Story by S.L. Hansen
(SNR) — Ten seminarians will be ordained as transitional deacons for the Diocese of Lincoln May 23.
Born and raised in Auburn, Justin Fulton is the son of Bob and Lucy Fulton of St. Joseph Parish. He has been a member of North American Martyrs Parish since 1999.
Fulton noted his formation process to date has had its fair share of pain, struggles and weaknesses, “but joy and peace trump over all as God’s grace provides.”
He added, “God has created each and every one of us for a specific purpose in life. I am no different than any other person who has found their particular calling.”
“I’m excited to be the first person ever ordained from St. Peter Parish,” said Lincolnite Stephen Graeve, son of Bill and Jayne Graeve.
He relishes his seminary experience, especially at St. Gregory the Great in Seward.
“I was able to pull out of the world a bit and really enter into a deeper relationship with Christ, which has helped me throughout the entire seminary process,” he said.
When he feels nervous, he said, “I have to trust in God, who called me to this service. He will provide; He always does.”
Corey Harrison grew up in Eagle and attended St. Leo Parish in Palmyra. His parents are Greg and Janet Harrison.
“Even though this [formation] process can be intense,” Harrison said, “I have seen the positive results of having my formation advisor challenge me to be more involved in the seminary life and doing a better job of achieving my goals.”
He continued, “I am excited to be serving the diocese as a deacon, most especially the people of Wahoo, as preparation for serving the diocese as priest.”
Hailing from Blessed Sacrament Parish in Lincoln, Ryan Kaup is the son of Randall and Sherry Kaup.
He calls his formation, “a great blessing…. Growing closer to Jesus during my time at St. Gregory the Great Seminary and at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary through prayer, study, and pastoral ministry has made me the man I am today.”
Kaup said he is excited and humbled to know he will soon be ordained a deacon.
“I’m trusting completely in God’s call and His grace to do His Will in my life,” he said.
Originally from St. Peter Parish in Gary, S.D., Denton Morris is a registered Knight of Columbus at St. John the Baptist Parish in Minden. His parents are Barry and Robin Morris.
As he heads into the last year of what he called “a well-rounded and complete process of the formation of my person,” Morris is approaching his diaconate ordination with excitement and awe.
“There’s a balance between the awesome mystery and being ready to take the next step,” he said. “It feels fulfilling and at the same time very mysterious.”
The son of Bill and Mary Rowan of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Falls City, Cyrus Rowan said, “The seminary has been a long but joy-filled time in discerning the will of God.”
The process has also brought him the advantages of building relationships with other men who are also answering God’s call to priestly vocations.
Rowan is looking forward to being ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Lincoln.
“It is great to know that I can serve God’s people as a deacon and, God willing, a priest,” he said.
Ryan Salisbury grew up in Hastings, attending St. Cecilia Parish with his parents, Donna and the late Terry Salisbury.
He described priestly formation as “…giving you just what you need in the moment to grow closer to God and closer to the Heart of His Son.”
“It really is a humbling experience knowing that God has called each of us by name as He prepares to configure us more closely to his Son as servants in the church,” Salisbury said.
He added, “Words can’t describe truly how blessed I feel.”
Raised at St. Teresa Parish in Lincoln, Christopher Stoley is the son of Mark and Margy Stoley.
“I have never been busier than I have been since entering the seminary, but I have also never been happier,” he said. “It is the most fulfilling period of time I have ever lived.”
He finds it unbelievable that his first ordination is finally at hand.
“It is a daunting task that is ahead of me,” he admitted, “but I am excited to take it head on—with the help of God’s Grace.”
Two of the men to be ordained deacons are from Sri Lanka. Bishop James D. Conley has undertaken the oversight of their formation on behalf of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith of the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Shanaka Dilhara is from Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Ragama. His father is Balapuwaduge Michel Jayalath Mendis, and his mother is Atheige Marie Silva.
In seminary, Dilhara said, “I have experienced and am experiencing the presence of the Lord in my journey.”
He is particularly grateful to the Lord for the Blessed Mother, the mother of all priests and seminarians.
“She is the mother who helps me now and forever to grow closer to her Son,” he said.
He added, “I am extremely happy that I will be ordained in a few days.”
Gerald Ferreira is from the town of Negombo, where he attended St. Peter Parish. His parents are Darrol and Geraldine Ferreira.
As 10 “golden” years of seminary formation are completed and approaches, Ferreira said, “I know that I am unworthy to receive this gift of priesthood. I also know that however much I am unworthy; God is still calling me to be his priest.”
He added, “I will always remember that this priesthood/deaconate is not mine, but it is His; it is Jesus’ own gift that he shares with me.”
The soon-to-be deacons were unanimous in their gratitude for the prayers offered on their behalf by the people of the diocese. All are welcome to attend the deaconate ordination on Friday, May 23. The ordination Mass will begin at 7 p.m. at Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.