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A message from the bishop

Ordinations remind us we are all called to serve

(June 2017)
My dear friends,
We are now in the ordination season throughout the Church in the United States, and Grand Rapids is no exception. Last month, the diocese celebrated the ordination of seminarian Michael Steffes to the transitional diaconate. God willing, Michael will join the ranks of the Grand Rapids presbyterate next June.

This month, we celebrate ordinations to the priesthood and permanent diaconate. Stephen Durkee, Steven
Geerling and Kyle Kilpatrick were ordained to the priesthood on June 3. Later this month, we have a special ordination celebration. Dean Vernon, Dennis Rybicki and Lance Walters – all married men with families – will be ordained to the permanent diaconate, the first such ordination in our diocese since 2006.
Currently, 37 permanent deacons serve the ministry of the word, the altar and charity in our parishes.
Our new permanent deacons will do the same. What a blessing the ordination of these deacons and priests will be for our local Church!
Every vocation is about serving God and others. Recall the great commandment: Love the Lord your God with all you have and are, and love your neighbor as yourself. That is why God created us, to love and serve. J-O-Y is a mnemonic we can use to remind us of the proper ordering of things in fulfillment of the great commandment. We are to love in this order: Jesus, Others, Yourself. Selfless, generous service is the secret to happiness. When we learn how we are to serve others and make this the Number 1 priority in our life, we will discover what it means to be happy.
God desires this happiness for us, because we possess it when we do His will and strive to fulfill the plans He has for us. Doing God’s will is also a good definition of holiness, so happiness and holiness are intertwined. The vocation of every Christian (and all the baptized have it) is to become like Jesus Christ. What is Jesus like? He tells us that the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and lay down his life in ransom for many. Jesus is God’s servant who was obedient to his Father’s will, even when it led to intense suffering and death on a cross. Jesus says to each of us, “What I have done, so you must do.” That’s the measure of success Jesus gives to his disciples.
Those who say “yes” to God’s plan for them will find the happiness that worldly pursuits promise, but cannot ultimately deliver. The key to discovering God’s plan lies in pursuing friendship with the Lord, believing in him and relating to him personally. Jesus wants to be friends! “I no longer call you servants,
but friends,” says the Lord, “because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you … to go and bear fruit that will remain. ...” Jesus will reveal to us our vocation in life, but we must spend time with him to learn what the Lord’s calling will be. This we do through consistent, personal prayer, reading the Gospels and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, wherein we receive the very body and blood of Christ himself. What if there were someone who wanted to be friends with you, and you were to say, “Fine, but you need to know that I am not going to spend a lot of time with you.” Friendship is something we enter into fully, and that is what Jesus offers us in calling us not servants, but friends. His invitation demands an abundant response!
As we reflect with joy and gratitude on the gift of newly ordained priests and deacons to serve our local Church, we realize all of us are called to help them build up God’s kingdom and bring others to Jesus and the divine friendship he offers them. This is how we become heralds of the New Evangelization: The baptized experience the joy of the Gospel by entering into a profound relationship with Jesus and by sharing our joy with those around us. May we embrace our call to holiness so that we may live out the vocation that the Father has lovingly given us!  
Sincerely yours in the Lord,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak