Near the altar, from left: Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins, Seminarian Garrett McGowan, Deacon Matthew Murray, Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, Deacon Oscar Rojas Martinez, Seminarian Mark Tannehill and Rev. Alexander Castillo
All: RAÚL AYRALA/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
Family, friends and clergy filled Old Mission San Jose for the ordination.
New deacons ordained
Seminarians Óscar Rojas Martinez, 28, and Matthew Murray, 27, were ordained to the transitional deaconate by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, on May 28 in Old Mission San Jose, Fremont, joined by Bishop Emeritus John S. Cummins and many friends, family and priests. Bishop Barber urged the new deacons "to stick on their refrigerators or the place where they shave" the "recipe for ministry that should serve them for the rest of their lives," a phrase taken from the prayer of consecration of deacons. The bishop continued: "What stands out in all virtues: In sincere love, concern for the sick and the poor, in a discreet authority, personal discipline and the sanctity of his own life."
In their own words
Deacon Matthew Murray
'I am here to serve'
I come from a family of 11 children and two loving parents. I was very young when I began to learn about the Catholic faith and my parents made sure that I was raised in a home centered upon God's will. After receiving First Holy Communion, I began to serve Mass every Sunday. I believe it was then that I first began to hear God's call to become a priest.
I was home schooled throughout middle school and high school. At the same time I continued to learn about the Catholic faith both at home and in the parish. I was also blessed with the opportunity to deepen a life of prayer.
I was able to attend daily Mass and take care of the sacristy before starting homework. I also had a number of good friends who encouraged me to have a relationship with Christ in the Eucharist and with our Lady. I also became friends with a number of good priests who lived their vocation with a spirit of generosity.
While I was thinking about the priesthood, I decided to attend the University of Dallas. There I was able to deepen my relationship with God and I also realized my passion for reading and study. I began to think that I was called to be a teacher or professor and I started to plan my life in that direction.
Yet the more I tried to plan out my life, the more I realized a sense of restlessness. After two years at the University of Dallas, I was unable to return for my junior year due to financial reasons and I began to work.
At this point I was really trying to discern God's will for my life and I continued to pray. After a period of time I began to hear the call to serve God as a priest again.
At the time I was reading the life of St. Pope John Paul II. His heroic life as priest, bishop, and pope had a profound effect on me. I decided to look into the diocesan priesthood and continued to pray for God's guidance through the intercession of our Lady. A year after rediscovering the call I applied to be a seminarian for the Oakland diocese.
I studied philosophy and finished my bachelor of arts degree at Saint Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park. The priests and fellow seminarians there provided me with an excellent example of what it means to give oneself to the service of the Lord and His people.
In 2012 I began my studies in theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and I resided at the North American College.
Within my first year of studies in Rome, I was able to be present in St. Peter's Square when Pope Francis first made his appearance on the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.
For the rest of my time in Rome, I was often able to hear Pope Francis preach and be inspired by how seriously he follows the words of Christ in the Gospels.
Studying in Rome also gave me a deep appreciation for the history and the tradition of the Church. How fortunate we are to have received the faith preached by Christ's Apostles!
St. Josemaria Escriva is another priest who has inspired me to follow the call of the Lord to become a priest. He would begin each morning kissing the floor and saying, "I will serve."
Now that I have been ordained a deacon, I try to begin each day with the same sentiment: I am here to serve. The Lord has richly blessed me by showing me His mercy and choosing me to become one of His priests. My hope is that I will be generous in giving to others the gifts that He has given to me.
(Deacon Matthew Murray is serving his pastoral year at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School and St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda.)
In their own words
Deacon Oscar Rojas
'Follow Christ the Good Shepherd'
I was born on March 5, 1988, in Santo Tomas, San Salvador. My parents are Abraham Rojas and Blanca Isabel Martinez de Rojas. I have two siblings, my sister Gloria Maribel Rojas Martinez and my brother Luis Angel Rojas Martinez.
After a few years we moved to the village of my great-grandparents from my father's side. I grew up with them and they were going to Mass on Sundays and first Fridays of each month. They walked an hour to go to church, St. John the Baptist, Olocuilta, or St. Francis of Assis, Chinameca, every Sunday.
A few years later, the pastor began to celebrate Mass in my village and I started my faith formation for First Communion and Confirmation.
At this time, my parents and brothers became closer to the Church, because my brothers got involved in the chorus, liturgy group, catechesis and other ministries. I was a catechist for two years and altar server for about five years.
Serving as an altar server one day, the pastor asked me, "Do you want to go to the seminary?"
I said yes. I did not know what a seminary was. Later, the pastor asked me again and I said yes. A few months later, he explained to me what a seminary was. How was the life in the seminary? And who goes to the seminary? Why they go to the seminary. He said if you want to go to see how the seminary life is and if you feel that it is not your vocation, feel free to leave.
During the time that I was serving as altar server and catechist, I observed the pastor's life. I had seen that the priest came to celebrate Mass and confessions with love every Saturday. He drove his car an hour and a half to celebrate Mass every Saturday. He was very friendly with the people and he worked hard to bring more people and reach those who did not come to church. It developed a desire in my heart to follow Christ and go to the seminary to see if I liked the seminary life.
I went to the minor seminary in the Diocese of Zacatecoluca, La Paz, and I tried to do my best, because I wanted to continue my formation. I said to God, if I am in the seminary I am sure you called me here. If you want me to be a priest you will open the way for me. I finished two years of minor seminary and then I went to the major seminary for three years of philosophy.
At the end of philosophy, my Bishop Elias Samuel Bolaño asked me if I was able to go to study my theology in the Diocese of Oakland, California. I prayed to the Blessed Sacrament and I told God, you are the driver of my life; if you want me to go to study out of the country I will. I said yes.
English was a challenge to me, but I said, God, I will do my best and you will help me. If you want me here you will help me to overcome difficulties and persevere in my vocation to the priesthood. I studied two years of English and then I entered Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon to continue my theology. I just finished my third year of theology and I am happy to be ordained a transitional deacon. I have to study one more year of theology.
I am happy God is calling me to serve His people and I am willing to serve the people with love and follow Christ the Good Shepherd as the model of the priest.
(Deacon Oscar Rojas will continue his studies at Mount Angel Seminary in Oregon.)
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