ROCK HILL—Oratorian Brother Agustin Guzman started a new phase of his life when he was ordained to the transitional diaconate May 26 by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone in the Church of Our Lady and St. Philip Neri at The Oratory.
Deacon Guzman, a native of Lancaster, Calif., came to The Oratory in 2004 and has been preparing for the priesthood at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Texas. As a transitional deacon, he will be able to preach, proclaim the Gospel, help the priest during liturgies and witness marriages outside Mass.
The ordination was on the feast day of St. Philip Neri, the 16th-century Italian saint who founded The Oratory — the name given to a place where he prayed and offered spiritual guidance.
More than 150 people packed the pews of the small church. Priests and brothers from The Oratory attended as did Father Brendan Cahill, rector of St. Mary’s, and other visitors from the seminary.
Bishop Guglielmone spoke about the responsibilities and challenges of life as a deacon.
“He will help the bishop and the priests, he will show himself to be of service to all, he will proclaim the Gospel and distribute the body and blood to the faithful,” the bishop said. “Consecrated by the laying on of hands, he will perform works of charity. With the help of God, he is to go and do all these duties in such a way that all will know he is a disciple.”
Bishop Guglielmone urged Deacon Guzman to remember that ministering in the name of Christ is not a burden, but a great joy.
“Pray well, work well, promote unity among God’s people, and constantly reach out to those in need of God’s healing touch,” he said.
At the reception, Deacon Guzman said he decided to join the order after reading the book “Philip Neri: The Fire of Joy” by Paul Turks.
“I was inspired because Philip Neri was such a different saint,” Deacon Guzman said. “He attracted people like a magnet. He showed the idea that God was calling everyone to personal holiness, and not expecting them to fit into a template. He showed that each person goes through their own spiritual journey as God calls that person to holiness.”
The deacon will spend his summer working at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill and then return to the seminary for his final year before being ordained to the priesthood.
“It feels like this is what Christ was asking me to do,” he said. “What is most important is following the will of God. It’s not my priesthood, it’s Christ’s priesthood. I’m cooperating with grace. Finding The Oratory was like finding home, coming home.”
Parishioners crowded around the deacon to offer congratulations.
“It was very special for my husband and me to be able to be here,” said Joanne Kazista, director of faith formation at All Saints Mission in Lake Wylie. She met Deacon Guzman during his pastoral year at the church in 2008.
“He’s very charismatic and the whole parish loved him,” Kazista said. “He would never say no if people needed him, and you never had to ask him twice to help with something. He is also just very easy to talk to.”
Father Cahill said Deacon Guzman “has a servant’s heart.”
“He always will have compassion for the poor, and he is very sensitive to those who are on the outskirts, the outsiders,” he said. “He has a tremendous amount of energy and gets a lot of respect from his colleagues at the seminary.”
Michelle Gorospe, of St. Anne Church in Rock Hill, said the deacon prayed with her and ministered to her family while she was pregnant with her seventh child. He also helped preside at the baby’s baptism. The 2-year-old boy’s middle name is Augustine in Deacon Guzman’s honor.
“It warmed my heart to see this ceremony today,” she said. “When I see someone like Deacon Guzman getting ordained, I feel hope for the future of the church.”