Diocesan seminarian Arthur Torres Barona a step closer to priesthood

Arthur Torres Barona stands before Bishop Richard F. Stika during the seminarian’s ordination into the transitional diaconate Dec. 1 at St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
Photo by Dan McWilliams

JOHNSON CITY — Arthur Torres Barona is an important step closer to the priesthood following his ordination into the transitional diaconate Dec. 1 at St. Mary Church in Johnson City.
Bishop Richard F. Stika welcomed the seminarian into the diaconate during an ordination Mass attended by priests and deacons from across the Diocese of Knoxville.
“I wish to thank Arthur for responding to the call of Jesus to be a true missionary of the Gospel — traveling from the mountains of Columbia to the mountains of East Tennessee,” Bishop Stika said. “And so with this missionary zeal, I will ask you to commit yourself to the people of God as a transitional deacon.”
Deacon Barona, the son of Duvan Torres Gil and Ana Julia Barona of Cali, Colombia, is attending seminary at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wis., and is among 19 young men in the diocese currently studying for the priesthood. He is the second seminarian ordained into the transitional diaconate this year.

Arthur Torres Barona addresses parishioners at St. Mary Church in Johnson City on Dec. 1 near the conclusion of Mass for his ordination into the transitional diaconate.
Photo by Dan McWilliams

In August, Christopher Manning, a student at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, was ordained a deacon. Dustin Collins was ordained into the priesthood at Sacred Heart Cathedral in June. Father Collins now is a parochial vicar at St. Mary Church in Oak Ridge.
As he prepared to lay hands on Deacon Barona during the ordination Mass, Bishop Stika prayed that the seminarian will be given the wisdom of the office that he will hold and will be able to preach the Gospel effectively.
Informing the young deacon that he has been found worthy to advance into the diaconate, Bishop Stika, in his homily, advised Deacon Barona of the many duties he will perform in his vocation — from proclaiming the Gospel, preparing the Eucharistic sacrifice, performing baptisms and providing viaticum to the dying to teaching the faith from the pulpit, in parishioners’ homes, at the soccer field or at a parish festival while sitting in a dunking booth.
“Relying on the help of the Lord God and our savior, Jesus Christ, we choose this man, our brother, for the Order of the Deacon. These words are pretty powerful, the concept may be a bit mystifying and the task enormous, and yet here we are with our dear brother Arthur, celebrating a moment that will have an immense effect on his life, and in reality on all of us and those we represent — of course relying on the help of God,” Bishop Stika said.
Bishop Stika encouraged Deacon Barona to follow the example of St. Francis of Assisi, “who challenged his friars to preach the Gospel always, and to, at times, even use words.”
Principal concelebrants at the Mass were Father David Boettner, diocesan vicar general and moderator of the curia, Father Thomas Knoeble of Sacred Heart School of Theology, Father Michael Cummins, diocesan director of vocations, and Father Peter Iorio, pastor of St. Mary Church. Father Randy Stice, diocesan director of worship and liturgy, and Deacon Gary Brinkworth served as masters of ceremonies. Deacon George Fredericks of St. Mary Church served as deacon of the Word.
The St. Mary Church choir, directed by Dolores Fredericks, led the music.
Deacon Barona, who is in his fourth year in the United States and in his second year at St. Mary Church, addressed St. Mary parishioners as the Mass concluded, thanking them for their support. He also said he is excited to reach this point in his vocation.
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for. It’s a great opportunity to configure myself with Christ in the service with his people and the parishioners of St. Mary,” he said.

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