ST. BENEDICT — On March 10, 20 students from Mount Angel Seminary moved a spiritual step closer in their journey to ordained priesthood.

Baker Bishop Liam Cary, Bishop of the Diocese of Baker, was the principal celebrant for what is known as the Ministries Mass, instituting 14 men in the ministry of lector and six in the ministry of acolyte. The seminarians represent 13 dioceses and two religious congregations.

Bishop Cary, reflecting on the story of Ezra in the Book of Nehemiah, reminded the seminarians that the Ministries Mass, like the scriptural account, focuses on the rediscovery of the word of God. For the lector, he said, “The word of God is entrusted to you personally – personally – in a significant way. The word of God pierces to the heart. We have it in our hands every day, and we can lose sight of the miracle of this word.”

“The Lord is already preparing my soul to receive the ineffable grace of priestly ordination,” said Archdiocese of Portland seminarian Benjamin Cowan, newly instituted as a lector. “I take this ministry as an incredible act of God’s love and mercy.”

For the acolyte, Bishop Cary said, “After the word is proclaimed, what is needed is silence to let the word sink in, so that what we say is then manifest in what we do. Then comes the acolyte into play. The hands of the acolyte prepare the altar for sacrifice. The Lord is asking you — will you lend me your hands? You acolytes will receive not a book, but the paten with the bread for the Eucharist — the bread of sacrifice.”

Archdiocese of Portland seminarian James Ladd said of his institution as acolyte, “[It] draws me closer to Christ, his church, his people, and allows for a deeper spiritual connection to the mysteries of our faith.”

Instituted into the ministry of lector were: Edward Burke, Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau; Benjamin Clayton Cowan, Archdiocese of Portland; Luke Foley Daniel, Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau; John Robert Dyson, Diocese of Boise; Benedictine Brother Michael Ferman of St. Martin Abbey; Brother Francis Lai of the Congregation of St. John the Baptist; William Michael Lane, Diocese of Yakima; Matthew Leung, Diocese of Orange; Edgar Yair Lozano Cuevas, Diocese of Sacramento; Thomas Kevin Malone, Diocese of Boise; Maximiliano Muñoz, Archdiocese of Seattle; Martín de Jesus Ortega Ascencio, Diocese of Fresno; Kyler John Voegele, Diocese of Reno; and Bryan Walman, Diocese of Baker. All are in their first year of theology and will be called upon to proclaim Scripture during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the coming months.

Instituted into the ministry of acolyte were: Marc Andrew Gandolfo, Diocese of San Diego; Marc Robert-James Jenkins, Archdiocese of Seattle; James Patrick Webb Ladd, Archdiocese of Portland; Anthony Scott Shumway, Diocese of Salt Lake City; Joseph Vu, Archdiocese of Portland; and Michael Williams, Diocese of Las Vegas. All are in their second year of theology and will be called upon to be ministers of the Eucharist and serve the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist in the coming months.