Young men at ordination: 'I can't imagine a better way to live'
By ELISE HARRIS
Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2014 / 05:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - Transitional deacons ordained this week in St. Peter’s Basilica shared their experience of overwhelming joy in serving God, which stems from a life of sacrifice that’s worth giving everything to live.
“I went to George Washington University in D.C. and met great priests, friends and mentors, and they taught me that priesthood is something joyful, and wonderful and worth giving your life for,” Deacon Conrad Murphy of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. told CNA after his ordination on Oct. 2.
“Of course, it’s full of ups and downs, you have your good days, your bad days, but there’s a joy that’s there throughout it all.”
Dcn. Murphy was one of 43 young men from the Pontifical North American College in Rome to be ordained to the transitional deaconate by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. yesterday in St. Peter’s Basilica.
The new deacons will continue their studies this year, assisting in parishes and in administering the sacraments until their ordination to the priesthood next spring.
Explaining how he discovered his vocation to the priesthood, Dcn. Murphy said that he had originally thought about becoming a priest when he was little, but the idea left him when he was in high school.
After having a positive experience in college with his faith, he entered Mount St. Mary’s seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland and after two years was sent to the North American College in Rome.
“I can't believe I’m ordained a deacon now. It happened so fast,” he said. “Even on the toughest days, the worst days (when) you’re struggling through classes, the car splashes mud on you, you still have that joy in knowing that you’re where God wants you to be.”
“Here the joy of studying, the joy of prayer, growing in your life of prayer is unbelievable. It’s such a total gift, I can’t believe they let me do this. It’s absolutely incredible.”
The new deacon also voiced his excitement for his eventual ordination to the priesthood, saying that what he is most looking forward to is being with people their whole lives.
“Being with them when they’re joyful from baptism on to as they grow, teaching them the faith, and being with them to take them to the Lord when they die; to give them the Blessed Sacrament as they’re dying and going to the Lord.”
“The whole life of a priest is just so appealing. To be able to give yourself for others, I can't imagine a better way to live…words can’t express it, I can’t get the smile off my face!”
Also ordained a deacon was Fernando Camou from the Diocese of Phoenix, where he was born and raised. Dcn. Kamu expressed his thankfulness for his vocation upon his ordination.
“The word is gratitude. I just feel so very blessed. By the grace of God my whole life just seems to be coming together in this really profound way (and there is) just tremendous joy.”
Walking out of the sacristy with his classmates as the Mass began “felt so unreal,” he said, “like I was walking into what my whole life was pointing toward, and it was a dream.”
Camou said his vocation was fostered at home, through the example and teaching of his parents and older sisters, but it was in high school “when the vocation started to grow as I began to encounter the Lord in a personal level.”
After having a strong experience with Jesus in the Eucharist, Dcn. Camou explained that that’s when he told the Lord: “Whatever you want.“
"And within months the priesthood was just bubbling up and I couldn’t say no.”
So far in his six years in seminary the deacon said he has experienced “the greatest struggles of my life, but also the greatest joys of my life.”
“The whole time the Lord was pruning and molding my heart into the priest that he wants me to be,” he continued, noting how classes in philosophy were particularly hard to get used to after playing the bass and electric guitars in a rock band and studying engineering.
“It really challenged me to make the effort to realize that if following the Lord’s call means working hard, the gifts of that have just been abundant,” he said. “So the little sacrifices are nothing compared to the joy of ordination.”
From the Diocese of Rockville Center, Long Island, New York hails newly ordained Deacon James Hansen, who discovered that despite having solid friends and getting good grades in school, something was missing.
After being encouraged by his parish priest numerous times to consider the priesthood without much interest, Dcn. Hansen said that when he realized something was lacking in his life, he had a feeling that “the Lord was possibly calling me to something more.”
“So I decided to change and leave some of that, try something new, entered the seminary, and it’s been an amazing journey.”
“One of the greatest things about being here in Rome studying at the North American Collage is being able to visit all the churches,” the deacon observed.
“You can’t walk down a single block without bumping into two or three, and those churches usually have Saints,” he continued, noting how he has developed a particularly strong devotion to St. Catherine of Siena and St. Philip Neri, whose bodies reside in separate parishes in Rome.
When asked what he would say to other young men considering the priesthood, Dcn. Hansen said he would tell them to keep praying.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about it with people. Ask your pastors or parish priests about what it’s like being a priest, and stay open to the will of God because it’s there that we’re going to find our true happiness and peace.”