Nine men – six from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, two from the Diocese of Youngstown and one from the Diocese of Daegu, South Korea – were admitted to candidacy for ordination as deacons and priests during a Mass on Aug. 30 in Resurrection Chapel at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe.
Bishop Nelson Perez was the celebrant for the liturgy that traditionally takes place at the beginning of the seminary scholastic year. Concelebrants included the candidates’ pastors, spiritual advisors and members of the seminary faculty and staff.
The candidates, who are in their first year of theological study and priestly formation at Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology are Michael Francis Garvin, Maxwell Vincent Giorgi, Bradley Clark Jasko, Jeffrey Stephen Liptak, Luke Adam McNeill and Thuc Francis Tri Nguyen for the Diocese of Cleveland; Kevin John Bertleff and William Nicholas Wainio for the Diocese of Youngstown and Duckhyun Fabian Han for the Diocese of Daegu.
Bishop Perez accepted them as candidates for the sacrament of holy orders as they continue their discernment and formation for the diaconate and priesthood for service to their dioceses.
“God initiated your call,” the bishop told the men.
The bishop said he’s been asked when he heard his own call to a vocation as a priest. “I heard lots of calls,” he said, but if God hadn’t initiated the call, he wouldn’t have heard it and answered it, he explained.
He encouraged the seminarians to be faithful to what they’ve learned. “You will hear lots of words, but only one is the word of salvation,” he added.
Speaking of the call to a priestly vocation, the bishop said it happens as the result of an encounter with the Lord. “That original encounter was followed by others. We are never the same after an encounter,” he told them.
Joy is born from a free encounter, the bishop said, reflecting the words of Pope Francis to seminarians. “God says you are important to me. It’s not your choice to become a priest or a seminarian,” he told the men. In fact, the Holy Father said he doesn’t like it when priests or seminarians say that. He said when the pope addressed the seminarians, he reminded them that they “heard something inside and answered it.”
The bishop said after the men hear their call as candidates for holy orders, they say, “Here I am. Send me.” And after being duly tested, he said they will be called and ordained.
“By practicing virtues you will grow and be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and your desire for ordination will be filled with joy,” he added.