Configured to Christ
Four deacons will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New Orleans June 7 at 10 a.m. at St. Louis Cathedral. Archbishop Gregory Aymond will ordain, from left, Deacon Matthew Johnston, Deacon Timothy Hedrick, Deacon Charles Dussouy and Deacon Ian Bozant.
The June 7 Ordination Mass will be live-streamed at www.arch-no.org
Deacon Ian M. Bozant
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: Mary Queen of Peace, Mandeville, effective July 2
First Mass: June 8, 2 p.m., Our Lady of Lourdes, Slidell
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 15, 9:30 a.m., St. Patrick, New Orleans; June 22, 10 a.m., St. Clement of Rome
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “Celebrating the sacraments, especially Mass and confession. They are unique to a priest and they are the most intimate encounter man can have with God – consume his body and soul and receive his mercy.”
A need for God’s presence
By Christine Bordelon
When transitional Deacon Ian M. Bozant is ordained a priest on June 7 at St. Louis Cathedral, he will fulfill a destiny he found hard to imagine when he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary College in August 2008.
“It seemed so far away, but now I am only weeks away from ordination, and it seems like it all flew by, but every moment has been important and invaluable in forming me and teaching me what it means to be priest for the church as a whole and for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.”
During his time of preparation and study, he learned that the seminary is more than classes on theology, Scripture and learning to celebrate the sacraments. He discovered himself and a strengthened faith through the seminary’s practice of self-reflection and experienced the need for God’s presence.
“I never expected the multi-faceted aspect of this whole process,” Deacon Bozant said. “It is more than simply academic – it is about forming the whole person so that all of me can be given in service to God and his church.”
Because he came from an analytical science and math background at Villanova University, he initially struggled with the more abstract and critical way of thinking required for philosophy and theology. But, he said the truths he was taught helped him “encounter the person behind these truths – our Lord himself” and “to discover the need for a balanced life that really places all of myself – my intellect, my heart, my desires – at the service of the church and the faithful.”
Through practical experience during his diaconate internship at St. Clement of Rome, Deacon Bozant’s acquired a skill as a homilist, one he will continue to nurture.
“There is always room for growth and improvement, and the priest’s life is no different,” he said. “Particularly, I hope to grow more in preaching. If we are honest, that is the main point of encounter between the priest and the people and, if I can continue improving in that area, that encounter will also improve and will hopefully invite others a little more deeply into the Church and Gospel message.”
He also witnessed Father Luis Rodriguez’s pastoral care for his flock, something Deacon Bozant said he will carry into his priestly ministry.
“He really knew his parishioners because he took the time to get to know them and, as a result, the faithful there really saw the priest as a vital part of their lives,” he said.
His first sermon as a deacon was at his home parish in Our Lady of Lourdes in Slidell. His first priestly sermon also will be there at a Mass of Thanksgiving June 8 at 2 p.m.
Deacon Bozant said joyful priests sparked his vocation. He hopes his own zeal and desire to serve the faithful as they “encounter the Lord in their lives and through the sacraments” will be ignite a religious vocation in others.
“I sincerely look forward to serving as a priest in the Archdiocese of New Orleans and hope that the faithful will continue to pray for me and my newly ordained brothers as we begin this sacred journey,” he said.
Deacon Charles W. Dussouy
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Edward the Confessor, Metairie, effective July 2
First Mass: June 8, 10:30 a.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Kenner
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 15, 11:45 a.m., St. Joan of Arc, LaPlace
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “Just being a priest. Everything, basically. I’ve been doing this studying for six years. What I am most looking forward to is really having an influence on the youth and getting involved in whatever I can to help them out.”
‘Felt like I was home’
By Peter Finney Jr.
There are some experiences that seem to confirm a major life decision, and for Deacon Charles W. Dussouy, spending the last year as a transitional deacon at St. Joan of Arc Parish in LaPlace and as a seminarian at Notre Dame Seminary reaffirmed his life’s purpose.
