Hope to be ordained to the priesthood next year
By Jay Nies
Bishop John R. Gaydos recalled a reporter interviewing Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata when her Missionaries of Charity opened a convent in St. Louis in the 1970s.
“What are you coming to the ‘First World’ for?” the reporter asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be working with the poorest of the poor?”
“There’s a different kind of poverty sometimes,” Mother Teresa replied. “It can be worse than material poverty. It is a spiritual poverty.”
“So many people,” Bishop Gaydos observed, “are hungry for the meaning of self-sacrifice and love.”
He linked Mother Teresa’s sacrifice to the missionary calling of two men — Rev. Mr. César Anicama from Peru and Rev. Mr. Simeon Etonu from Nigeria — whom he recently ordained as transitional deacons for the Jefferson City diocese.
He said Mother Teresa was “a truly selfless person. She did beautiful things for God.”
Rev. Mr. Anicama’s diaconal ordination was celebrated in English and his native Spanish on May 17 in St. Clement Church in St. Clement, where he had spent some time and befriended several families shortly after arriving in the United States.
Rev. Mr. Etonu’s ordination was celebrated on May 31 in Immaculate Conception Church in Jefferson City, where he resided before continuing his seminary formation in Missouri.
Both deacons hope to be ordained priests of the Jefferson City diocese next spring.
Rev. Mr. Anicama and Rev. Mr. Etonu both began their priestly formation in their home countries before deciding to serve as missionary priests in the United States.
Rev. Mr. Anicama came to Missouri after hearing about missionaries from the Jefferson City diocese and in thanksgiving for help given to his home diocese of Ica, Peru, after a deadly earthquake and tsunami in 2007.
Rev. Mr. Etonu was studying in Germany when he realized the need for priests is greater in Europe and the United States than in his home diocese of Idah, Nigeria.
At both of their diaconal ordinations, Bishop Gaydos spoke of self-sacrificing service and love in imitation of Jesus.
That, the bishop said, is at the heart of being a deacon — an office both men will continue to hold forever, even after they are ordained priests.
“Jesus is begging us to take the focus off of ourselves, to try at least sometimes to achieve the greatness of putting others first,” Bishop Gaydos stated in his homily at Rev. Mr. Anicama’s Ordination Mass in St. Clement . “If we succeed, then we shall discover that in our own small way, we have done some beautiful things for God.”
“There’s always cost involved in loving service,” the bishop noted in his homily at Rev. Mr. Etonu’s Ordination Mass in Jefferson City. “Jesus spoke simply in terms of service and its costs.
“It’s to be the hallmark of Christ’s disciples,” he continued, “that we will love without hope of profit or reward, that we will respect the intrinsic dignity and worth of others, no matter their position or power or wealth, to realize that God loves all unconditionally.”
Jesus was emphatic that true discipleship means sacrifice and service, even unto suffering and death, but He also promised “that this road leads to the glory of the resurrection.”
Bishop Gaydos said Jesus showed His followers where true greatness can be found “not in striving to be the first but in being ready to be the last, not by being master but by being the servant, not by following selfish instincts but by being truly unselfish, putting ourselves at the service of the little people, the poor, the marginalized, the forgotten ones.
“That’s the way we imitate the Lord, Who didn’t come to be served but to serve,” the bishop stated.
Ministers of the Gospel
The bishop emphasized at both Masses that deacons are “consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes down to us from the apostles and as a result, they are bound more closely to the service of the altar, and it is in that way that they, through their performance of works of charity in the name of the bishop or the pastor, show the intimate connection between the sacramental life and our life in the world.”
He noted that the deacons will help their bishop and his priests “in the ministry of the word, the ministry of the altar, and of charity. They are to show themselves to be servants to all.”
They will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the altar for the sacrifice, and help distribute the Body and Blood of Christ to the faithful. They will teach and encourage believers and non-believers in Church doctrine and will preside at public prayer.
“With the help of God, they are to go about all these duties in such a way that all will see them as disciples of the One who came not to be served, but to serve,” the bishop said.
He urged both men to lead by their example, becoming blameless in the sight of God, serving joyfully as if they were serving Jesus Himself.
“From now on, you are not only hearers of the Gospel, you are also His ministers,” the bishop said.
Rev. Mr. Etonu has been assigned to assist the pastor of Holy Family parish in Hannibal this summer.
Rev. Mr. Anicama has been assigned to assist the pastoral administrator of St. Mary parish in Milan and St. Mary parish in Unionville.
Both plan to begin their last year of formation at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis this fall.