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Diocese Celebrates Ordination of Joseph Ortega


On Saturday, December 17, Bishop Bernard A. Hebda ordained Deacon Joseph Ortega to the priesthood for the Diocese of Gaylord. More than 800 gathered at St. Mary Cathedral for the celebration which brought to a close the diocese’s 40th Jubilee Year.

“When we considered how it is that we as a church would celebrate our 40th jubilee, we very much wanted to end our celebration a high note and we can’t get much higher than the ordination of Deacon Joseph Ortega,” Bishop Hebda said. “It’s a way in which we’re able to be mindful of the forty years of history but certainly it leaves us looking toward the future for all of the good things that Joseph and all of our priests will accomplish as we go forward in these next 40 years.”

Deacon Peter Wigton chanted the Gospel reading for the day illuminating the genealogy of Jesus Christ which provided the framework for Bishop Hebda’s homily.

“God the Father has that same kind of attentiveness now that he had at the beginning of time as he prepared the way for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob,” Bishop Hebda noted. “In this season of Advent, God continues to make sure that there are suitable links in the chain to carry us forward as we await Jesus to come again.”

“We come together as a Church really to express our gratitude for God’s great love for us by giving to us a new priest, a new sign of life, someone who’s able to make Jesus present to us so that we might know of God’s closeness to us,” Bishop Hebda added.

On the eve of the ordination, Bishop Hebda celebrated Evening Vespers in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Deacon Ortega offered a homily sharing his thoughts and reflections on his call and preparation for the priesthood and to the strength we all can draw from the Eucharist.

Deacon Ortega began his preparation at St. Joseph College Seminary of Loyola University in Chicago on September 11, 2001. “That was my first day of official formation,” Deacon Ortega said. “On that day, I learned how to pray the breviary and I learned what fear can do. Fear can do two things in your life: It can disempower you or it can empower you to do great and mighty things.

Deacon Ortega explained it took him ten years to complete his preparation and that he initially had a plan. “Throughout my journey I thought I knew when and where I was going to be ordained. But what I forgot to ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit was ‘Where do you need me the most in your vineyard?’ It could have been anywhere, but God chose me specifically for the Diocese of Gaylord. I graciously accept this invitation and it’s all because of Jesus.”

During the Ordination ceremony, the love of the people for the new priest was demonstrated when Bishop Hebda accepted the testimony of Fr. Don Geyman, Director of Vocations, as to Deacon Ortega’s readiness for priesthood. The assembly erupted into thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

At the end of the liturgy, Bishop Hebda announced that the newly ordained Fr. Joseph Ortega has been assigned Parochial Vicar at St. Patrick Parish in Traverse City effective January 9, 2012.

The next priestly ordination is planned to take place in June, 2012 for Deacon Peter Wigton.

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