By Eileen Connelly, OSU 

The sense of joy and gratitude for God’s call and his abundant blessings was palpable as seven men from the Order of Friars Minor, Order of Friars Minor Conventual, and Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were ordained to the diaconate on April 6 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Little Flower in San Antonio, Texas.  

Among them was Br. Noé Alfaro Casas, OFM, who was moved to tears by the celebration and this step on his journey as a Franciscan.  

Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio Gary W. Janak presided at the liturgy, which was attended by a number of friars from the Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe, including Provincial Councilor Br. Sam Nasada, OFM, and Brothers Joseph Rozansky, OFM, Edgardo Diaz, OFM, Charlie Martinez, OFM, Lalo Jara, OFM, and Luis Manuel Rosado, OFM.  

As the joyous Mass began, Bishop Janak extended a “warm and heartfelt welcome” to all. 

“We celebrate with seven of our brothers as they enter into the service of the diaconate,” he said, noting that in the first reading from the Acts of Apostles, the elders and scribes and leaders of the people observed the boldness of Peter and John.

“We pray for that grace for our brothers: that you will be bold in living your diaconate ministry. All of us are called to that boldness in Christ, so that people will see in us Jesus.”  

A new chapter in a life of service 

As the ordination Mass approached, Br. Noé said, “I’m nervous, excited and happy. Seeing my parents and youngest brother there, my Franciscan brothers and friends, will be something special. I’m sure I’ll cry. Yes, I’m one of those. And I’ll be thankful for this step on my Franciscan journey. It will be a new chapter for me for service to others.” 

Br. Noé’s journey began in his native Mexico, where he came to know the friars in his hometown of San Miguel de Allende, in the state of Guanajuato. One of the first things that drew his attention to the friars was their habits.  

He also became very close to one of the friars, Br. Savas Nicolas, OFM, and was inspired by “all he was doing, his way of life, his dedication to giving of himself to others and his witness to God’s love for us.”  

Br. Noé especially enjoyed joining the friars in youth and prison ministry and sharing his musical talents, playing the guitar, piano and singing at liturgies.  

“Music always brings peace to my heart,” he said.  

Two Franciscan friars wearing brown robes stand next to a friar who is wearing the white vestments of a deacon. All three men are smiling.

Pictured from left are Brothers Sam Nasada, Provincial Councilor, Noé Alfaro Casas and Jose Rodriguez.

One friar helps another friar tie a cord around the white vestments he is wearing.

Brothers Charlie Martinez, left, and Edgardo Diaz help Br. Noé with his alb. (Photo courtesy of Br. Sam Nasada)

Franciscan friars wearing white vestments over their habits stand in the vestibule of a church.

Brothers Edgardo Diaz and Charlie Martinez help Br. Noé with his alb, while Brothers Lalo Jara and Luis Rosado chat in the background. (Photo courtesy of Br. Sam Nasada)

OFM and OFM Conventual friars smile for the camera as they sit in the pews of a church.

Religious from the Order of Friars Minor, Conventual Franciscans and Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate came to support their brothers. (Photo courtesy of Br. Sam Nasada)

Responding to God’s call for him, he entered the Order in 2011, admittedly much to the initial concern of his parents, Javier Alfaro and Consuelo Casas. “They were disappointed at first that I wasn’t going to get married and have children and have a ‘normal’ life,” he explained.  

“After I started the novitiate, they realized this is my call and said, ‘We love you, and if this is what you want, we’re happy.’”  

“Now they are part of my journey,” added Br. Noé, who made his temporary vows in 2014, and professed solemn vows in 2022. “They couldn’t make it to my solemn vows, but I’m very happy that they could be there for my ordination to the diaconate.”  

Saying ‘yes’ to God 

For the past several years, Br. Noé has been living with the Conventual Franciscans at San Damiano Friary in San Antonio while studying fulltime at the Oblate School of Theology and pursuing a Master of Divinity degree. He will complete his studies in December.  

Following the ordination ceremony, Br. Noé shared that “It was a deeply moving experience, punctuated by three particularly poignant moments. The first was during the procession when we reverently bowed to the altar. The second was when the bishop laid his hands on me, a moment that filled me with a comforting warmth. The third was during the litany of the saints when I was overcome with a flood of memories from my Franciscan journey, bringing me to tears. After the ordination, a few people came to me to be blessed. It was a blessing to do it, especially to bless my parents.”  

“The significance for me in being ordained to the diaconate is the focus on being a servant,” Br. Noé added. “It’s the next step on my journey to the priesthood, which will provide the opportunity to be a servant, not only through the sacraments, but as I accompany people on the journey of faith as their brother.”  

He doesn’t have a date for ordination to the priesthood, but he will be moving to Mission San Jose in San Antonio in May. He is looking forward to assisting with liturgies, giving presentations and retreats, and being involved with youth ministry.  

At the heart of all Br. Noé does will be his devotion to the Franciscan founder and fraternal life. 

“I love St. Francis,” he said. “I’m always trying to get to know him a little more in the sense of who he was and how his example is shaping me. For me, being a friar is being myself. I see the values I’ve learned from St. Francis in the friars I have met – the sense of fraternity, service and hospitality. I really admire St. Francis’ sense of detachment because it gives us the freedom from material things to able to give ourselves more freely to God and service to God’s people.”  

Br. Noé’s deep faith and love for his Franciscan vocation and journey thus far is reflected in his advice to others discerning God’s call for them: “Don’t be afraid. Say ‘yes’ to God,” he said. “Of course, there will be challenges, but you can take those as an invitation for growth.  

“When you join the friars, you are joining a family. Trust that they will help you grow and discern.”