Preparing for June Ordinations: Q&A with the Candidates

0518vocations

KEVIN MUES

What are you most looking forward to about being ordained to the Transitional Diaconate?
The transitional diaconate is a period of about a year. A man is ordained to the diaconate before priesthood. Every priest still retains his diaconal ministry once he’s ordained, but the diaconal ministry is really a call to service. It’s a call to serve at the altar and assist. As deacon you’re supposed to serve. It’s a beautiful ministry. I’m really excited. To me the image of the servant is the most important image, at least in my experienced reality, for the priests. So the role of the deacon, stepping into that role of service at the altar, is going to be the first step.

What moments in seminary or summer assignments have helped prepare you to be a deacon and a priest?
For the last two years I’ve had an assignment outside of school here in New Orleans where I taught CCD. Being a part of that classroom setting, helping the ninth graders have that first encounter with Christ, being able to teach the faith to kids who may or may not want to learn, but being able to teach them the faith, has been really beautiful. It’s really put me in that mind set of someone who will one day teach and preach from the ambo, from the pulpit.

When I was at St. Ben’s [St. Joseph Seminary College], we went on a mission trip to Guatemala and then in our first year here at seminary we went to Nicaragua. I got to see both of those countries and the people there that had encountered the faith. It impressed on me more of the need to learn Spanish. So I’ve been working on that, too.

This past semester I did volunteer hours at the nursing home that’s connected to our campus. I visited the people. It was my first encounter with knocking on the door of a stranger and going in there and seeing where they’re at spiritually. It better prepared me for the summer when I worked in a hospital for two months and I got to be with families in very dire situations – be with them in times of death, in times of mourning and loss. To some extent, it was a beautiful thing to learn because I’d encountered death before, but I hadn’t walked with a family through that process and it was a real eye-opening experience of how God works even in tragedy.

Has there been a moment that has helped you discern that becoming a priest is God’s plan for you?
During Holy Week this year, when I served at Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish (Monroe), I got to be around the families. The altar society was helping get the altar ready and the other groups were the active side of ministry, preparing for the liturgy, and participating in the liturgy with the altar servers. The choir was singing, and I was amazed by the whole action of the Church during the Triduum. It really made me realize that there’s nothing else I feel like I’m called to do and that I feel like I’d be happy doing, other than serving at the altar of God as a priest one day.

DEACON DUANE TROMBETTA

Are there any particular moments of seminary that have helped you discern that priesthood was the right path for you?
The process of developing a healthy life of prayer and spirituality has been the primary factor in my priestly discernment. However, I call to mind one distinctly academic factor that played a part as well. During my first year of theology studies at Notre Dame Seminary, I received an assignment to draft a model letter to an incoming seminarian, giving an introduction to seminary life, and offering guidance on how to rightly align academic studies toward effective pastoral leadership. That assignment was challenging, but rewarding. It compelled me to consider those principles in my own seminary studies and priestly discernment. Since then, I have occasionally referred back to that assignment, and found myself reassured that my early advice was well worth following. That memorable assignment played a small but influential role in my discernment that priesthood was the right path for me.

What moments in your ministry or missionary work have stood out for you?
Of all the works of ministry I have experienced, some of my most memorable have occurred during my summer assignments. For example, during my 2013 summer at Holy Trinity Parish in Shreveport, I learned the diversity of works of parish priests, including sacramental ministry, hospital visits, home visits and prison ministry. During my 2014 summer at the Institute for Priestly Formation in Omaha, I learned the unique spirituality of diocesan priesthood. During my 2015 summer at Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish in Monroe, I experienced the dynamic workings of Christ in the young and old. During my 2016 chaplain internship at Florida Hospital in Orlando, I experienced the grace of God from the moment of birth to the moment of death. And during my 2017 diaconate internship at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans, I experienced the dynamics of a lively parish that features a grade school, a college prep next door, and a diverse array of ministries.

What does being ordained to the priesthood mean to you?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that through the Sacrament of Holy Orders and by the Anointing of the Holy Spirit, priests are signed with a special character and are configured to Christ in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ, the head. What an awesome responsibility! To me the priesthood is a gift, an opportunity and truly a vocation.

In what ways has your time as a transitional deacon prepared you for priesthood?
During my year as a transitional deacon, I experienced such a wide array of spiritual, pastoral and sacramental ministries. I believe the Sacrament of Holy Orders truly imparts the graces necessary to reach and help Christ’s faithful. Last summer, I particularly enjoyed serving as an ordained deacon for the Diocese of Shreveport’s “Mission Possible” outdoor adventure retreat at King’s Camp in Mer Rouge, Louisiana. Throughout the school year, I was honored to minister at many churches in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, including St. Rita Parish, Mater Dolorosa Parish, and the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France. Most recently, I enjoyed serving during the Masses and special services of Holy Week 2018 “back home” in the Diocese of Shreveport. I believe that each of these uniquely contributed to my preparation for receipt of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and ordination to the priesthood.

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