathedral, along with cantor, choir, trumpet and violin, in a music program that also deftly blended Spanish and English prayers and hymns.

“It’s a great day for Juan, it’s a great day for his family, and it’s a great day for the Diocese,” Bishop Cote said. He then thanked all those who assisted Aguirre along his spiritual path, including those in his native country of Colombia; at Clark University and at the Holy Name of Jesus House of Study, both in Worcester, Massachusetts; at St. Mary Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland; and especially Father Gregory Galvin, diocesan director of priestly vocations.

“It’s no coincidence that Pope Francis wants us to allow God to surprise us,” the Bishop said. “We never know where God will lead us if we remain open to his grace.”

As a transitional deacon, Juan Aguirre will be bringing God’s word to the people by presiding over public prayer, baptizing, blessing marriages, assisting in the celebration of the Eucharist, and leading funeral rites, Bishop Cote explained.

“He is a true disciple of Jesus who has come to serve, not to be served,” the Bishop said. “This summer, God willing, he will become a priest in this Year of Mercy.”

The Bishop instructed Juan Aguirre to make God’s mercy apparent in all his dealings with parishioners, and to look for God’s presence in every circumstance of life. “When it comes to your sacred duties, remember to carry them out with mercy,” the Bishop advised.

“We can only give what we ourselves possess. Carefully attend to your spiritual life,” Bishop Cote said. “Be still and quiet so you can listen to his voice. You will never be alone.”

During the Mass, the ordinand, Juan Aguirre, laid prostrate on the floor while the Bishop, priests, deacons, and the entire congregation prayed the Litany of Supplication, chanting the names of the saints, and asking God to pour out the grace of his blessing.

Following the Litany, Juan Aguirre knelt before Bishop Cote for the Laying on of Hands, in which Bishop Cote put both hands on the ordinand’s head and silently summoned the Holy Spirit.

After the Prayer of Ordination, the newly ordained deacon was invested with the stole and dalmatic. Deacon Aguirre was then embraced by Bishop Cote and by each of the priests, after which he assisted the Bishop in celebrating the Eucharist.

The choir, accompanied by trumpet and violin, offered a moving version of “Pescador de Hombres” as the Communion meditation.

Following the Mass, Deacon Aguirre’s mother, Marleny Palacio of Boston, said through an interpreter, “I’m very happy and very grateful to God for this gift. I cried a lot.”

Deacon Aguirre was overjoyed and reflected on the meaning of this special day. “Well, I was waiting for this day many years ago. Every day God was calling me to be a priest,” he said. “I am so happy to serve God.”

Deacon Aguirre has completed his seminary studies and is scheduled for ordination to the priesthood in June. Until that time, according to Father Galvin, Aguirre has been assigned by Bishop Cote to serve as a transitional deacon at St. Joseph Church in Willimantic and at Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Church in Windham.