By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published June 24, 2020 | En Español
ATLANTA–Joy and excitement filled the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta as two men completed a milestone on their journeys to the priesthood.
On Saturday, June 13, Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., ordained Robert “Robbie” Cotta and Paul Nacey as transitional deacons for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Concelebrants for the Mass were Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, and Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III, along with Father Tri John-Bosco Nguyen, director of vocations and Father Rey Pineda, associate director of seminarians. Additional priests, deacons and seminarians attended.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seating was limited in the cathedral. The Mass was available on livestream, reaching more than 400 viewers.
While Cotta and Nacey look forward to a year of baptisms, preaching the Gospel and immersing themselves in local faith communities, Archbishop Hartmayer elaborated on their roles during his homily.
“As a deacon, you are to carry to those on the periphery of society the father’s infinite and unconditional love,” said the archbishop. “You are to do so not at a distance, but through identification. You are to become poor with the poor. You are to suffer with those who suffer. You are to enter into the hopelessness of the desperate in order to convince them that nothing can ever come between us and the love of Jesus Christ.”
The archbishop encouraged Cotta and Nacey to fight against the busyness of our society, which causes basic insensitivity, unawareness and passive attitudes.
“Your diaconal ministry in the months ahead must be a means by which Christ calls us back from such complacency,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “Your diaconal ordination will strengthen you in the command of the Lord, to serve and not be served. That must imbue your personal character, your human formation and your priestly identity.”
During his homily, the archbishop also encouraged prayer.
“You cannot be a servant in the spirit of Jesus unless you pray constantly,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “In prayer, you will take on the mind and the heart of the Good Shepherd. My dear brothers, prayer is not optional. For Jesus’ minister, it is to be your life blood, your source of inspiration, your indispensable support.”
Families offer foundation
At the end of the celebration, Archbishop Hartmayer expressed to Kay Nacey, mother of Paul Nacey, that she wouldn’t have to lift a finger at home now there are two deacons in the family. Paul’s father, Wayne Nacey, serves as a deacon in North Carolina. He assisted Paul with vesting at the Mass.
“I don’t know how you’re going to do it with two deacons in your household,” said Archbishop Hartmayer. “But I can assure you, they are ordained to serve. You will never have to set a table again. You will never do another dish, wash another dish again. You have two deacons–no excuse.”
The archbishop’s comments were met with smiles and laughter from the congregation.
Born in Dallas, Texas, Paul Nacey said his family had the most impact on his journey to the priesthood.
“My family raised me, kept me close to the church,” said Paul.
Previously, Deacon Wayne Nacey served at St. Peter Church in LaGrange.
In this next year as a transitional deacon, Paul looks forward to baptisms and welcoming people into the church. His assignment as transitional deacon will be at St. Bernadette Church in Cedartown.
Deacon Wayne hopes his son learns to serve people at his new parish.
“People let you into their life and in many ways it’s a tremendous blessing,” said Deacon Wayne.
The family is excited for Paul, said Deacon Wayne. The most important thing is that he’s answering God’s call, he said.
The call to priesthood has been on Robbie Cotta’s heart since he was a young child.
“I first noticed it in the Mass,” said Cotta. “I was drawn to what the priest was doing. And as my mom taught me about everything that was taking place, I became more and more fascinated with the sacred liturgy.”
Cotta was born and raised in Johns Creek, where he attended both St. Benedict and St. Brigid parishes.
“Both of those faith communities played a huge role in my own formation as I encountered Christ in the beauty of the sacred liturgy, witnessed priesthood being lived out with fidelity, devotion and love, and met Christ in the Eucharist,” said Cotta. He was vested by Deacons Leo Gahafer and Tom Huff, who both serve at St. Brigid.
Baptisms and preaching are what Cotta looks forward to in diaconal ministry. He also looks forward to officiating a few of his friends’ weddings within the next year. Cotta will serve as deacon at San Felipe de Jesus Church in Forest Park.
Kathy Cotta feels humbled and happy that God chose her son and helped him on the path to priesthood. She said that his heart, empathy and loving spirit will serve the ministry well.
“He’s never met a stranger,” she added.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no celebration at the church following the ordination Mass. However, Nacey and Cotta took time to sit in the empty cathedral for midday prayer.
“I can’t describe how humbling it is to be chosen, despite all of my imperfections, by Christ to participate in this ministry of compassion, self-gift and love,” said Cotta.