As Deacon Seth Reed processed out of Sagrado Corazón Church after his diaconate ordination Mass on Saturday, April 1, he felt good knowing he was one step closer to the ultimate goal of priesthood.
“After seven and a half years of formation, it’s very good to finally make that next step,” said Deacon Reed, who is scheduled to be ordained a priest in May 2024. “We always say in seminary, ‘We’re living in the now, but not yet.’ So, it’s the now, but not yet of that priesthood promise.”
Deacon Reed was ordained by Bishop J. Mark Spalding, as were 12 permanent deacons.
The 12 men ordained to the permanent diaconate included: Deacon Joseph Augustine, who will be assigned to St. Joseph Church in Madison; Deacon David Gilles, who will be assigned to Holy Family Church in Brentwood; Deacon Christopher Hoover, who will be assigned to Holy Rosary Church in Donelson; Deacon Francis Kham, who will be assigned to the Zomi Catholic Community; Deacon Collen Mayer, who will be assigned to St. Ann Church; Deacon Shawn Phillips, who will be assigned to St. Patrick Church in South Nashville; Deacon Carlos Salvatierra, who will be assigned to St. Ann; Deacon Christopher Simpson, who will be assigned to St. Frances Cabrini Church in Lebanon; Deacon Salvador Soto, who will be assigned to St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin; Deacon Craig Thomas, who will be assigned to University Catholic; Deacon Martin Torres, who will be assigned to Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville; and Deacon Mike Wiedemer, who will be assigned to St. Paul the Apostle Church in Tullahoma and St. Mark Church in Manchester.
All assignments are in effect with an expected start date of May 1.
“For me, this ordination signifies a new chapter and a new beginning,” said Father Luke Wilgenbusch, director of vocations. “It’s the start of an exciting new adventure for each of them and their ability to serve God’s people in our diocese.”
Deacon Reed will return to St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana, to complete his studies. While in Nashville, he is assigned to St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro. While at seminary, he will be assigned to St. Mary’s Church in Ireland, Indiana.
“It’s a continuous service as a deacon. Just because we’re in seminary as deacons, we don’t stop serving,” Deacon Reed said. “We either serve our seminarian community, we come back here and serve in the Nashville community, or we serve that community that we’re assigned to in Indiana.”
Wherever he is serving over the next year, Deacon Reed hopes to serve the people best “through preaching,” he said. He gave his first homily during the 5:30 p.m. Mass Saturday, April 1, at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church in Antioch, his home parish. “I knew that I was going to be doing this, so I’ve had something prepared for a month or two.”
“My service will also depend on the pastor who I’m assigned with over the summer. If they will allow me to go out and visit the homebound and sick, then I would love to do that,” he said. “But if they want me to focus more on liturgy and helping around the parish then that’s what I’ll do. However the pastor wants me to serve the people of God, I’ll be glad to do it.”
During his homily at the ordination Mass, Bishop Spalding told the deacon candidates that their “yes” to the call to serve the Church as a deacon is the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.
“Each of us, when we open ourselves up and allow the Spirit in, it’s amazing what happens. Our dreams become God’s dreams when we say, ‘Yes’ to his will,” Bishop Spalding said. “You said, ‘Yes’ to allowing the spirit to work with you, and there have been good times and challenging times, and the Holy Spirit has led you to this moment, and we as Church, as your family and friends, we are so thankful.
“First to God for sending the Spirit to you and inviting you, just like the Blessed Mother was invited by the angel Gabriel, and the Spirit came upon her, and look what’s happened ever since,” he said. “May the Spirit be at work in you, bringing forth Christ in the world constantly.”
As deacons, their responsibility is to remind the Church of the importance of charity work, the bishop said.
“You remind us that what we do around (the altar) sends us out into the world to change it for the better, especially for the weak and the wounded and the marginalized. You help us see them and hear them, and we as a Church need that constant reminder,” Bishop Spalding said. “The voice of the poor has to be heard by the Church. Always the deacons are the ones that tell the Church, ‘Go out to the poor.’ The deacon’s role is also to the poor, ‘Come to the Church.’ May that always be in your life and the constant reminder over and over to us as a people.
“And bring people ever nearer to Jesus, ever nearer to his mother in your ministry,” the bishop continued. “If there is anything that our city and our state needs … how good it is to know the Lord and to know the people who believe and follow him. And we need to reach out, especially to those who may be in dark and difficult situations.
“Weak, wounded, frustrated, angry, whatever state you find them in, bring them to Christ because when we isolate ourselves, we can become dark and lose our way.”
This message of Bishop Spalding in the homily served as a déjà vu for Deacon Mayer as he reflected on his first meeting with the bishop as he discerned entering the diaconate process.
“When I met with Bishop Spalding for the first time when Aimee (Deacon Mayer’s wife) and I were starting to explore the permanent diaconate four-and-a-half years ago, Bishop Spalding said the deacons are, in a particular way, the ones who remind the Church to be a Church of the poor, to go out to the margins and to welcome those most in need, to be Christ the servant to them, to lift them up,” Deacon Mayer said. “It was that image of being configured to Christ, the servant and going out to the margins to serve the poor that really impacted my desire to be a deacon. That image and metaphor really drew me in.
“Pope Francis calls the Church a field hospital. … A deacon of the Church both brings the joy of the Gospel, but also helps mend the community’s wounds, whether they are the wounds of poverty, loneliness, or sickness,” he said. “I see the deacons as being the frontlines of the field hospital welcoming people that may feel estranged and bringing the love of Christ, the servant to everybody, so all persons know that the Church is a place where all are welcome to come and be fed by word and sacrament.”
Deacon Mayer’s wife, Aimee Mayer, said she has nothing but joy seeing her husband reach this step.
“We have so much joy and excitement that he has reached this step, and we have nothing but gratitude to everyone that has helped make this possible for us. When we started the diaconate, we had no children,” Mayer said. “Now, we have three, so it took a lot of support to make it possible.
“We’ve been doing ministry together our whole marriage, so we’ve been looking forward to the next season of being able to do ministry together,” she said. “What’s next for me is just to support him in his role of deacon and to explore as a family how we’re called to serve the Church. We’re really excited.”
“It feels great to be here,” Deacon Mayer added. “It’s been a long journey, and so many of my family and friends have pitched in to support our family and to encourage me along the way. … It really took a village to get to this point, so I’m just full of gratitude.”
To view the entire ordination Mass, visit the Diocese of Nashville Facebook page or view the summary reel at www.facebook.com/reel/1398443314285541/?s=single_unit.
Gallery photos by Katie Peterson, Andy Telli, and Larry McCormack