‘Truly a servant to others’ ordained to transitional diaconate


Cardinal Robert W. McElroy ordained Sean Thomas Embury to the transitional diaconate on Dec. 2, 2023, at The Immaculata Church. (Photo by Leonardo Enrique Fonseca.)

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SAN DIEGO — “In so many forms, the grace of God’s call has come into your life powerfully, lovingly and compassionately,” Cardinal Robert W. McElroy told Sean Thomas Embury as he ordained him to the transitional diaconate at a Mass on Dec. 2.

The morning Mass was held at The Immaculata Church before family members, friends, fellow seminarians, priests and the leadership and staff of the St. Francis Center, the diocese’s house of formation of priests, also located on the University of San Diego campus.

“In the end, it is you, like Jeremiah, who must answer God’s call with the commitment of your very life,” the Cardinal said in his homily, referring to the First Reading, Jeremiah 1:4-9.

“It is an incredible grace and gift for the Church of San Diego that you stand before us today a man of talent, faith and deepest goodness of heart. Your ascent to God is not only a sign of the life of the Church, but a powerful witness to our world of prioritizing service over self.”

Ordination to the transitional diaconate marks the last major step on the path to priesthood. During the Mass, Embury promised to lead a life of prayer, celibacy, and obedience to his diocesan bishop.

The Cardinal said that, from its earliest times, the Church has called men and women to diaconal service. They serve the community, especially those who are poor and marginalized, he continued,  “that is the heart of diaconate.

“For you, the diaconate is a foundation and a prelude to a life of priesthood. But as you move toward priesthood, never abandon this identity as a deacon. The deacon is the icon of the Lord himself who sacrificed his own life so that we might know the fullness of God’s love. Therein lies the way to truest joy, Sean.

“In a particularly profound way, the diaconal reality of Christ as sacrificing servant is already emblazoned in your heart and soul. You are truly a servant to others, thoughtful, caring, attentive to the needs of others, rich in faith; the Lord will amaze you with the ways in which these talents and gifts can be magnified.

“When joined in loving service to the specific communities of faith which will be entrusted to your pastoral care, you will discover wondrous opportunities to be a palpable instrument of the grace of God.”


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