Nine men admitted as candidates for 2025 ordination to permanent diaconate
“Christ was the first servant and I want to follow Christ.”
That’s the reason Jose Rafael Mateo gave for wanting to become a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Fort Worth.
The St. Michael parishioner is eager to serve those in need, those on the peripheries of society, and “those who need to hear the voice of the Lord.”
Mateo is one step closer to achieving that goal after Bishop Michael Olson officially accepted him and eight other men into the diaconate program during the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders. Two men were also instituted as lectors during the Mass celebrated by the bishop on September 24 in St. Patrick Cathedral.
The new candidates include Kendall Robert Coffey, Scott Alan Elder, Weldon Alan Franklin, Wilfried Axel Lampka, Pedro Juan Lara Loredo, Jose Rafael Mateo, Thang Cao Nguyen, Hoang Huy Trinh, and Michael Hugh Waldon.
With the words, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people,” Bishop Olson instituted Scott Alan Elder and Alan Hung Vu as lectors. Ministering as lectors and acolytes is required before ordination to the permanent diaconate.
The first of three ranks in ordained ministry, permanent deacons are men not preparing for the priesthood, unlike transitional deacons who are seminarians. A deacon’s responsibilities include assisting at liturgies, preaching, and performing charitable acts.
As aspirants, the men spent the past two years discerning a call to the diaconate while taking introductory courses in theology, pastoral ministry, and liturgy. A positive recommendation from the formation faculty was also required prior to admission to candidacy.
For the next three years, the candidates will continue to discern while studying homiletics, Canon law, biblical studies, and completing a two-year hospital ministry internship.
Juan Rendon, director of diaconal formation, described the deacon class of 2025 as enthusiastic and joyful.
“They are diverse, come from different backgrounds and all have had powerful conversion experiences at different retreats,” he said.
Well-educated, the class includes a surgeon, counselor, engineers, and a technology specialist.
“They are a selfless group who are truly discerning the call to the diaconate,” the director added.
Using St. Paul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus as an example, Bishop Olson reminded Mass participants that conversion is not a one-time event but a lifelong experience.
“It’s important we celebrate and ask the Lord for His grace in the admission of candidacy of these men and the two men instituted into the ministry of lector,” he said in his homily. “What you are preparing for is not just a private experience or ministry, but rather that you can be conformed at your ordination to Christ the servant. Christ, who came to serve, and not be served.”
Father Richard Eldredge, TOR, who served as pastor of Good Shepherd Parish until his death in 2019, encouraged Pedro Loredo to apply for the diaconate program. The hand surgeon and father of five children admits balancing family, a medical practice, and church work is challenging. He credits his wife, Mariam, for making his participation in the deacon formation program possible.
“We have three more years ahead of us,” Loredo continued. “I look forward to learning more about the Church and its traditions.
Several members of Good Shepherd attended the morning liturgy to support Loredo and the other candidates.
“Permanent deacons bring a great service to the Church,” said Andy Kiefer, a Good Shepherd parishioner. “It’s remarkable the sacrifice they make — time away from family — to enter this program to help and serve others.”