Three deacons to be ordained to the priesthood in June

Bishop Stephen Berg will ordain three transitional deacons to the priesthood on June 19 at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pueblo. Leading up to their ordinations, Deacons Stephen Injoalu, Isaac Kariuki and Carl Wertin were each asked to write a short narrative about themselves.

wertinCarl Wertin
I was born in Lamar, the sixth born of ten children. I always preferred being outside to being inside. In elementary school I enjoyed basketball/baseball, in middle and high school I became a skateboarder/adventure sports enthusiast, and finally, and still, I am an outdoor enthusiast with remnants of the prior two personas remaining still in me. My family taught me faith. From watching my parents pray a Hail Mary before they bought a used vehicle, to being motivated with the words, “If you don’t go to Mass tonight (Saturday) then you cannot go to Burger King afterwards.” Family rosary every Sunday afternoon, altar serving and helping with other ministries at Mass, potluck dinners, and encouragement and challenge from the priests and bishop during my youth are some of the major aspects that lead me to my vocation.

The Lord has blessed me with many experiences throughout my life. Beside playing guitar with the Spanish choir in Lamar and all the other ministries of which I had the opportunity to be a part, I have also had many other opportunities and experiences in life and in the Church that have made me who I am today. I came to have a great respect and love for all the people that I got to know during my time at these different experiences.

As ordination approaches, I’m looking forward to a break… yeah right! Seriously, I’m looking forward to being with the people of God. I know that the priesthood holds ahead of me the cross and the resurrection in many different ways, but I am excited to follow Christ in this and walk with many people as he lives and works in us, the Church. I would like the people of the Diocese of Pueblo to know how much I appreciate them. They have given me an example of what it means to follow Christ where he leads. I keep all of you in my prayers and I hope that you all know how much you have impacted my life and kept me growing in Christ.

kariukiIsaac Kariuki
My name is Isaac Mungai Kariuki, originally from the country of Kenya and from the tribe of the Agikuyu. I am from a Catholic family of four brothers and two sisters of which I am the first born. Our parents are our good living example and witness of Catholicism. Growing up in the city of Mombasa in Kenya, I mixed with people of different ethnic groups, both Christians and Muslims.

My vocation journey is a long one and it started when I was about six to seven years old. I do remember during my young age when I was an altar boy. I was very punctual in my schedule to serve the Masses. Priests vestments (especially chasubles), were the first things to attract me to the priesthood in my young age. The next thing was the chanting during Mass. At this innocent age, little did I know that a priest does many more things in priestly ministry than chanting and wearing a chasuble!

In my primary school, I initiated a group which I named, the “altar boys group” and we met every Friday evening after classes. During my high school, a group of us formed the “YCS group” meaning, the “Young Catholic Students.” At this point, my vocation was maturing and I was getting convinced that one day I will become a Catholic priest.

After my high school and still with the desire to become a priest, I was invited by the Consolata Missionaries in Kenya to attend their catechetical training college for two years. After this training, I assisted the Consolata Missionaries in their work of primary evangelization. I then started my seminary studies in Kenya and Uganda. From Uganda I proceeded to the United States where I joined St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Southern Indiana pursing a Master of Divinity degree.

My experience to this point is that God is always present among his people, he always loves his people and he is always reaching out to his people and waiting for those who are still struggling to embrace him. I look forward to being surprised by God in my priestly ministry in the vineyard of the Lord among his people; Amen and Alleluia!

injoaluStephen Injoalu
My name is Stephen Injoalu. I was born and raised in Nigeria to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel and Patricia Injoalu. I grew up as the fourth of five children, four boys and one girl.   My religious background can be traced from my early years. As a young teenager, I remember my family prayed the rosary daily. I was very involved in various activities in my parish. I was an altar server, member of a prayer group called “Block Rosary” (visited each member’s home to pray the rosary). Without walking through this passage I think my vocation may not have developed.

  When I was young, I remember “practicing” the Mass using a white sheet for my vestment and cracker biscuits and soda pop (Coke). I would talk to priests quite often, especially my pastor at that time, a military chaplain, Rev. Captain Nwoke. 

I went to a parochial high school, which also strengthened my desire to pursue the call to the priesthood and then proceeded to college seminary.

  My decision of becoming a priest was not welcomed at the beginning. My Dad and uncles, as with most African parents wanted their name and lineage to continue, which meant getting married and having kids. However, over time, through prayers and my Mom’s persistent plea, Dad eventually embraced my decision.

  My experience at the seminary was a great blessing for me! Being in such a supportive community focused on the common goal of growing in the love of Christ for the sake of future parishioners is such a wonderful gift - one that has given me a valuable experience I could never have foreseen.

  The Church of the Diocese of Pueblo is a beautiful, loving, welcoming and warm community of faith.  I am proud to call it home, and I am honored that the Lord has called me to serve these amazing people. If you, reader, have felt that perhaps God is calling you to the priesthood, do not be afraid of listening. Pray about it, and talk to your pastor, or give Rev. Michael Chrisman a call! Follow God wherever he calls you! Pax!