VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ordaining deacons on the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Bishop Austin A. Vetter of Helena, Montana, told the men to be like them -- "not angels but true messengers of God, proclaiming with your whole selves the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
The 23 men ordained Sept. 29 in St. Peter's Basilica are preparing for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College. They come from 17 dioceses in the United States and from the Archdiocese of Sydney.
The new deacons included Steven J. Vetter of the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, and Bishop Vetter's nephew.
At the ordination Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica, Bishop Vetter thanked the 23 men for saying "yes" to God and to the church.
And he encouraged them to imitate the archangels, "with the help of St. Michael, fighting against the Evil One; with the help of St. Gabriel, being a herald of the Incarnation; and with the help of St. Raphael, bringing healing to the people of God."
Bishop Vetter also told them to "bump into Jesus."
Do not look past anyone, no matter how insignificant they appear to the world, he said. "Serve them and you will find that you are bumping into Jesus all over the place. Bump into Jesus in his people."
The bishop, who was director of spiritual formation at the North American College from 2012 to 2018, told the students he knows they have been "waiting for years for this day, so get to work."
Being ordained deacons before being ordained priests clearly underlines how "the foundation of holy orders is service," Bishop Vetter told them.