On June 8 Anchorage Archbishop Paul Etienne will ordain seminarian Kevin Klump to the transitional diaconate, the last step before being ordained to the priesthood. The upcoming ordination will be at Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral in Anchorage.
Klump’s ordination promises to be a family affair, with parents, siblings, goddaughter and maternal grandparents planning to attend — and his brother and sister-in-law assisting in the choir. Klump also has an uncle, Father Greg Klump, who is a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, though he will not be able to attend until Klump’s planned priestly ordination in 2019.
The Catechism teaches that the diaconate is “at a lower level of the hierarchy,” and that diaconal candidates “receive an imposition of hands not unto priesthood, but unto the ministry.” Yet Klump insists that the title of transitional deacon is “not just stopping in before moving to something ‘more glorious.’ It is its own proper ministry.”
“Though not in the person of Christ the head, I will be ministering in the person of the church, the body. As a deacon, I will be able to witness marriages, perform baptisms, and preach at Masses.”
POINT OF NO RETURN
Ordination to the diaconate is a certain “point of no return, a permanent gift of self to Christ and his church” Klump observed.
“I will be making promises to pray for the church and the world, principally through the five canonical hours in the Liturgy of the Hours,” he said. “I will also be making a promise of celibacy, obedience and respect to the local ordinary and his successors.”
Klump described the year leading up to diaconal ordination as one of “extraordinary grace.” Along with other candidates at St. Paul Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, Klump embarked on traditional apostolic works, such as washing the feet of the homeless in the Twin Cities.
“It was very humbling and you feel a new appreciation of what Christ has done for you,” he reflected. “There is a painting by Francesco Ribalta in which Jesus crucified is bending down to bring Saint Bernard of Clairvaux up to the cross. Just so, Christ bends down at every ordination and brings the man up to the cross, to which he could not go on his own.”
“The diaconate is a concrete manifestation of the heart of Jesus, who came to serve, not to be served,” Klump continued. “The diaconate is, perhaps, best characterized by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, where his crushed heart lifted up prayers to the Father on behalf of the church. So it’s very appropriate to be ordained on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.”
After his ordination this summer, Klump will have two as-yet-unspecified diaconal assignments in the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
“I am looking forward to reacquainting myself with the archdiocese,” he said. “I’ve been in school for eight years and a lot has changed. I will be getting to know how Alaska works again.”
In September, he will return for his final year of seminary studies in St. Paul. The last year is more practicum-style courses: family counseling, confessions, and practicing how to celebrate liturgies.
Although fellow seminarian Jake Brownlee will be off to major seminary at Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon this fall, Ed Burke of Kenai will return with Klump to St. Paul to continue his studies at minor seminary.
Following a year as transitional deacon, Klump is scheduled to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Anchorage in 2019 – the fourth priest in eight years, following Father Patrick Brosamer (2013), Father Arthur Roraff (2015), and Father Robert Whitney (2017).
“If all goes according to plan, I will be ordained on June 28, 2019, the Feast of the Sacred Heart,” Klump said.
Pope Francis has famously called the church to preach the Gospel in the “peripheries” of society, and Klump looks forward to following suit. But comparing himself to some of his heroes, Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Vincent Ferrer, Klump noted that he has his work cut out for him.
“Saint Francis de Sales was 27 when he was ordained to the priesthood – and I will be the same age,” he noted. “In his first four years of priesthood in Switzerland, he had 70,000 converts to the Catholic Church. And Saint Vincent Ferrer had 200,000. That’s some stiff competition!”
Klump said the foundation of his religious vocation is the Christian marriage of his parents, Phil and Maureen Klump.
“A child’s first experience of God is the love between dad and mom,” he said. “The love that God pours into Christian marriage is phenomenal — if couples are open to it. I saw my parents embracing self-sacrifice growing up, and it is tangibly different when that is not present in a marriage. Without their example, it would have been hard for me to accept my vocation.”
He added: “I am excited to serve in my home state of Alaska, and to be a witness of the consolation of Jesus.”