By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published May 30, 2019 | En Español
ATLANTA—On Saturday, May 25, three men took a step on their journey toward the priesthood.
The three were ordained transitional deacons at the Cathedral of Christ the King to serve in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Rev. Mr. Míller Gómez Ruiz, Rev. Mr. Paul Porter and Rev. Mr. Cristian Cossio will preach the Gospel, visit the sick and celebrate baptisms and marriages as they continue their seminary studies. In the spring of 2020, they are expected to be ordained priests.
There are an estimated 1.2 million Catholics in the archdiocese, with more than half of the believers being Hispanic. The new deacons reflect that diversity.
Rev. Mr. Ruiz and Rev. Mr. Cossio are native Spanish speakers growing up in Colombia. Rev. Mr. Porter was raised in Georgia.
“I am originally from Colombia, so my native language is Spanish. I would like to accompany the Latino community as a deacon to bring to more people the word of God with a message of inclusiveness,” said Rev. Mr. Cossio, 33.
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, diocesan administrator, celebrated the Mass in the cathedral on Peachtree Road. He also ordained the men. He was joined by Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III and more than 30 priests of the archdiocese at the Mass. Several deacons assisted at the Mass.
It was Bishop Konzen’s first public role as the administrator of the archdiocese since his selection the day before by the twelve priests of the College of Consultors. He walked the long center aisle of the cathedral carrying the crosier, the pastoral staff. The chair reserved for the archbishop remained unused as Bishop Konzen sat in front of the altar.
In his homily, Bishop Konzen told the congregation and the deacons “humility is the watchword, my brothers, enthroned in the commanding and loving words of Jesus Christ.”
Drawing from ancient church writings, Bishop Konzen read the description of deacons written by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who called serving as deacon “the ministry of Jesus Christ who was with the Father before all ages.”
He said St. Polycarp of Smyrna encouraged church leaders to “be moderate in all things, merciful, diligent, living according to the truth of the Lord, who became the servant of all.”
As deacons, the men will preach and assist the priest at the altar during Mass. Bishop Konzen said they will also serve as the “minister of charity, caring in a fatherly way for the needs of the children of God as they move through life, encountering successes and setbacks along the way.”
Under the arched roof of the cathedral, the three men made promises of celibacy, prayer and obedience. Then Bishop Konzen laid his hands on the men completing the rite of ordination.
Following Jesus the most ‘joyful experience’
Among their roles as clergy, they may also witness weddings and baptize new believers.
Rev. Mr. Porter, 28, was inspired by a recent trip to Israel, tracing the historic sites of Jesus. “I am very excited about being able to baptize people into the faith. I was just in the Holy Land and I couldn’t help but think while I was at the River Jordan how fun it will be to start baptizing little babies into the faith.”
He is one of three boys of Mark and Carol Porter, who live in Marietta. His father sells HVAC systems while his mother works at a nonprofit supporting victims of human trafficking. The family worships at St. Ann Church in Marietta.
Father Michael Bremer and Father Branson Hipp assisted him at the ordination.
“They have both been great friends throughout my time in seminary and are two of the priests I admire most,” he said. “I don’t know where I would be without them. Probably thriving but I love those guys.”
He suggested people considering service as clergy or religious to “pray instead to want what God wants. It is tempting to think that Christianity is a lifetime of doing things we don’t want to do, rather than a fulfillment of the deepest desires of our heart—desires that God himself has placed there.”
Rev. Mr. Cossio is the son of Jaime León Cossio Herrera and María Aleyda Sepúlveda. Rev. Mr. Cossio asked Father Juan Anzora pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville, to vest him.
“Father Juan has helped to teach me how to be a servant of the Lord by always seeking to be accessible to those in need of God’s compassion,” Rev. Mr. Cossio said in an email.
Asked about people considering a vocation, Rev. Mr. Cossio said words of advice he heard is that if the desire is true “remember to persist, insist and never give up. God has great plans for you.”
Rev. Mr. Míller Gómez Ruiz, 30, began his seminary studies at 16. He said people considering a vocation as a priest should be confident.
“Don’t be afraid. Following Jesus is the most joyful experience,” he said.
The new deacon is the son of Carlos Alberto and Aurelia Ruiz.
Rev. Mr. Gómez asked Father Matthew Dalrymple to help with his diaconate vestments.
“I chose him because of his profound spirituality and his great testimony of a devout and joyful priestly life,” he said. “I admire his prayer life and his steadfast availability to the people of God.”
The three transitional deacons will serve in parishes in Johns Creek, Conyers and Kennesaw this summer.