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Audio Bishop Fisher Features Ministry

Diocese ordains Juan Sebastian Aristizabal as a transitional deacon


The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo will welcome more than a half dozen new deacons to its ranks this spring. The first received the Sacrament of Holy Orders during a special Mass at St. Mark Church in Buffalo, Saturday, May 13.

Deacon Miguel Santos (right) congratulates the recently ordained Deacon Juan Sebastian Aristizabal (center) as Bishop Michael W. Fisher listens in. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

Juan Sebastian Aristizabal was ordained as a transitional deacon, meaning his path in religious life continues with the goal of eventually becoming a priest. Bishop Michael W. Fisher expressed hope during the ordination that Deacon Aristizabal would achieve that as early as next year.

“Sebastian’s presence here is an indicator that God cares for His holy people,” said Bishop Fisher during the Mass. “This is an important day for the Buffalo Diocese and his family.”

His brother and his family were in attendance, while his parents were watching the celebration at home in Colombia.

Following the Mass, a reception was held next door inside St. Mark School. Before walking to that reception, Deacon Aristizabal spoke with WNY Catholic about his path toward religious life. As he explained it, he heard the call at a young age.

“I received a priest’s call when I was a kid,” he said. “I was an altar server for so many years in my home parish in Colombia. I went on to the highest school seminary in Colombia. I was in a religious order for nine years, with the Franciscans.”

He further explained that when his brother moved to the United States, he decided it was time to follow so he could continue on a path toward priesthood. It was the Diocese of Buffalo, he said, which helped him on that path.

“You are being ordained in an incredibly challenging time, and I thank you for saying yes, especially as our diocese and our Church are engaged in a time of healing and renewal,” Bishop Fisher said to the new deacon. “Your presence here is a testimony again of God’s answer to the prayers of our people.”

With the laying on of hands and a blessing, Bishop Michael W. Fisher ordains Juan Sebastian Aristizabal (kneeling) as transitional deacon. Father Sean Paul Fleming and Deacon Jeffrey Donovan assist. Deacon Donovan will ordained to the priesthood next month. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

Deacon Aristizabal has been assigned to Parish Family 3, in Chautauqua County. The parishes making up that family are St. Anthony and St. Joseph in Fredonia; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Silver Creek; and Blessed Mary Angela, Holy Trinity, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Dunkirk.

His job, in his words, is to illuminate the people.

“I think the first thing is we have to do is do everything with true love,” he answered.

Another ordination is scheduled for Saturday, May 20, during which seven men will become permanent deacons.

Click to listen to Michael Mroziak’s audio report.