“After the five years of formation and then being in a parish, I felt like I was at home and I felt like this was God’s will for me to be there,” said Deacon Dussouy, who will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Gregory Aymond June 7 at St. Louis Cathedral. “That’s what God has been training me for for the last four or five years. It was the culmination of my discernment. I finally got to see what I was going to experience (as a priest), and I very much enjoyed it.”
One of the highlights of being an ordained deacon is to have the authority to preach at Mass, and Deacon Dussouy said that experience was fulfilling.
“It’s one of the things I’m pretty good at – not to pat myself on the back,” said Deacon Dussouy, a 2002 graduate of Archbishop Rummel High School. “I really loved it because Scripture is one of my favorite things to study, so preaching also came naturally because of my love of the Scriptures.”
Deacon Dussouy brought his family into his diaconate year. Last July – about a month after he was ordained a transitional deacon – he witnessed the marriage vows of his brother Ashton and his fiancé Tori. He also gave the homily at their wedding.
“I very much enjoyed it,” Deacon Dussouy said. “I think it went OK because after the wedding she came up to me and thanked me for all my help in keeping her calm.”
The intense emotion he felt at his brother’s wedding was matched, in a different way, when he did a funeral for a St. Joan of Arc parishioner.
“It definitely made me understand that I can get nervous,” Deacon Dussouy said. “It helped to meet with the family before hand and even after the liturgy. That is a big part of the healing that takes place – meeting before and after.”
One of the favorite parts of his ministry was spending nearly every Friday at St. Charles Catholic High School, where he ate with and talked to students of all ages.
“Those kids had a huge impact on me,” he said. “I realized when I came back to the seminary how much I missed ministering to them. I would just go over there to hang out. I would teach a few things. A lot of times I would go to football games and sit around and eat lunch with them.
“They would tell me, ‘Oh, you’re so young.’ You know high schoolers – they always have very pointed questions. They’d ask, ‘Why did you want to become a priest? Are you sure you didn’t want a wife and kids?’ I would basically tell them, ‘You’re going to be my kids. They call priests “father” for a reason.’”
Deacon Timothy D. Hedrick
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Catherine of Siena, Metairie, effective July 2
First Mass: June 8, 11 a.m., St. Philip Neri Church, Metairie
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 15, 10:30 a.m., St. Pius X, New Orleans
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “Celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation.”
‘One huge family’
By Beth Donze
Deacon Timothy D. Hedrick recalls casting aside a lingering barrier that stood between him and a vocation to the priesthood: the fear that he would be “alone and lonely” as a parish priest.
In his early 20s, during a two-year tenure as youth minister at St. Thomas More Church in Baton Rouge, he discovered the reality was quite the opposite.
“My job was to get the kids involved in church, and as I did that, their families welcomed me into their families; I would go watch football games at their house; they would take me out to eat,” said Deacon Hedrick, 32. “I realized that I could be happy and fulfilled as a priest, because if I did my job, I wouldn’t be alone. I’d have one huge family.”
Raised in St. Philip Neri Parish as the youngest of three children, Deacon Hedrick’s vocational seeds began to sprout at Archbishop Rummel High School. He became more involved in his faith through his religion teacher, Beau Charbonnet, who went on to be a priest.
“He’s the one who taught me how to develop a personal relationship with the Lord, as opposed to just going to church on Sundays – how to pray with the Scriptures, the importance of eucharistic adoration,” said Deacon Hedrick, who became a daily congregant at the 6:55 a.m. Mass in Rummel’s chapel.
Another mentor was Jesuit Father Wayne Roca, Rummel’s chaplain. The priest died during Hedrick’s senior year, but not before he asked the teenager to be a reader at his funeral.
“At his funeral, Archbishop (Francis) Schulte left Father Roca’s chalice on the altar and asked, ‘Who’s going to take it up?’” Deacon Hedrick said. “Forty or 50 guys stood up, and I was one of those guys.”
