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'We Have Come To Rejoice And Give Thanks'

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, center, stands with newly ordained deacons Martin Estrada, left, and Juan Ramirez after their March 2 ordination at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Washington. The Message photo by Tim Lilley

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel opened the March 2 Diaconate Ordination Mass for Diocese of Evansville seminarians Martin Estrada and Juan Ramirez with the happy announcement that serves as this story’s headline: “We come to rejoice and give thanks.”

Family, friends and faithful from across the diocese filled Our Lady of Hope Parish’s St. Mary Church in Washington for the Mass. More than two dozen priests of the diocese and elsewhere concelebrated, and 10 deacons participated. Deacons Luke Hassler and Andrew Thomas served as Deacons of the Mass.

Deacon Ramirez’s niece, Stephanie Saavedra, served as lector for the first reading; and Deacon Estrada’s niece, Brisa Estrada Preciado, served as lector for the second reading.

In his homily, Bishop Siegel noted that newly ordained Deacons Estrada and Ramirez follow in the footsteps of the ancient tribe of Levi, who assisted in the worship of the Chosen People; of the first seven deacons chosen by the Apostles to assist them in the daily ministry; and of St. Stephen, St. Lawrence and other holy deacons who went before them, who gave their lives in service to God’s people, following the example of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

The bishop noted that their diaconal service involves ministries of Word, altar and charity:

The first duty of all the ordained is to proclaim God’s Word in preaching; preaching Jesus Christ and not themselves.

As ministers of the altar, they prepare the altar for the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and offer the body and blood of the Lord to God’s people. They should be especially concerned about bringing the Eucharist to the sick, suffering and homebound. As they baptize, preside at weddings and funerals, they are to recall that they are God’s instruments, earthen vessels, always pointing to the Lord Jesus.

As ministers of charity, they, like Jesus, are to have a special love and concern for the poor, the sick and suffering, recalling that when they care for the most vulnerable, they care for our Lord himself. 

“As He has done,” Bishop Siegel said, “so you must do.”

In closing, he entrusted the new deacons to Mary, the Mother of God and Queen of the Clergy, asking that through her intercession, Jesus may bring to completion the good work he has begun in them.

About Deacon Martin Estrada

Deacon Estrada, 35, is a native of San Julian, Jalisco, Mexico. He is the son of Jose Guadalupe Estrada and Maria del Socorro Vasquez, and he is the youngest of 10 children. His siblings include Alfonso (50), Marta (49), Josie (47), Olivia (46), Ignacio (44), Alberto (42), Juan (41), Guadalupe (39) and Alejandro (37).

About Deacon Ramirez

Deacon Ramirez, 37, also is a native of Mexico. He is the son of Luis Ramirez and Cristina Torres, and he has three sisters: Ana Saavedra (45), Cintia Ramirez (41) and Yuliana Ramirez (33).

Our Lady of Hope Parish hosted a reception for the new deacons immediately following the ordination Mass.