Colin Blatchford, Tony Budnick, Julian Cardona, Adam Kane enter transitional diaconate
Calling it “a great and historic day for the Diocese of Knoxville,” Bishop Richard F. Stika ordained four men to the transitional diaconate June 22 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Colin Blatchford, Tony Budnick, Julian Cardona, and Adam Kane all received holy orders in the Mass.
It was the diocese’s second four-person ordination and first in nearly 20 years. On Nov. 27, 1993, future priests David Boettner, Patrick Brownell, Tom Moser, and Sean Poland were ordained to the diaconate at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cleveland. Twice the diocese has ordained three priests on one day.
Father Boettner, now the cathedral rector and a vicar general, concelebrated the ordination Mass along with Monsignor Bob Hofstetter, dean of the Five Rivers Deanery, and Father Ron Franco, CSP, dean of the Smoky Mountain Deanery. Assisting were Deacons Sean Smith and Arthur Torres Barona, with diocesan seminarians serving at the altar. More than 30 additional priests and 21 deacons attended.
Among the priests were seminary representatives Father Kristian Teater, dean of men at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, where Deacons Blatchford and Kane attend; Father Byron Haaland, SCJ, of Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., where Deacon Budnick is enrolled; and Father Ron Knott of St. Meinrad School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind., where Deacon Cardona is a student.
On the morning of the ordination, Bishop Stika began his day with a walk in his neighborhood, during which he ran into a woman who knew him.
“She recognized me and she said, ‘What a beautiful day it is today, Bishop.’ And I wanted to say, ‘You don’t know the half of it,’” he said. “I didn’t say that, but as I said earlier, this is a special moment in the life of the Church in Knoxville. We have 19 men studying for the priesthood and six entering next year, and over the next year or so we’ll have six priests [ordained], which is a true celebration of the faith of the community of the Catholic Church in East Tennessee.”
The bishop said “on this day we celebrate the diaconate, as we celebrate four men who have been involved in formation for a number of years, how they have been analyzed and prodded and reviewed. How they have been challenged, how they have been supported in their formation knowing the importance of their work as they respond to the call of Jesus to come and to follow and to build his kingdom.
“They have been told what ministry is about, what it should look like, what you should do in various situations. . . . You’re willing to present your life to our Lord Jesus and to present your life to the Church universal, but even more than that, you present your life to the good and wonderful people of East Tennessee, the Catholic Church which celebrates 25 years of existence beginning in September.”
Bishop Stika said the diaconate reminds us to be ministers of charity, to proclaim the word of God, but not just proclaim the word of God by words but by actions.
By virtue of their ordination, the new deacons will receive abilities to baptize, “stand before the people of God and break open the Word and preach it,” and assist the bishop and priests in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the bishop said.
“In each and every activity that you are involved in as ministers of Jesus Christ, I think the invitation of the Lord is a reminder to be of service,” he said, adding that “if you fall into that situation where you have this expectation of having something coming to you and for you, then already you’ve lost a sense of what it means to be a celibate man in the world in which we live today.”
Bishop Stika said the ordination Mass was more than just a journey toward the office of presbyter, or priest.
“Also it’s a reminder of God’s goodness and his love for you and for all of us as he provides for us through the sacraments, through nourishment of our faith, both in the sacrament of the Eucharist and the proclamation of God’s Word,” he said. “Don’t take it for granted. Don’t take it lightly, because it’s a gift from God.”
The new deacons “make a commitment today to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church,” the bishop said. “They make a commitment to you. But you too must make a commitment to them, to pray for them, to give them guidance, to give them the support, to give them the gift of who you are as they give themselves to you.”
The bishop ended his homily with a promise for the four deacons to “pray that your ministry might be fruitful, that your ongoing formation will never end, and that you will know that you are a servant of the Gospel, a minister of charity, and a brother of faith to us all.”
Bishop Stika closed the Mass with a special word of thanks to the parents of the newly ordained.
“I thank them for life and faith and for your guidance. They always say that the first seminary is actually the home, so we pray that you might continually be blessed in the work that they do in a special way. As family members, you are an extension of their hands as they reach out as the hands of Jesus Christ.”
Home parishes for the newly ordained men are St. Jude in Chattanooga for Deacon Blatchford and Deacon Cardona, St. Albert the Great for Deacon Budnick, and St. Mary in Johnson City for Deacon Kane.
Deacon Blatchford spoke of the diaconate ordination as one of the last steps before priestly ordination.
“This is conforming me to be a servant to the faithful of God, so that I can understand how to be conformed to Christ next year, so it’s unreal,” he said. “Nothing in my wildest dreams could have prepared me for this.”
Deacon Budnick received the honor of assisting Bishop Stika during the Liturgy of the Eucharist after the rite of ordination. His voice broke with emotion as he described the day.
“I was just honored and blessed and still so privileged to be serving the people of this diocese, and it was wonderful to have so many friends and family here in attendance,” he said. “It’s going to be a real honor for me to be a member of the presbyterate here, but first a member of the deacons here in the diocese.”
Deacon Cardona said “finally this day comes.”
“I’m so grateful and pleased with God, and I am excited, and this is the best day in my life so far,” he said.
Ordination day also was a feast day for two saints important to Deacon Kane.
“I’m emotionally very happy that it happened on this date, on the 22nd, because I have a great devotion to St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, so for me to have it on that day was a very, very good thing for me,” Deacon Kane said. n