Deacon Hedrick’s faith thrived at LSU, where he was involved at the campus parish of Christ the King as a reader, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, guitar player and member of the parish council and retreat team. As he neared completion of his degree in business and computing, Deacon Hedrick turned down a lucrative job offer in the field of IT.
“I realized that while it would have paid very well, I wouldn’t have been happy,” he said. “I felt God calling me to be a youth minister, to be a beacon of hope – the same way Beau Charbonnet was to me in high school.”
After two more years as a campus minister and religion teacher at Baton Rouge’s Redemptorist High, he entered St. Joseph Seminary College, originally intending to become a priest for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. Prayerful discernment led him to change course and serve his native Archdiocese of New Orleans.
Deacon Hedrick said he is continually inspired by the story of the Prodigal Son.
“The Father is always there looking for us, and then, as soon as we turn to him, he runs to us,” he said. “I was born and raised Catholic and went to church on Sunday, but when I decided to live my faith because I wanted to – not because my parents had raised me Catholic – there was the father, running to welcome me.”
Deacon Matthew D. Johnston
First Assignment as Parochial Vicar: St. Clement of Rome, Metairie, effective July 2
First Mass: June 8, noon, Our Lady of the Lake Church, Mandeville
Other Masses of Thanksgiving: June 15, 5 p.m., and June 16, 8 and 10:30 a.m., Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Belle Chasse
What are you most looking forward to in your priestly ministry? “Being a distributor of God’s mercy. If God showed it to me, I’d betterbe able to show it to others.”
Sharing God’s word
By Peter Finney Jr.
Deacon Matthew D. Johnston said one of the greatest gifts he has received in his nearly one year as as a transitional deacon has been the chance to minister closely to people in both challenging and joyful times.
When Deacon Johnston is ordained to the priesthood June 7 by Archbishop Gregory Aymond, he hopes to use the grace of holy orders to an even greater extent.
“I think the biggest thing will be making that transition from learning what it means (to be a priest) to truly functioning as ‘father,’” Deacon Johnston said. “I think one of the biggest gifts of priesthood is being invited into people’s lives and getting to walk with them and also getting a
real sense of entering into a familiar understanding of what a parish is.”
During his year as a deacon, he has found preaching to be “wonderful and daunting” because he knows explaining the Scriptures is a serious responsibility.
“For most people, the only experience of regular catechesis is your homily,” Deacon Johnston said. “That puts a lot of pressure on you – in a good way. It’s not just you going up there and ranting. You want to help people encounter Christ in the Scriptures. I try to translate it in a way in which the people desire to hear it and get excited hearing it, but at the same time not compromising the depth and the deep theological meaning of it.”
During his deacon internship at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Belle Chasse, Deacon Johnston took the lead on one funeral, which meant meeting with the family and discussing the preparations for the funeral Mass. He also preached the homily.
“That was very impactful for me,” Deacon Johnston said. “It was incredibly humbling just making myself available. People are amazing. They’re not there to see me but to encounter Christ. It’s a challenge, and one that I’m probably going to fail at many times.”
After ordination, he will serve as a parochial vicar at St. Clement of Rome Parish in Metairie. In 2011, Deacon Johnston was commissioned as a chaplain’s candidate in the Army Reserves. Serving as a full-time military chaplain may be in his future.
“After a minimum of three years (as a priest), I could discern with the archbishop what the needs of the archdiocese are and the needs of the military are and then possibly go on active duty,” Deacon Johnston said. “At least for now, I’ll be a reservist, which means once a month, going to a base.”
Deacon Johnston spent the days leading up to his ordination at a scheduled deacons’ retreat and then traveled to Hanceville, Ala., to visit the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament before going camping in the Smoky Mountains for a few days.
“That’s kind of my chance to have some quiet and transition before I hit the ground running,” he said.
For those who might be considering a religious vocation, Deacon Johnston said: “Don’t ever be afraid to say ‘yes’ because God will take care of you and walk with you every step of the way.”