Another Voice: God’s blessings continue to shower the diocese’s vocation ministry 

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As the seminarians of the Diocese of Nashville wrap up the academic year and head to their summer assignments, I wanted to give the people of the diocese an update on the year from the Office of Vocations.

First and foremost, we were all overjoyed to celebrate the ordination of our two newest priests, Father Oscar Romero Avelino and Father Augustine Mang, on Saturday, May 27, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. It was certainly an exciting day for us as a diocese!

This past spring, we celebrated the ordination of transitional Deacon Seth Reed. He will be returning in the fall to St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Indiana, where he will complete his studies. God willing, he will be ordained a priest next spring.

On Thursday, Sept. 28, in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, seminarian David Lee will be ordained to the transitional diaconate, God willing. We keep him in our prayers as that date rapidly approaches. He is on track to be ordained a priest with Deacon Seth in the spring of 2024.

This past semester, we also celebrated the Acolyte Installation of Christian Hamrick, Tylor Starkey, Joe Hinderer, and Joseph Ngo. In addition, we celebrated the Lector Installation of David Herrera, Reed Robinson, and James Grossheim. Please continue to keep these men in your prayers.

Congratulations to Juan Hernandez, who graduated this year from St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana. He was admitted as a Candidate to Holy Orders on May 26 as he begins to prepare for the Discipleship Stage of formation (studying theology). He will be in formation this fall at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.

Our men in their propaedeutic year (a year of preparation before going off to seminary) completed their time in the House of Formation here in the Diocese. In the fall, William Rocha and Griffin Brewster will be moving into the Discipleship Stage of formation (working toward a degree in philosophy) at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. Levi Garrett will be moving into the Discipleship Stage at St. Joseph Seminary College. Please pray for these men as they take this step.

You will notice that we are beginning to send men to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis. In recent years, we have noticed an increase in men applying for the seminary who are past college age but who do not yet have a bachelor’s degree. Since then, we have been considering finding a seminary that offers both college and graduate theology degrees so that men in this situation can live with pre-theologians while still obtaining a bachelor’s degree. 

I visited Kenrick in the fall to look into this as an option. In addition to meeting that need, Kenrick also proved to be a very impressive seminary that is doing an excellent job at formation. I am looking forward to sending men to this seminary.

Justin Farr will be taking a pastoral year this coming year and has been assigned to St. Ann Church in Nashville. You may see Justin around the diocese much more in the coming year, so please make sure you make him feel welcome and supported. After his pastoral year, he will return to St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology to complete his studies.

The summer assignments for our men in formation are as follows:

• Deacon Seth Reed, St. Patrick Church in Nashville and the MSO.

• David Lee, Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville, the MSO, and language school.

• Christian Hamrick, St. Henry Church in Nashville.

• Tylor Starkey, participating in the Rome Experience program and at Christ the Redeemer Church in Centerville, Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, and St. Cecilia Church in Waynesboro.

• Joe Hinderer, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nashville.

• Joseph Ngo, the Rome Experience and St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin.

• Reed Robinson, will spend the summer at a parish in England.

• David Herrera, St. Edward Church in Nashville.

• James Grossheim, Rome Experience and the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

• Juan Hernandez, Sagrado Corazón Church in Nashville.

• Christian Cimorelli, St. Matthew Church in Franklin.

• Andy Ketch, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Cookeville.

• Francisco Castillo, St. Catherine Church in Columbia.

• Liam Farris, Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville.

• William Rocha, St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro.

• Griffin Brewster, Holy Rosary Church in Donelson.

• Levi Garrett, Totus Tuus

If there is a seminarian at a parish near you, I encourage you to reach out and connect with them. We are better when we spend time with one another. I hope that the seminarians have as much opportunity to meet as many of you as possible during their time in formation.

We are currently wrapping up applications for new seminarians for the fall. Four men have completed their application and have met with Bishop J. Mark Spalding. There are still six working on their applications, so it is shaping up to be a big year for new seminarians. As you see them, please introduce yourself and get to know the new men who will be starting next year.

We’ve also had a successful year in our Permanent Deacon Formation Program. We celebrated the ordination of 12 men to the diaconate along with Deacon Seth this past April. It has been a real joy to see them around the diocese as they begin their diaconal service. Thank you for all your support of them along the way.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Cathedral, we are planning to celebrate the diaconal ordination of Mario Guzman, God willing. He was in the class of men ordained in April, but was not able to be ordained at that time. Please pray for him as he makes his final preparations. I hope many of you are able to join us for that celebration in August.

On May 20, we celebrated the Lector Installation of the second cohort of men in the Permanent Deacon Formation Program. There are 10 men in that class. It is exciting to see them advance to their third year of formation. Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

We are wrapping up applications for the third cohort of the Permanent Deacon Formation Program, which will begin courses in August. There are about 15 men in the application process. Please keep them in your prayers as we begin to prepare for our new class of deacon aspirants.

As you can see, it’s been a blessed year for the Office of Vocations and the men in formation. It is a privilege to serve the faithful of the diocese, and there are many more blessings on the horizon. Thank you all for your prayers and support, and God bless you!

Father Luke Wilgenbusch is the Director of the Office of Vocations.

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