As he lay prostrate, the congregation kneeling around him and the sound of the “Litany of the Saints” being sung, Deacon Mario Guzman said he knew it would be a moment he wouldn’t forget.
“It made me feel humbled,” he said. “And it made me recognize that it is always God who is above me, that He’s watching me, and He’s permitting me to serve Him.”
Deacon Guzman will now serve God in a whole new way following his ordination to the permanent diaconate on Saturday, Aug. 5, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation. The mass was celebrated by Bishop J. Mark Spalding and concelebrated by multiple priests of the Diocese of Nashville.
Deacon Guzman’s ordination came following four years of formation with the Office of Vocation’s permanent diaconate program. While an illness kept him from being ordained with the rest of his deacon class last spring, he never lost faith that it was God’s call for Him.
“I feel as though God asks for something different from every single person in every single class,” he said. “This long process with my illness, He made me recognize that He’s still in charge, and now I feel by Him letting me (be ordained) by myself, I know I’m special to Him.”
“I’ve been serving the Church for a very long time,” added Deacon Guzman, who will be assigned to the Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill. “Now, I get to serve the Church and Jesus Christ in a different way as I serve and guide His people to Him.”
Several of Deacon Guzman’s family members witnessed the moment their son, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend was ordained, leaving many with tears of joy in their eyes.
“I feel really happy and very grateful,” said Iris Guzman, Deacon Guzman’s wife. “I feel a lot of things really, in my heart and in my soul.”
During his homily, Bishop Spalding thanked Deacon Guzman for his ‘yes,’ and emphasized how it becomes an example to everyone present.
“Every day is a day that we are called to say yes to God. He calls us to live a full life, and the fullest way we can live our life is living it in Jesus Christ, as Jesus Christ, like Jesus Christ,” Bishop Spalding said. “The Holy Spirit keeps drawing us into that life of the Son of God.
“Mario, as we celebrate your ‘’yes’ today, your response to God, it gives us all an example to say yes to God, and especially yes to God as being a servant in this world,” he continued. “We’re not called to be served, but to serve. Deacons are always around the altar and preaching the word, constantly reminding the whole Church that we are called as servants of the Lord.”
“Mario, your ‘I Dos’ today are going to show us once again how a man stands before us and commits to God’s will,” the bishop continued. “It will not be easy, but it will be fulfilling.”
Following the homily, it all became official as Deacon Guzman made his promises to the bishop, felt the hands of Bishop Spalding upon his head, and heard him recite the Prayer of Ordination.
“As once you chose the sons of Levi to minister in the former tabernacle, so now you establish three ranks of ministers in their sacred offices to serve your name. Thus, in the first days of your Church, your Son’s Apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, appointed seven men of good repute to help them in the daily ministry, so that they might devote themselves more fully to prayer and the preaching of the word,” part of the prayer reads. “By prayer and the laying on of hands, they entrusted to these chosen men the ministry of serving at table. Look favorably also on these your servants, we pray, O Lord, whom we humbly dedicated to serve at your holy altars in the office of the Diaconate.”
Then, upon being vested in his stole and dalmatic, Bishop Spalding handed him the Book of the Gospels.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become,” Bishop Spalding said. “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Finally, with a fraternal kiss from Bishop Spalding and his fellow deacons, Deacon Guzman took his place upon the altar, officially signaling his conforming to the role as Christ the Servant.