Juan Turcios, Jay Woods Ordained Transitional Deacons

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

CHICAGO — On the first Saturday of autumn, five men – including two members of Holy Name Province – were ordained as transitional deacons at a joyful Mass celebrated at St. Clare of Montefalco Chapel of St. Rita of Cascia Parish on Chicago’s south side. All of the men are students at Catholic Theological Union.

Among the group ordained to the diaconate at the Sept. 26 Mass were Juan de la Cruz Turcios, OFM, and Jay Woods, OFM. Auxiliary Bishop Mark Bartosic of Chicago celebrated the liturgy, which was live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Capuchin Franciscans-staffed parish. In accordance with COVID-19 health and safety regulations, attendance at the chapel was limited and clergy and guests wore masks, as is customary these days.

The new deacons — from left, Juan, Michael, Jay, Nicholas and Marc — with Bishop Bartosic, outside St. Rita of Cascia Church. (Photo courtesy of Michael Groark, OFM Cap)

The other men who were ordained as deacons were Nicholas Divine, CP, of Holy Cross Province; Michael Dorn, OFM Cap, of the Capuchin Province of St. Joseph; and Marc Scheckells, OFM, of Sacred Heart Province – the latter, like Holy Name Province, a member of the OFM English-speaking Conference.

During his homily, Auxiliary Bishop Bartosic exhorted the men to be bearers of the Good News, not merely through preaching, but by the way they choose to live their lives.

“It was a great way to affirm my promise to serve God’s people in a new way – to do sacrament work by becoming a deacon,” said Juan, who professed his first vows as a Franciscan in 2004 and his solemn vows in 2009.

Jay and Juan in the entrance procession. (Photo courtesy of Michael Groark, OFM Cap)

“The ceremony felt like great teamwork of Franciscans together with our Passionist brothers,” said Juan, adding that there were several highlights.

“While I was prostrated on the floor,  I was reminded of my solemn vows and my profession to my Franciscan brothers. On this occasion, the call was toward the sacramental ministry to the people of God,” he said.

The men expect to be ordained to the priesthood next year after serving as deacons and completing their necessary studies at CTU. Juan and Jay, who live at Blessed Giles Friary in Chicago, are both working toward a master of divinity degree.

Juan, a native of El Salvador, is serving his diaconate ministry in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana – roughly 30 miles from where he lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago – in the African-American Catholic community of Saints Monica and Luke Church and the Holy Angels Cathedral in Gary. He will also help at Holy Name Parish in Cedar Lake, Indiana.

“I look forward to learning a lot and starting a new journey in my life as a deacon with the spirit of St. Francis,” said Juan. “I expect to finish my degree next May and hope that after graduation, I will be ready for presbyterial ordination by the beginning of the summer.”

He added, “I am ready to start doing ministry and putting into practice my new academic and ministerial skills, doing sacramental work with the joy of being a Franciscan friar.”

Several days before the ordination Mass, Juan shared his thoughts in a video that was posted on Facebook.

Joe Rozansky at the ordination Mass. (Photo courtesy of Michael Groark, OFM Cap)

Jay, a native of Massachusetts, will be serving his diaconate year at Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine in Chicago, the oldest continuing Italian-American church in the Windy City. He was vested by Joe Rozansky, OFM, a member of the interprovincial post-novitiate formation team in Chicago.

“The ceremony felt incredibly special – to be surrounded by my parents, brothers, and many of our peers from Catholic Theological Union,” said Jay, who professed his solemn vows as a Franciscan this summer.

“Auxiliary Bishop Mark Bartosic, prior to him filling that position, was my supervisor when I served in ministry to the incarcerated at the Cook County Jail. It was a great honor to be ordained by someone who I respect so much,” Jay continued. “Bishop Mark is extremely humble and a model shepherd for me. His homily was personal to the lived experience of the five of us, encouraging each of us, like birds, to chirp hope in the midst of darkness and inspire others to join in the chirping.”

After the liturgy, Juan and Jay enjoyed a celebration at their friary. Several friars around the Province expressed their delight about the occasion through social media.

Kyle Haden, OFM, of St. Bonaventure University, posted, “Congratulations to my brothers Juan Turcios and Jay Woods on their diaconate ordination. The Church has gained two excellent sacramental ministers with these two.”

Daniel Horan, OFM, said on Facebook, “It was a joy to celebrate this morning the diaconate ordination of five members of Catholic Theological Union, four of whom are my Franciscan brothers! The Church rejoices.”

Although in recent years most HNP friars have been ordained to the diaconate in Chicago, several have reached this milestone elsewhere, including Wilmington, Delaware and Newfoundland, Canada.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.