Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
The new deacons acknowledge applause from the congregation.
Catholic Sentinel photos by Ed Langlois
The new deacons acknowledge applause from the congregation.
At St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Portland Saturday, eight men were ordained for service. Now deacons in the Catholic Church, they hope to become priests in the future.

Scott Baier, Manuel Becerra, Fredy Moreno, George Kuforiji, Edgar Rivera and Edwin Sanchez became deacons for the Archdiocese of Portland. Teodosio Brea and Juan Soria were ordained deacons for the St. John Society.

“We must always be reminded it’s not about us. It’s about Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Alexander Sample told the men before ordaining them with the ancient act of laying on of hands. The congregation, which filled the cathedral, sang a litany of saints, seeking heavenly help for the new deacons.

Reflecting on a reading from the Gospel of John, the archbishop told the men they have been called to love as Jesus loved — by laying down their lives.

“That, my brothers, is the way you must love God and must love God’s people,” the archbishop said. “Then your love will bear fruit.”

Referring to a reading in which the prophet Jeremiah protests that he does not know how to speak to the people, the archbishop told the men that he, too, has days when he is not sure he is up to the task. God offers encouragement at those times, the archbishop said.

“You are proclaiming the Gospel in a culture that is not always open to this message,” he explained, saying society is sometimes hostile to the Good News. “We need men today who are able to articulate the Gospel for the people of today.”

The archbishop asked the congregation to pray for the new deacons, who are “stepping into the front lines.”

Family and friends came for the rite, some from a long distance. A carload of men in African ceremonial dress arrived from Seattle to support Rev. Mr. Kuforiji, who was born in Nigeria.

Clint Dodge and Jim Bachman were in the cathedral on behalf of Rev. Mr. Sanchez, who served as a seminarian at their parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in Southeast Portland.  

“He’s going to make one great priest,” said Dodge. “He’s a very sincere person.” Bachman cites Sanchez’ sense of humor as a fine quality for a clergyman.

The men are called transitional deacons because they are in formation for priesthood. Permanent deacons are usually married men.

• Rev. Mr. Baier was born in 1978 in Edmonds, Wash. He attended elementary school in Vancouver, Wash., and graduated from Columbia River High School in 1996. He attended the University of Washington where he earned a bachelor's degree in Russian language and literature in 2001. Before entering the seminary, he worked with St. Luke Productions, as a volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity Brothers and as a community support specialist with Catholic Community Services. He entered Mount Angel Seminary in 2008.  

• Rev. Mr. Becerra was born in 1977 in Cúcuta, Norte de Santander, Colombia. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Cúcuta, graduating from high school in 1995. He studied at the Universidad Francisco de Paul Santander in Cúcuta and at the Universidad Minuto de Dios in Bogota, Columbia.
Rev. Mr. Becerra studied at the Congregation of Jesus and Mary Seminary in Bogota, and began studying for the Archdiocese of Portland in August, 2010, at St. Patrick's Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif.

• Rev. Mr. Moreno was born in 1982 in La Argentina, state of Huila, Colombia. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Al Argentina, Colombia graduating high school in 2001. He earned a degree in philosophy from Sepavi School in Medellin, Columbia in 2004. He then attended the seminary Villa Paúl in Funza, Colombia earning a theology degree in 2008. He entered Mount Angel Seminary in August, 2011.

• Rev. Mr. Kuforiji was born in 1951 in Oshogbo, Nigeria. He attended elementary school at St. Benedict Catholic School in Oshogbo, Nigeria and graduated from St. Joseph's College High School, Ondo, Nigeria in 1969. He studied at the University of Washington in Seattle, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering in 1983. Prior to entering the seminary, he worked with the Oregon Department of Transportation. He entered the seminary in 2010, and was installed as a lector and an acolyte in 2013. He is studying theology at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis.

• Rev. Mr. Rivera was born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico in April, 1981. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Tepic, Mexico, graduating high school in 1998. He attended the Universidad Autonoma de Nayarit in Tepic, where he earned a degree in accounting in 2004. He entered the Seminario Hispano de Santa Marie de Guadalupe in Mexico City in 2004. He attended the Instituto de Estudios Ecclesiasticos where he earned a degree in philosophy in 2007. He later enrolled at Mount Angel Seminary.

• Rev. Mr. Sanchez was born in 1985 in Bogota, Colombia. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Pitalito, Huila, Colombia, graduating high school in 2002. He entered the Seminary Maria Immaculada where he studied philosophy. He attended St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif., where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 2010. He is continuing his studies at St. Patrick's Seminary.

• Revs. Mr. Brea and Soria are members of the Saint John Society, a society of apostolic life approved by the Catholic Church in Argentina. The community of priests and missionaries specialize in the New Evangelization, developing programs which reach out to those who may have found themselves losing their connection with the Church. They lead campus ministry at Portland State University and Oregon State University.