Two New Deacons
+Double ordination twice as ‘awesome’
BY TONI CASHNELLI
When there’s a standing ovation, "It means something awesome has happened," said Auxiliary Bishop Joe Binzer. He was so right.
This particular ovation was aimed at Br. Clifford Hennings and Br. Roger Lopez. With proud parents looking on, both were ordained to the Order of the Diaconate on Aug. 29 at St. Clement Church in Cincinnati. Most people present felt a sense of parental pride in two men they had known for years, men who had grown into roles they seemed born to inhabit. It was the most natural thing in the world.
Bishop Binzer, at home among the friars, made it real and relaxed. "Three months ago Roger called me," he said in his homily. "He said, ‘Clifford and I were wondering if we could go to lunch so you know what we look like.’" They decided to meet for chili. "We’re sitting in Skyline and we’re having this wonderful conversation." After lunch they were informed by the waitress, "Someone paid the bill," a woman who had left quietly. "What a kind, generous person," Bishop Binzer thought. "That’s when I realized again how great it is to be with the Franciscans."
Words of advice
His homily was a call to service. The first advice that came to mind, the Bishop said with a backward glance at celebrant Fr. Jeff Scheeler, was "to obey your superiors." But the best advice he could offer was simply, "Follow the Lord". Last November, the Bishop said, Pope Francis reminded us "that bishops, priests and deacons can serve with humility. We’re blessed by Franciscans and Clares [who show] what it is to follow Jesus with humility. I encourage you to lead with your hearts," he told Roger and Clifford.
"Show yourselves to be the servants of all. May the word of God come alive in you." Outreach to those in need is likewise a part of this ministry of charity, the Bishop said. Do not forget, "We serve not because of our strength but because of the strength of Jesus Christ. The strength we draw [by seeking God’s will] allows us to evangelize, to share what we have heard. People need to hear and see that message." Speaking for all, he said, "We offer our fervent prayers not just for today but for every day to come."
From the Promise of the Elect to the Welcome to the Order of the Diaconate, all went smoothly for Roger, moved by emotion during the Litany of the Saints, and Clifford, who sighed with relief after receiving the Book of the Gospels.
After communion Jeff offered his own take on the Bishop’s Skyline experience with friars. "I have a sneaky suspicion that the lady who paid the bill at Skyline did it because you were with the Bishop, not the other way around." Addressing the new deacons, Jeff said, "I would like to suggest that as you exercise this office that you continue to do so as Friars Minor, as a brother who is humbly sering his bdrothers an sisters." To the Hennings and Lopez families, he said, "We will try to love and cherish them as much as you do."
At the reception that followed, Clifford’s dad, Karl, admitted he had more on his mind that day than the ceremony. "I was remembering the day he was born. It was the best day of my life." Roger’s mom, Carlotta, said, "I knew that he had a calling, but I didn’t know what calling. I never thought it would come to this. I pray that he’ll be guided by the Holy Spirit to serve God with all his heart."
And despite the mantle of responsibility that has settled on her son, "He’s not gonna change," she says. "He’s still the same Roger."