The Catholic University of America

April 12, 2010

CUA’s Seminary Celebrates Ordination of 16 to Priesthood and Diaconate

  In a solemn moment during the ordination of deacons, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane lays his hands on Nicholas Reid. (Photo by Tom Eichwald)

As the Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI comes to a close this spring, 16 seminarians at Catholic University’s Theological College will experience important milestones in their journey to become priests.

By the end of June, seven deacons from CUA’s national seminary will be ordained priests and nine seminarians will become deacons.

“This has been a remarkable academic year, particularly given that this is a Year for Priests,” says Rev. Melvin Blanchette, S.S., Theological College’s rector.

Theological College, administered by the priests of the Society of St. Sulpice in affiliation with CUA, is one of the oldest Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States.

Last fall, seminarians participated in a "Ministerial Priesthood in the Third Millennium” symposium sponsored by the seminary and CUA’s School of Theology and Religious Studies. “This is a good example of what it takes to work together to educate a priest,” Father Blanchette says. “It takes smarts, it takes spirituality, it takes depth, and you need a community to do that.” 

Seven men, who have been doing graduate work at CUA and participating in priestly formation at Theological College, will be ordained priests in ceremonies in their home dioceses. They are:

  • Ismael Ayala, Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., on June 19
  • Corey Campeaux, Diocese of Lafayette, La., on June 5
  • Thomas Gillespie, Diocese of Pittsburgh, on June 26
  • Lutakome Nsubuga, Diocese of Spokane, Wash., on May 21
  • Harry Stokes, Archdiocese of Washington, on June 19
  • Jared Suire, Diocese of Lafayette, on June 5
  • Jon-Peter Thomas, Diocese of Camden, N.J., on May 22
Bishop William Skylstad gave the homily, reflecting on the Order of Deacon and the responsibilities that come with it. (Photo by Tom Eichwald)

“For me, being ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh means embarking on a journey of bringing the saving power of Jesus Christ, through the sacramental beauty of our Catholic Church, to a world that hungers for the truth found only in God,” Gillespie says.

The men have spent the last year honing their ministerial skills as transitional deacons. As deacons, they have performed many of the duties of a priest, including ministering, baptizing and doing administrative work. During ordination to the priesthood, a deacon is “given the holy power to forgive sins and to consecrate the body and blood of Christ,” Father Blanchette says. From that day forward, the men can say Mass and hear confession.

“It’s so transforming to see one of these gentlemen go into the cathedral as a deacon and then come out as a priest,” Father Blanchette says.

Once ordained by their bishops, the men will serve as diocesan priests.

“The custom in my diocese is to have evening prayer with the bishop and the parents of those to be ordained on the Thursday before ordination,” says Suire of Abbeville, La. At a dinner that night, he will learn his first assignment as a priest.

Gillespie of Pittsburgh will find out his assignment at the end of his ordination Mass along with others gathered at the Pittsburgh cathedral. “I hope to have the courage to allow God's grace to do the work of salvation wherever I'm sent,” he says.

Nine other Theological College seminarians are taking an important step in the path to priesthood when they are ordained to the order of deacons.

In an April 10 ceremony presided over by Most Rev.William Skylstad, bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, Wash., four seminarians were ordained as deacons at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Five others will be ordained in ceremonies in the weeks ahead in their home dioceses.

  Ordained as deacons were (from left) Jeffrey Lewis, Tyler Smedley, Jeffrey Core and Nicholas Reid. (Back row from left) Deacons Jared Suire, Ismael Ayala, Jon-Peter Thomas, Thomas Gillespie and Corey Campeaux will be ordained as priests this spring. (Photo by Tom Eichwald)

Those who have been or will be ordained deacons are:

  • Jared Brogan, Diocese of Paterson, N.J.
  • Jeffrey Core, Diocese of Spokane, Wash.
  • John Dickinson, Diocese of Portland, Maine
  • Michael Lee, Diocese of Paterson, N.J.
  • Jeffrey Lewis, Diocese of Spokane
  • Hugo Londono, Archdiocese of Milwaukee
  • Nicholas Reid, Diocese of Jefferson City, Mo.
  • Michael Roche, Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • Tyler Smedley, Diocese of Spokane

“For me, the ordination to the diaconate was a very grace-filled celebration, a beautiful validation of the five years I have thus far spent in seminary formation,” says Lewis of Spokane.

All have met the qualifications of a transitional deacon by demonstrating a commitment to daily prayer, a chaste and celibate life, and obedience to their bishop.

In preparation for their ordination as deacons, the nine participated in a profession of faith before the seminary community. “These men say that they are going to live out in their lives what they believe in their hearts,” Father Blanchette says. “After a profession of faith, they take an oath of fidelity and a declaration of freedom that they know what is expected of them.”


Catholic News Service interviewed seminarians for a news story.
2010 (c) Catholic News Service
Reposted with permission of CNS


He notes that the title deacon comes from the Greek word “diakonos,” which means servant. “A deacon preaches the word of God and serves,” Father Blanchette says. “They are to be men of service.”

After a summer working in ministry, the deacons will return to Theological College in August to complete a final academic year.

“I very much look forward to the call to service that is the ministry of the deacon,” says Lewis, who will coordinate a vocation program for teens in his diocese this summer. “And I look forward to the opportunities and the challenges that will undoubtedly come my way. I am nearing the end of a long and fulfilling road toward the priesthood that has been my dream for a very long time.”

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