Altar Call: two seminarians advance toward priesthood with ministry of lector, acolyte

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

October 22, 2020

Austin Evans, Bishop Michael Mulvey, Eric Flores
Austin Evans, Corpus Christi Bishop Michael Mulvey, and Eric Flores (courtesy photo)

SAN ANTONIO — It was a remark Austin Evans doesn’t remember but one his mother never forgot. After receiving his first Holy Communion, the second grader called the experience “the best day of my life” and announced he wanted to be a priest.

Eric Flores was also in the second grade when family gatherings sparked an interest in the priesthood. His uncle, Father Florencio Rodriguez, is a Franciscan Third Order Regular priest serving in the Diocese of Austin.

“Family get-togethers would always be in his church and then the parish hall for the celebration,” Flores remembered. “I thought he had the coolest job in the world and that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up — a priest.”

Both seminarians from the Diocese of Fort Worth moved one step closer to ordination October 10 when Corpus Christi Bishop Michael Mulvey conferred the Ministry of Lector on Evans and the Ministry of Acolyte on Flores, during a Mass celebrated in Our Lady’s Chapel at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio. Bishop Mulvey represented his fellow bishops from the dioceses of El Paso, Fort Worth, Laredo, San Bernardino, and San Antonio in officiating the rite for seminarians from across the state.

“The ministries of lector and acolyte are steps that prepare men for ordained ministry,” explained Father Jonathan Wallis, Vicar General of the Diocese of Fort Worth and director of seminarian formation. “These are stages along the way where the Church invests responsibility in these men in an official way.”

In his homily, Bishop Mulvey called the young men studying for the priesthood at Assumption Seminary courageous.

“It’s a courageous step for you in this day, age and time to accept that vocation — to come forward and say, ‘I will serve,’” he said. “Focus your mind, heart, soul, and strength on the Word of God and the Eucharist.”

Bishop Michael Mulvey with Austin Evans
Corpus Christi Bishop Michael Mulvey and Austin Evans (courtesy photo)

Instituted as a lector, Evans can proclaim the readings from Sacred Scripture, except for the Gospel. He may also announce the intentions during the Prayer of the Faithful and, in the absence of a cantor, recite the Psalm between the readings. A lector can also teach, as a catechist, in the name of the Church.

The 23-year-old from Biloxi, Mississippi, said becoming a lector is an honor.

“It’s another big step toward the priesthood so I’m thankful for that,” said Evans, a first-year theology student. “Now I can go to the ambo and truly speak the Word of God to the congregation.”

After moving to Fort Worth with his mother, Dawn Jordan, Evans entered the seminary in fall 2017. The decision to consider a religious vocation followed two years of indecisive study at Mississippi State University. During Christmas break, his mother suggested attending a St. Andrew Dinner — a discernment event hosted by the diocese for high school and college-age men.

Evans recalled the bishop talking about the two paths young men can pursue — one toward married life, the other priesthood.

“He said the only way to realize a vocation is to go down one of the paths,” the seminarian recounted. “And if it’s right, God will let you know. I had gone to college, didn’t feel fulfilled, and wanted to do more. After that talk, I knew I needed to go into the seminary.”

Bishop Michael Mulvey and Eric Flores
Corpus Christi Bishop Michael Mulvey with Eric Flores (courtesy photo)

Flores was also a college student attending Texas A&M in Kingsville when thoughts of the priesthood grew stronger.

“In college, I really discerned God was leading me to become a priest for His Church,” said the 2014 Nolan Catholic graduate. “I fell in love with the liturgy and aspects of being a parish priest. I felt a strong call to this vocation and it’s still strong.”

As an acolyte, the second-year theology student will assist the priest and deacon by preparing the altar for Mass and cleaning and purifying the sacred vessels. If necessary, an acolyte distributes the Eucharist as an extraordinary minister and is entrusted with exposing the Blessed Sacrament during public Adoration but does not give the Benediction.

“Becoming an acolyte enriches my vocation by allowing me to participate more in the Mass,” Flores said. “As an acolyte, I can be of more service to the Church. It’s a great honor but also humbling.”

Both seminarians are grateful for the support of the bishop and parishioners in the diocese.

“I’m thankful for everyone who is praying for all the seminarians and I ask people to continue to pray for us and for our priests,” Evans said.

Austin Evans, Bishop Michael Mulvey, and Eric Flores

SAN ANTONIO — It was a remark Austin Evans doesn’t remember but one his mother never forgot.

Published (until 10/22/2031)
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