A priest and a deacon have been ordained in a unique ceremony the likes of which the local Church hasn’t seen for at least 30 years.

Father Guy Zidago and Deacon Felix Min embraced holy orders on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8 – the first time since the 1980s that a local priest and transitional deacon have done so on the same day.

“It was not by chance that God called Mary to do his will. Nor does he call us by chance,” said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, during the Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral.

“At work in every vocation is an inner awareness that the call is not of human origin or merely a human choice. Rather, it is a response to the Lord who has first chosen us.”

The cathedral was packed with supporters from local parishes as well as from as far as the Yukon, Guam, and Ivory Coast. The solemn ceremony was held in English, French, and Korean and lasted nearly three hours.

“I thank the Lord for this moment I’m living in,” Father Zidago said. “I am very much overwhelmed with joy and gladness, because I see the promise he made me at baptism being fulfilled.”

Father Guy Zidago kneeling during the ordination ceremony.

Raised in Ivory Coast, Father Zidago grew up with no Christian upbringing and serious feelings of loneliness after his parents split and left him to be raised by his grandparents. He sought the meaning of life in success, money, and relationships, and only realized what he was missing after hearing the Gospel preached at an event by the Neocatechumenal Way.

The community supported him in his search for meaning and encouraged him to make amends with his father. Thanks to their guidance, Guy was baptized a Catholic in 1998. He entered the seminary in 2007, studying in Guam and then Vancouver, where he will now serve as a priest.

Friend Robert Sorogany credits Father Zidago for bringing him to the Catholic faith.

“He never tried to change me. He has a gift of talking to people and used that to change the path I was on,” said Sorogany, who travelled from California for the ordination.

Sorogany said he was a “party man” in his teens when he met Zidago. “I used to party, I used to have fun, and he never told me: ‘Don’t party anymore. Don’t go to clubs.’ He brought me to the Word, to the Bible, to Jesus, to faith. He didn’t try to change my past.”

Now wearing a golden crucifix around his neck and waiting at the back of the cathedral for his turn to congratulate his longtime friend, Sorogany said Zidago’s approach helped him realize the importance of faith.

“If he wants to tell me something is wrong, he doesn’t lecture. He just says: ‘I don’t think it’s good. It’s up to you to make a choice.’”

Family and friends of Father Guy Zidago from the Ivory Coast, Guam, and California at the celebration.

Sorogany also emphasized the importance of praying for priests. “He needs it. Some people might persecute him. Sometimes, with temptation, evil tries to destroy the faith that brought him to this path. We have to pray for him, so he can continue to pray for us, so we can go to heaven together.”

Father Zidago’s father, brother, and members of the Neocatechumenal Way travelled from Ivory Coast for the occasion.

“Guy is a direct person. He does what God tells him to do. He is very open-minded and truthful in his words,” father Jonas Zidago said in French. “I am happy. Guy has been patient with me.”

Eugene Brou was thrilled the Neocatechumenal Way gained a new priest.

“He is like a son to me,” he said. “This situation that God has blessed us with, I could not miss it. I promised Guy that I would come to his ordination, and God put everything together. Now I am here. Blessed be God.”

Father Guy Zidago will begin his service as a priest at St. Patrick’s Parish in Vancouver.

Deacon Felix Min in prayer before his ordination.

Meanwhile, Deacon Min is looking forward to his turn to become a priest. His ordination as a transitional deacon Dec. 8 brought him one big step closer to making that a reality.

“During the ordination, as I was standing on the carpet, I thought to myself: ‘This is what it must feel like getting married,’” he joked. “I felt very nervous, and at the same time such joy that God has called me.”

Deacon Min is continuing his seminary studies and could be ordained by the end of 2019. The B.C. Catholic will have more coverage of Deacon Min in an upcoming issue.