The smell of incense drifted across St. Theresa Church in Little Rock May 23 before Mass started, a prelude to one of many traditions in the Church, the ordination to the diaconate of two seminarians studying for the priesthood.
Victor Ruben Quinteros Carrizo and Anthony Monroe Robbins were ordained by Bishop Anthony B. Taylor and were welcomed by the congregation and priests of the diocese.
Before the bilingual Mass started, people walked into church and observed a number of benches in the parish were reserved for family and concelebrating priests.
The choir started to warm up and rehearse almost an hour before the 10 a.m. Mass was to start. People started arriving early. Outside, Boy Scouts, in uniform, from the parish troop helped direct traffic to parking spots, while St. Theresa Junior CYM members, in their Sunday best, served as ushers and greeters. Approximately 550 attended the Mass.
Quinteros, son of Bianca Cristina Carrizo of Catamarca, Argentina, is a member of St. Theresa Church.
Robbins is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Robbins and is a member of Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church. Both parishes are in Little Rock.
Quinteros and Robbins were called forth by a deacon and were presented to Bishop Taylor by Msgr. Scott Friend, diocesan director of vocations. After being assured the two men were worthy candidates, the bishop prayed both in English and then in Spanish.
"Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate," he prayed over each one of the candidates.
Quinteros and Robbins promised to undertake the office of deacon and to assist the priests, as well as to serve the faithful, to live a life of prayer, celibacy and respect and to obey the bishop and his successors.
The bishop laid hands on the two men and prayed the Prayer of Ordination. The men received their liturgical vestments and the Book of the Gospels.
"Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become," Bishop Taylor told the two men. "Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."
The two newly ordained deacons were then welcomed by the priests and deacons present.
St. Theresa Church was crowded as Catholics from around the state gathered to celebrate the Eucharist and the ordination of the two men.
"Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate," Bishop Taylor told those present. Applause erupted as the congregation showed their assent.
The celebration continued after the Mass with a reception at the parish center.
Robins and Quinteros were happy to have reached this stage in their priestly formation, but understood what it meant.
"It means blessings, graces, surrender, being able to finally lay down my life for the love of God, for the love of my brothers and sisters in the Church and give myself completely over as a witness to God's love," Robbins said.
"It is completing another step in the process God has in store for us," Quinteros said in Spanish. "It is an honor for me to be able to serve the Church here in Little Rock"
Robbins celebrated his first Mass as a deacon May 24 at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock. Quinteros celebrated his first Mass as a deacon May 24 at St. Theresa Church.
Quinteros will spend the next year at St. Theresa as a deacon assisting in the parish before returning for his final year at St. Mary Seminary in Houston. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2011.
Robbins has one more year remaining at St. Meinard Seminary in Indiana. Robbins is scheduled to be ordained a priest in 2010.
On July 11, Eddie D'Almeida from St. Joseph Church in Conway and James Melnick of St. Jude Church in Jacksonville will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Taylor at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock. They attended the Pontifical North American College in Vatican City.
Currently, the diocese has 27 seminarians, representing a 44-percent increase in the past four years. Three graduating high school seniors signed letters of intent earlier this month announcing plans to become seminarians this fall for the Diocese of Little Rock at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, Texas.
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