Four ordained as transitional deacons

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel stands with newly ordained Deacons Nick Biever, far left, Clint Johnson, Aaron Herrenbruck and Keith Hart after their April 20 Ordination Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

For a video from the Ordination, click here

By John Rohlf

The Message Assistant Editor

Four Diocese of Evansville seminarians were ordained as deacons last weekend, taking one step closer to being ordained as diocesan priests. 

Bishop Joseph M. Siegel ordained seminarians Nick Biever, Keith Hart, Aaron Herrenbruck and Clint Johnson as deacons during an April 20 Mass at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.

All four transitional deacons attend St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad. They are expected to be ordained to the priesthood in 2025.

Deacon Biever is a son of Annunciation Parish in Evansville, Deacon Hart is a son of St. Peter Parish in Montgomery, Deacon Herrenbruck is a son of St. Clement Parish in Boonville and Deacon Johnson is a son of Holy Cross Parish in Fort Branch. 

More than 40 priests concelebrated the Mass, with over 25 deacons in attendance. The priest concelebrants were priests of the diocese and friends of the newly ordained. Family members, friends and members of the diocesan community also helped fill St. Benedict Cathedral for the Ordination Mass.

Father Chris Forler, Father Garrett Braun, Larry Durchholz and Matt Miller were masters of ceremony. The acolytes and servers were diocesan seminarians.

Nick, left, Keith, Aaron and Clint prostrate themselves during the Litany of Supplication. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

At the conclusion of the Gospel, Father Tyler Tenbarge, Director of Vocations for the diocese, presented all four seminiarians to Bishop Siegel for election. After the homily, Bishop Siegel ordained all four seminarians as deacons.

“It’s been over four years but still, it’s been just unbelievable how it’s all come together,” Deacon Herrenbruck said. “All the blessings God has given me through all the different pastors and role models and inspirations to really be here and love Him and get to be able to be a man of service. And I get to carry this for the rest of my life and beyond. So I’m beyond blessed.” 

During his homily, Bishop Siegel said ordinations are always a great joy for a bishop, especially last weekend as he ordained four diocesan seminarians as transitional deacons. He said providentially, they were there to celebrate the diaconate ordination of all four men on the eve of Good Shepherd Sunday, which was April 21. It is the heart of the Good Shepherd, which is the essence of the call of Deacons Biever, Hart, Herrenbruck and Johnson to the diaconate ministry. 

Bishop Siegel stressed many people helped all four transitional deacons get to the point of being ordained one year before their scheduled ordination as diocesan priests. He said parents, family and friends; the formation teams; priests in the diocese’s vocations office; their own pastors, internship pastors and other clergy; fellow seminarians and parishioners of their home parishes all played a role in helping the four transitional deacons get to this point. Bishop Siegel asked everyone to pray intensely for all four men that in the power of the Holy Spirit, they may take this step with loving trust and relying on the unfailing help of God. 

Bishop Siegel stressed all four transitional deacons presented themselves for service to the Lord and to the Church as deacons, fully aware that this is no ordinary time in the life of the Church. In so many ways, the Church and her mission are facing extraordinary challenges, Bishop Siegel said. 

Bishop Siegel stressed to the four men the impact one encounter with clergy can have on an individual. It can take one encounter for someone alienated from the Lord and the Church to be welcomed back or to be pushed away, Bishop Siegel said. He stressed on their own, they cannot bear such responsibility. This is why, he said, each day they must encounter the living God in many ways, including in prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours, by hearing the voice of Christ in the Psalms, by spending time each day in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord and by faithfully receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation and spiritual direction. 

After they were ordained, the transitional deacons were vested by current deacons. Deacon Biever was vested by Deacon Charlie Koressel, Deacon Hart was vested by Deacon Kevin Bach, Deacon Herrenbruck was vested by Deacon Tom Lambert and Deacon Johnson was vested by Deacon Joe Siewers. 

“We all get to be together as a church and we get to celebrate the Eucharist together,” Deacon Herrenbruck said. “So that was a really beautiful moment I got to spend with my brothers who I’m ordained with. But also my brother deacons who I’m entering into diaconate with as well as all the priests and all the people who were able to come and be with us.”

At the end of his homily, Bishop Siegel entrusted all four men to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church and our Patroness. He said as they grow in their devotion to her, she will pray with and for them, while watching over and protecting them, that they may embrace and live the diakonia with reverence, joy and generosity as they continue towards their priestly ordination in the year ahead. He encouraged them to be good servants after the heart of the Lord Jesus, the good shepherd, so that on the last day when they go out to meet the Lord, they will be able to hear him say well, done, you good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord. 

A reception immediately followed Mass in St. Benedict School’s cafeteria.

Priests and deacons of the Diocese of Evansville congratulate newly ordained Deacons Nick Biever, Keith Hart, Aaron Herrenbruck and Clint Johnson facing Bishop Siegel in this photo, following their April 20 Ordination Mass. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher