On May 21, four men will be ordained transitional deacons by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien. They are Jaime Garcia Vasquez, Isaac Kioko Makovo, Steven Paul Roth and Stephen Duane Cotter. By the grace of God, these same men will be ordained priests next year. Keep them all in your prayers, and keep praying for vocations.
Of these four men, I only know Jaime personally. He has made his non-seminary home at the rectory of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. It seems like only yesterday when he was struggling to learn the English language. Today he has mastered both the language and theology.
Jaime credits the influence of so many holy priests here at the cathedral for his inspiration and perseverance. Among them are Monsignors Robert Armstrong and Robert Jaskot, and Fathers Gerry Francik and Lou Bianco and, more recently, Monsignors Bruce Jarboe and Rick Woy, and Fathers Pete Literal and John Hurley. Jaime even offers great credit to our housekeeper, Lorelei Jones.
While I spend most of my time “on the road,” Jaime has inspired me in the little time I have been with him. He is, in my humble opinion, the “wave of the future.” In the recent past, the Catholic Church reflected mostly immigrants to our country from Europe – Italians, Germans, Irish, Poles and various other ethnic groups from Europe.
The future will see mostly people coming from the South – Mexico and Central and South America. What were formerly “mission” countries will return and be missionaries to us! The Catholic faith is alive and well in the poorer countries of the world. The more affluent and “educated” we become, the more people seem to wander from the church.
It’s impressive to watch a man from another country and culture adapt to our country and culture. It takes great faith and the grace of God to do that. Jaime has both.
The world that I was ordained into 40 years ago is vastly different from the world we experience today. I can only imagine the world that Jaime will experience 40 years from today.
Someone has said that: “Children are messengers that we send to a time and place we will never know.” We try to be our best for our young people so that the messages they take into the future will be messages of hope and faith and love.
The same surely can be said of priests. Brave young men risk their lives for God. What impressed Jaime about the priests I mentioned above was their prayerfulness. Only prayer can sustain a faith journey. And, in this month of May, we need to remember that prayer to Mary is an important part of our Catholic tradition. Mary is not only queen of vocations, but she is also queen of our hearts.
When I pray the rosary, I am usually driving, so instead of meditation on the mysteries, I put an intention on each decade of the rosary. The first decade I always offer in gratitude. I thank God for life and all that is a part of life. The second decade I offer for those who have asked for my prayers, for those whom I have promised prayers for, and for all in need of prayer. The third decade I always offer that God will grant the fullness of life to all the living and eternal life to all the dead. The fourth decade I offer for the poor, the sick and the suffering, and all who help them. The fifth decade I offer for my brother priests, sisters, religious and laity – for all who help to build God’s kingdom on earth.
Between the decades I say the traditional prayer: “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the powers of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.” But there’s also another prayer that I pray right after that. The personal prayer that I add goes: “Lord Jesus, may all people be free from fear. May all people be free from danger. May all people be free from suffering. May all people be filled with loving kindness. May all people be saved, transformed, and come to the fullness of your life and love. Amen.”
I don’t know what future Jaime and his brother deacons and priests will experience. But I can send love and prayer into that future. And I hope in some future time that they will pray for all those who ministered before them, for all those who faced other uncertain futures with a sure faith in a very certain God.