By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Call them the Lucky Thirteen, but it is the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph that benefits.
The largest single class of permanent deacons ever ordained at one time in the Diocese took their vows and received the Sacrament of Holy Orders June 7 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Rev. Mr. Richard Boyle, assigned to Church of the Good Shepherd, Smithville.
Rev. Mr. Daniel Brink, assigned to St. Gabriel Parish, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. Marcelino Canchola, assigned to St. Patrick Parish, St. Joseph.
Rev. Mr. James Dougherty, assigned to St. Louis Parish, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. Richard Gross, assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. Tyrone Gutierrez, assigned to St. Thomas More Parish, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. Keith Hoffman, assigned to Our Lady of the Presentation, Lee’s Summit.
Rev. Mr. John Nash, assigned to St. Patrick Parish, St. Joseph.
Rev. Mr. Dien Nguyen, assigned to Church of the Holy Martyrs, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. James Olshefski, assigned to St. Charles Borromeo Parish, Kansas City.
Rev. Mr. John Purk, assigned to serve as president of St. Michael the Archangel High School, Lee’s Summit.
Rev. Mr. Douglas Warrens, assigned to St. Therese Parish, Parkville.
Rev. Mr. John Wichmann, assigned to Church of the Good Shepherd, Smithville.
“These men have been chosen to be servants of God’s people,” Bishop Robert W. Finn said at their ordination Mass.
“They have sought to answer God’s call with the offering and oblation of their lives. The church confirms this call and I will invoke upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders so that the new deacons may have the benefit of supernatural assistance,” the bishop said.
The rank of permanent deacon dates to the earliest days of the church when the apostles ordained men to serve the widows, the poor and the sick.
It was revived shortly after the Second Vatican Council, and revived again in 1998 in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph by the late Bishop Raymond J. Boland, who three years later ordained the diocese’s first eight men to the permanent diaconate since 1984.
It is a unique call to service, Bishop Finn told the congregation that packed the Cathedral.
“The deacon serves in the name of Christ and in the place of Jesus Christ,” he said, recalling the words of the Gospel reading for the ordination liturgy: “Whoever serves me must follow me; Where I am, there also my servant will be.”
“This identification of the disciple with Christ, which many rightfully associate with the ministry of the ordained deacon, extends also to the great self-sacrifice by which Christ gave his life,” Bishop Finn said.
“Our Lord knew who he was and why he came,” he said. “And we also know that Jesus chose some to follow him more closely.
“This great privilege of being chosen and called by God that we celebrate at the time of ordination is not an acclamation of earthly greatness or status,” Bishop Finn said.
“Christ says to his apostles in the midst of their argument about who is greatest, ‘Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave,’” Bishop Finn said.
“As a minister of charity, the deacon distributes the goods of this world for the hope of God’s people,” he said.
“Even more than serving the material needs of the people, he is called to minister to the spiritual hunger and thirst of human souls,” the bishop said.
“As a minister of the Gospel, the hope of the risen Christ must be proclaimed so that the one who is fed and cared for is assured that they are also loved — loved by God, loved by the church, loved for all eternity with a dignity that can never be doubted and which must never be taken away,” Bishop Finn said.
“Our brothers have heard this call,” he said. “Jesus Christ has spoken to their hearts. He has chosen them as his instruments for spreading the Gospel. ‘To whomever I send you, you shall go,’ says the Lord. ‘Whatever I command you, you shall speak. Be not afraid, for I am with you,’ says the Lord.”