Family, friends and strangers saw 33-year-old Christopher Gossen ordained to the diaconate May 27 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
“Now, Chris, my son, you are going to be elevated to the Order of the Diaconate,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said in his homily. “By the providence of God, this happens on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a great day to be ordained.”
Earlier, the bishop spoke generally about the role of a deacon. “Strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, you will help the bishop and the priests in the ministry of the word, the altar and charity.”
Along with the rite, Bishop Olmsted also described a variety of different tasks for the deacon: to proclaim the Gospel, to prepare the sacrifice of the Mass, to distribute the Body and Blood of the Lord, to exhort believers and non-believers, to instruct them of holy doctrine, baptize, preside over public prayer, assist and bless marriages, bring Viaticum (Holy Communion) to the dying and conduct funeral duties.
The Prelate also spoke of a “divine life and divine love” which created Gossen and built on the theme of God’s love. “Divine love led you into the desert and spoke to your heart. Divine love has freed you from sin and fear,” Bishop Olmsted said.
After turning to earlier scriptures and to St. Paul, the bishop referred to an apparent vocational call for Gossen.
“The moment you surrender to love, that is, to God, you begin to walk in freedom, the freedom that allows you to accept Jesus’ invitation: ‘Come, follow I will make you a fisher of men.'”
Immediately after the homily, Bishop Olmsted asked Gossen a series of questions of commitment such as remaining celibate forever and praying with and for the people of God and also the whole world in the Liturgy of the Hours. Soon after, the choir, celebrants, and congregation sang the Litany of Saints, and soon after Bishop Olmsted ordained Dcn. Gossen with the laying on of hands.
Immediately after the ordination prayer, Dcn. Gossen was invested with a diaconal stole and a dalmatic (outer garment) and he attended his ordination mass, including the distribution of Holy Communion.
Dcn. Gossen’s family, including his grandparents, had reserved seats in the first two rows of the cathedral. After mass, Dcn. Gossen’s parents, Jerry and Tina Gossen, spoke to the Sun.
“It’s the culmination of a long journey for my son, and a blessed journey,” Jerry said, adding that they are looking forward to the year ahead, where Dcn. Gossen will serve parishes in the Denver area where he attends St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and until next June 1, when Dcn. Gossen is to be ordained a priest.
When asked what he thought seeing the bishop laying hands on his son and serving him at Mass as a deacon, Jerry stopped and said “blessed”.
“It was scary too,” Jerry continued with a laugh. “He’s your son and you gave him to the Lord, and that’s basically what his mother and I did.”
“I feel really happy for Christopher because he’s doing what he loves and that’s his calling,” Tina added.
Before encountering a steady stream of supporters at a post-mass reception, Dcn. Gossen considers receiving the sacrament.
“It was (an) absolutely beautiful, very surreal mass,” Dcn said. Gossen. “I walked in with no expectations and God’s grace descended and filled me with so much joy and peace, and it was a beautiful day.”
Dcn. Gossen noted that the Mass went faster than he had expected and the beautiful words of the bishop’s consecration prayer.
“The moment that really hit it all was praying for the saints in the Litany of the Saints,” Dcn said. Gossen. “It was the greatest, greatest moment of peace and joy that came over me, knowing that all the saints in heaven are also praying for me at this time.”