Catholic Sentinel photos by Gerry Lewin
Rev. Mr. Mark Bentz prepares the altar during his deacon ordination Mass.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Gerry Lewin
Rev. Mr. Mark Bentz prepares the altar during his deacon ordination Mass.
JORDAN — A small country church was full Sunday as hundreds celebrated a man becoming a servant.

Rev. Mr. Mark Bentz, who grew up attending Our Lady of Lourdes Church here, was ordained to the diaconate. He'll spend the next year living out diakonia, or service to God and God's people and hopes to be ordained a priest next spring.

"Deacons do teach and catechize, proclaim the gospel, preach at Mass and assist during liturgy. But first and foremost, they are to be like Christ, the one who came 'not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,'" Archbishop John G. Vlazny told worshipers gathered in the 92-year-old house of prayer.    

Rev. Mr. Bentz is one of six children of Clint and Maureen Bentz. His father is longtime chairman of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.

Young Mark attended elementary school at Lourdes Academy in Scio and graduated from Regis High School in Stayton in 2004. After attending Franciscan University in Steubenville, he entered Mount Angel Seminary in 2006. A skilled juggler and stage performer, he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and religious studies from Mount Angel 2008. He then attended the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium earning a Sacred Theology Bachelor degree in Theology and Religious Studies in 2010. Most recently, he has been studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.

Rev. Mr. Bentz' ministry training has included working with the Missionaries of Charity in Ethiopia, studying in a Spanish immersions program in Querétaro, Mexico, and a pastoral intern year at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish in Astoria.

"All ordained ministry is a form of service," Archbishop Vlazny told the congregation, many of whom watched Rev. Mr. Bentz grow up. "No priest or bishop must ever forget that his primary call is to be deacon, to be servant, to be involved in particular in the charitable work of the church."  

The ordination came on the feast of the birth of St. John the Baptist, seen in church tradition as a prefiguring of the role of the ordained deacon and priest. John was a herald of Christ.

"The priest or deacon is, like John the Baptist, merely a forerunner, a servant of the Word," the archbishop said. "It is not he who matters, but the Lord."

The archbishop made a case for celibacy, calling it a sign of undivided love and complete willingness to serve. He warned the new deacon that celibacy will be empty of meaning without "simplicity of life, an obedient heart and lifelong prayer."

The archbishop acknowledged that many parishioners in Jordan probably watched young Mark and wondered what would become of him.

"I sincerely believe that today we celebrate the good news that Mark Bentz is becoming exactly what God wants him to be," the archbishop explained, "a voice who proclaims the word, a man of prayer who serves as our advocate before the throne of God, a servant who nourishes, strengthens and guides us on our journey of faith to the eternal glory we all one day hope to share in the heavenly kingdom."

Rev. Mr. Bentz is not the first member of his family to become a deacon. He is the grandson of the late Ron Bentz, one of the first permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Portland.

Permanent deacons are mature married men who accept the diaconal role for a lifetime. Transitional deacons like Rev. Mr. Bentz usually are ordained priests after about a year.