Be an ‘image of the Gospel,’ Cardinal DiNardo tells 45 new permanent deacons

February 28, 2023

Deacon Carlos Hernandez Saavedra, at right, kisses his stole that was handed to him by Deacon Rey Croson during a Mass of Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate on Feb. 18 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo ordained 45 men, all from different walks of life, to the diaconate. They will serve at parishes and ministries across the Archdiocese. (Photos by James Ramos/Herald)

IN PHOTOS: Permanent Diaconate Ordinations

HOUSTON — At two separate Masses, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo ordained 45 new permanent deacons — 23 on Feb. 17 and another 22 on Feb. 18 — at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart after they “were found worthy” by their pastors and parishes.

Cardinal DiNardo thanked the men of diverse backgrounds, including a convert from Islam to Christianity, a NASA engineer, a Vietnamese refugee, and a mission worker in Latin America, for their continuing service and thanked their wives and families.

On Feb. 18, Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, joined Cardinal DiNardo to concelebrate the Mass, alongside Bishop José Elías Rauda Gutiérrez, O.F.M., of El Salvador, who also concelebrated the Mass on Saturday because he personally knew one of the deacons ordained that day.

After more than six years of discernment, study and pastoral counseling at St. Mary’s Seminary, these men and their wives will share their lives with the ministry of the Word, Liturgy and Charity — the three pillars of a deacon’s vocation — at their parishes and Archdiocesan ministries.

In his homily, Cardinal DiNardo told the deacons, “You are to be a living, breathing image of the Gospel — all four of them.”
He reminded all the new deacons and the filled Co-Cathedral of more than 1,500 each day that they are “as Jesus who came not to be served but to serve. Jesus is ransomed for His crooked people, and we are all crooked.”

Cardinal DiNardo added, “May Jesus the Servant help you all.”
At one point, Cardinal DiNardo asked the deacons to applaud their wives and family who walked with them along their journey to the diaconate, a moment which drew tender glances of affection and appreciation.

At the conclusion of each Mass, following the group photo, Cardinal DiNardo shared a quiet moment with the deacons before they were sent off to find their wives, families and loved ones. An intimate, striking moment, Cardinal DiNardo encouraged them personally, sharing his appreciation for their vocation to the permanent diaconate.

Pope to deacons: ‘Be sentinels’

In a June 2021 message to the deacons of Rome, Pope Francis encouraged the deacons at the Vatican and around the world to “be sentinels.”

“I expect you to be sentinels: not only to know how to spot the poor and the distant ... but to help the Christian community to recognize Jesus in the poor and the distant, as He knocks on our doors through them,” he said. “It is also a catechetical and prophetic dimension of the sentinel-prophet-catechist who knows how to see beyond and help others to see beyond and to see the poor who are far away. You can make your own beautiful image at the end of the Gospels when Jesus asks His disciples from afar: “Have you nothing to eat?” And the beloved disciple recognizes Him and says: ‘It is the Lord!’”

The pope also asked deacons to be humble.

“It is even sadder to see a deacon wanting to put himself at the center of the world, or at the center of the Liturgy, or at the center of the Church,” he said. “Be humble. Let all the good you do be a secret between you and God. And so it will bear fruit.”

Pope Francis also said he expected the deacons to be good spouses, fathers and grandfathers.

“This will give hope and consolation to couples who are going through difficult times and who will find in your genuine simplicity an outstretched hand,” he said. “Doing everything with joy, without complaining: it is a testimony that is worth more than many sermons. And out with the complaints.”

In love and service

At the Co-Cathedral after the Mass, many deacons moved through the crowded co-cathedral and began to give their first blessings as newly ordained permanent deacons. They blessed Rosaries, family members and even unborn babies.

Father Miguel Solorzano, pastor at St. Bartholomew Church in Katy, congratulated his newly ordained Deacon Sam Habibi, a convert from Islam to Christianity, whose wife Milly is originally from Peru.

Deacon Habibi served and preached at Masses on Feb. 19, as did many newly ordained deacons at their individual parishes.

The ordinations were livestreamed and can still be viewed at