It was a cold but festive weekend in the Upstate when three men were ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on Dec. 12.
The morning saw Filip Wodecki ordained at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Simpsonville and then Brothers Giovannie B. Nuñez and Noly N. Berjuega, both of the Clerics Regular Minor, were ordained at Jesus, Our Risen Savior Church in Spartanburg that evening.
Men must spend at least six months as deacons before they can be ordained to the priesthood. During that time, they assist during the liturgy, proclaim the Gospel, assist at weddings outside Mass, baptize and preach.
The ceremonies were different in style and contained diverse congregations, but many who attended said it was special to have them in the Upstate on the same weekend.
At both ordinations, Bishop Guglielmone urged the men to pursue lives of dedicated service to the church, and to constantly remember to focus their ministry on the Gospel and the needs of others, not themselves.
“Remember that now you are not only a hearer of the Gospel, but also its ministers,” he said.
He acknowledged the families, including Irena and Czeslaw Wodecki who traveled from Poland.
“I want to say thank you to Filip for the generosity of accepting the Lord’s call,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “I also want to thank his parents, because they have given not just Filip to a vocation, but also his brother Jeremi.”
Father Jeremi Wodecki was ordained in the Diocese of Charleston in 2007 and is parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston. His brother said he was happy to take one more step toward ordination.
“It feels good to be a deacon because it’s been a long way to get here,” he said. “Now I’m looking forward to the priesthood.”
Jim and Alice Lee, members of St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton, are friends with the Wodecki family.
“We knew Filip’s love for the church and for Christ was so strong, and it’s so beautiful to see it come to fruition,” Mr. Lee said. “He makes you feel excited about the church again.”
Deacon Wodecki is in his fourth year of theology at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich., and will complete his pastoral year at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
“His ordination is great news for the diocese and a sign of many more blessings to come,” said Msgr. John Kasza, academic dean at Sts. Cyril and Methodius. “Filip brings a global perspective and also a true love of the church to his ministry.”
In Spartanburg, Bishop Guglielmone talked about the important role undertaken by the Adorno order in the diocese, which includes service at three parishes and one mission.
St. Francis Caracciolo and Fathers Augustine Adorno and Fabrizio Caracciolo founded the order in the 16th century. Members are dedicated to divine worship centered on Eucharistic devotion, and the order’s main house of formation in the United States is in Ramsey, N.J.
Deacon Nuñez will serve his pastoral year at Jesus, Our Risen Savior, and Deacon Berjuega will be assigned to Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek.
Both men have studied at Immaculate Conception School of Theology at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
Deacon Nuñez is the youngest of eight children of Joelito and Nena Nuñez of the Philippines, and the second member of his family to pursue a vocation.
Sister Norma Nuñez, the oldest of the eight, has been a member of the Hospitaler Sisters of Mercy in Pleasantville, N.J., for almost 20 years. She made the trip south for her brother’s ordination.
“It’s a real privilege to have someone in the family who will be a priest,” Sister Norma said. “He has been involved in the church since he was very young, since he was an altar server. It’s nice now to have two of us who have vocations, and our parents are very proud of him.”
“It feels really good to be a deacon because I can feel the Holy Spirit working in my life,” Deacon Nuñez said. “I feel a real excitement and I am now longing for the priesthood because that’s the final confirmation of my vocation. It takes a lot of courage to decide to follow a vocation, and now that I’m closer to the priesthood I feel blessed and ready to serve God.”
Deacon Berjuega, also from the Philippines, is one of five children of Nilo and Helenita Berjuega. He first felt drawn to the priesthood when he was an altar server as a youth.
“I kept hearing the call over the years but kept saying no, I need to wait and see some of life first,” he said. “I studied in the Philippines and got a degree in computer science.
“After graduation, I met the Adorno Fathers, and finally said ‘yes’ to the Lord. I’m looking forward to the future with joyful expectation and prayer!” he said.