‘Joy in our hearts’ as four seminarians are ordained transitional deacons

Bishop Louis Tylka stands with the four men he ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Mary's Cathedral on May 21. They are (from left) Deacon Nathan Hopper, Deacon Ignacio Cárdenas Morán, Deacon Daniel Dionesotes and Deacon Patrick Wille. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The four seminarians of the Diocese of Peoria who became transitional deacons on May 21 were the first men ordained by Bishop Louis Tylka, and he passed along advice he was given at his own diaconate ordination in 1995 “when you weren’t even born.”

“Serve like the Lord,” said Bishop Tylka. “Hand on what you receive.”

Bishop Tylka and the assembly applaud the diaconate candidates after their formal acceptance at the start of the Rite of Ordination. From left are Ignacio Cárdenas Morán, Daniel Dionesotes, Nathan Hopper, and Patrick Wille. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Those words, written on a note pinned to a stole given Bishop Tylka by a priest who offered encouragement throughout his seminary years, were among the challenges he offered to Ignacio Cárdenas Morán, Daniel Dionesotes, Nathan Hopper, and Patrick Wille in the moments prior to their diaconate ordination at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

The cathedral was filled with family and friends of the new deacons as well as clergy and religious from throughout the diocese. The Mass was livestreamed and an archived video of the liturgy may be viewed here.

“We gather with much joy in our hearts today,” said Bishop Tylka in welcoming remarks after he and the deacon candidates entered in a six-minute procession that also included seminarians, permanent deacons, concelebrating priests, and a Knights of Columbus Fourth Degree Honor Guard. Recalling God’s calling to the deacon candidates and their journey in response to this point, Bishop Tylka said “God willing, a year from now we’ll gather right back here and ordain them priests.”


The new deacons, who will return to the seminary for their final year of studies in the fall, have been given assignments in parishes as follows:

  • Deacon Cárdenas Morán, Immaculate Conception, Monmouth
  • Deacon Dionesotes, St. Philomena, Peoria
  • Deacon Hopper, St. Matthew, Champaign
  • Deacon Wille, St. Michael the Archangel, Streator

Background on the new deacons was given in a story published in the May 22 edition of The Catholic Post.

Prior to the Rite of Ordination, the deacon candidates stood or sat in front of their parents and family members who occupied the cathedral’s front pews. Bishop Tylka expressed gratitude to the parents — “You have given the church your sons” — as well as all who, through their witness of faith and encouragement, “have been an essential help in their discerning and responding to God’s call in their life.”

The deacon candidates were presented to Bishop Tylka by Father Patrick Henehan, diocesan vocations director for formation. Upon Bishop Tylka’s acceptance, they received sustained applause from the assembly.


During the ordination rite, the candidates made a series of promises; lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor as the Litany of the Saints was sung; knelt before the bishop as he prayed over them, laying his hands upon their heads; were vested with stole and dalmatic by priests they had chosen for that honor; were presented the Book of the Gospels; and were embraced in a greeting of peace by Bishop Tylka and the permanent deacons who were present.

Bishop Tylka lays hands on Ignacio Cárdenas Morán during the Rite of Ordination at the Mass for the Ordination of Deacons. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Portions of the Mass — including Scripture readings, the offertory hymn, and some of Bishop Tylka’s homily — were in Spanish. Deacon Cárdenas Morán is a native of Mexico. While his parents could not attend the Mass, they watched via livestream and were represented at the Mass by Jorge and Mari Martinez, the new deacon’s uncle and aunt. They and the parents of the other new deacons brought forward the gifts at the offertory.

Present in the sanctuary was Bishop Emeritus Daniel R. Jenky, CSC. At the close of Mass, Bishop Tylka acknowledged his predecessor was bishop for most of the new deacons’ years of formation.

“We are grateful you are with us here today, and you are always welcome to be with us,” he told Bishop Jenky, drawing applause as he thanked his predecessor for “your faithfulness and leadership of the diocese for many years.”


In a homily that reflected on the Gospel story of Jesus asking Peter three times “Do you love me” and also outlined the various ministries of the deacon, Bishop Tylka at times spoke gently and personally to the candidates, referring to them at least four times as “my sons.”

He called Jesus’ question of “Do you love me” a “fundamental question of discipleship.”

Patrick Wille smiles at Father Nic Wilson, who helps him vest in the stole and dalmatic during the Mass for the Ordination of Deacons. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“Your saying ‘Yes, I love you Jesus’ has opened before you many opportunities to experience God’s grace in your lives,” he told the seminarians. “This is not the first time this question has been presented to you, nor will it be the last. And today, your response is the promise of serving God’s flock as an ordained deacon.”

Among their ministries as deacons will be proclaiming and preaching the Word of God; preparing the sacrifice at the altar; distributing Communion; presiding over public prayer; administering baptism; assisting at and blessing sacramental marriages; and conducing rites associated with burying the dead.

“Furthermore, a hallmark of your life is the witness of charity,” said Bishop Tylka, adding that by living out the promise they were making, “your life will be a sign of Christ’s love, and in it you will find holiness and happiness.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Mass for the Ordination of Deacons have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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