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Diaconate Ordination

I attended the ordination in Rochester of nine men to the diaconate today; eight as permanent deacons and one as a transitional diaconate.  It is always a moving event.  This year I knew three of the men.  One from the parish where I served on my pastoral year, one from the parish where I am currently serving, and one from a neighboring parish that I know through hospital ministry.  I see the three of them all as men who seek not a seat of honor for themselves but rather as men who have truly been called by God to serve as ordained ministers.

I think back to just four years ago as I prepared for my own ordination as a transitional diaconate.  But first, perhaps I should take a minute to explain the difference (and similarities) between permanent and transitional deacons.  Permanent deacons are men who are ordained to serve as deacons with no further plans for ordinations.  They are generally married but if they are not (as was the case with one today) they make a promise of celibacy.  A transitional deacon is a man who is ordained as a deacon with the expectation of being ordained to the priesthood (generally within a year’s time).  Since they expect to be ordained priests they are single men (with rare exception as was today) who make a promise of celibacy.

That is the extent of the difference.  Permanent deacons and transitional deacons can do the same things.  They can perform baptisms, preside at marriages (outside of Mass), and assist at the celebration of Mass (including preaching).  Most deacons are assigned to parish work on a “voluntary” part-time basis.  There are deacons who are active in hospital ministry, prison ministry, and work at agencies such as Catholic Charities.  In the parish, deacons may assist in any of the ministries of the parish.

Now, let me return to my mention of my own ordination as a deacon four years ago.  It was a powerful and grace-filled day in my life.  I had been in formation for six years preparing for ordination.  Six months ahead of the ordination I felt ready and eager to be ordained.  In the final couple of weeks, while I did not doubt my calling to be ordained, I did become very humbled by the thought of being ordained.  I became all the more aware that this was not about me but about serving God and his people.  At the ordination, I knew God’s power and grace.  I can’t explain how but I truly felt I was changed by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Pray for the men ordained today, to be humble servants of God guided and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  They are Mark Bovenzi, Patrick DiLaura, Peter Dohr, Joseph Erway, Paul Sartori, Raymand Garbach, Lon Smith, Thomas Uschold, and Scott Caton. 

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

One Comment

  1. John says:

    Ah yes, a couple familiar names in that list!

    “Permanent deacons are men who are ordained to serve as deacons with no further plans for ordinations. “

    Although quite rare, it is possible, with the permission of the diocesan bishop, for a permanent deacon who is single or widowed to proceed to the ordained priesthood.

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