The deacons-to-be prostrate themselves before the altar as a sign of surrender to God. (Bob Kerns/Catholic Sentinel)
The deacons-to-be prostrate themselves before the altar as a sign of surrender to God. (Bob Kerns/Catholic Sentinel)
The promises of obedience and celibacy three transitional deacons made May 21 are as significant as the vows couples make in marriage.

That was a message from Archbishop Alexander Sample during the deacon ordinations of Anthony Hoangphan, Matthew Knight, and Efrain Razo.

Celibacy is a sign of Christ who gave himself as a bridegroom of the church. That is the example the ordained men are to follow, he said.

“Trust in the grace that comes from the sacrament you are about to receive,” the archbishop said before laying his hands on the men’s heads. “This life is not easy.”

St. Mary Cathedral was close to full and hundreds watched online.

“Remember your acceptance and love of the gospels you receive today,” Roberto Jaramillo said in the Facebook chat. “My prayers are with you and all the Archdiocese of Portland.”

Priests and deacons came and family served as lectors.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus said that those who wish to be great must be servants.

That wild self-giving love to which deacons are called mirrors how Jesus lived, said a joyful Archbishop Sample.

Deacons are ordained especially for charitable works. Hoangphan, Knight and Razo are called transitional deacons because they hope to be ordained priests next year.

Deacons can administer baptism and witness marriages and give homilies. But the emphasis is on charitable works, especially among the poor.

Archbishop Sample reminded the crowd that ordination is more than getting a new job.

“By laying on of hands and church’s prayer, these men are changed on the level of their soul into something new,” the archbishop said, explaining that they would be configured to Christ. “These men are meant to be signs of Christ to the world,” the archbishop said.

Worshippers sang a litany of saints and the new deacons were helped into their vestments by priests who have been mentors.

A native of Vietnam, Hoangphan came to Oregon in 1995. He graduated from Portland State University in 2001 and worked in information technology for more than 15 years. At his home parish, St. Anthony in Tigard, he offered IT help, was a tenor in the choir and a youth leader when he sensed God’s calling to priesthood.

Knight, born and raised in Roseburg, converted to Catholicism in high school, attracted by Catholic teaching and the Eucharist. He intended to study graphic design when a priest asked if he’d considered priesthood. He discerned a call to diocesan priesthood in western Oregon, impressed by the vision of Archbishop Sample.

Razo, born and raised in Los Angles, discerned a call to priesthood as a boy. He explored psychology but friends suggested he consider priesthood. After time as a religious brother discerned a call to diocesan priesthood. He worked at St. Alexander Parish in Cornelius where he was inspired by Father David Schiferl.