Cardinal to ordain deacons, priest in June


ORDINATION: Cardinal Robert W. McElroy hands the Book of the Gospels to Daniel García at his ordination to the permanent diaconate on June 18, 2022, at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Rancho Penasquitos. In early June, the cardinal will be ordaining another four permanent deacons and one new priest. (Credit: John Gastaldo)

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SAN DIEGO — The Diocese of San Diego will welcome four new permanent deacons and one new priest in June.

On June 1, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy will ordain four men to the permanent diaconate during a 10 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Grace Church in El Cajon. They are Mario Diaz, of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Chula Vista; Don Meziere, of St. Mary Parish, Escondido; Victor Villagomez, of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, San Ysidro; and Brian Wong, of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Imperial.

On June 8, the cardinal will ordain Sean Embury to the priesthood at a 10 a.m. Mass at his home parish, St. Gabriel’s in Poway.

Both ordinations will be livestreamed at

The upcoming ordination to the permanent diaconate will be the first to be held in the diocese since 2022.

Ordination to the permanent diaconate is preceded by a five-year process that includes one-year of aspirancy, a period of serious discernment, and four years of formation. No permanent deacons were ordained last year because of a leadership transition in the diocesan Office for the Permanent Diaconate five years earlier. Sister Carlotta DiLorenzo, who led the office for 20 years, retired in June of 2018; her successor, Jesuit Father Eduardo Samaniego, didn’t come on board until August of 2019.

Father Samaniego described the upcoming ordination as “a joyous occasion for the diocese.” He explained that permanent deacons’ role is “to help the pastors organize the outreach of a parish.”

“That’s exactly what Pope Francis is asking for — missionary disciples,” he said.

Father Samaniego said that the number of men entering formation for the permanent diaconate has remained “pretty steady” over the years.

Nine men were ordained in 2022. There will be six next year.

Clarissa Martinez, associate director of the Office for the Permanent Diaconate, noted that this year’s class includes two men – Diaz and Wong – for whom this is their second go-round in the formation program.

“Life circumstances prevented them from being ordained (the first time), but the calling was … still there,” she said, explaining that both had withdrawn from the program in the past only to return five years ago.

There will also be a priestly ordination in June.

According to Father Matthew Spahr, rector of the St. Francis Center for Priestly Formation, it takes an average of six years of formation to become a diocesan priest.

Embury, who will be ordained to the priesthood on June 8, was ordained to the transitional diaconate last December at The Immaculata Parish.

Ordination to the transitional diaconate marks one of the last major steps on the path to priesthood. At that time, a seminarian publicly commits himself to a life of prayer, celibacy, and obedience to the diocesan bishop.

Over the past five years, the number of men ordained as priests for the Diocese of San Diego has ranged from one (in 2019 and 2021) to four (in 2023). Depending on how many men entered the program in a given year and how many discerned that they were not called to priesthood, there are some years in which no new priests are ordained.

The diocese currently has 13 men in formation, four of whom are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood next year.

“The Rite of Ordination,” said Father Spahr, “is the culmination of years of preparation on behalf of the candidate and a joyful sign for the Church of how Christ continues to provide shepherds for His people.”

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