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Looking East: One man’s journey from Roman Catholic layman to Melkite deacon

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/18/16

Detailsfrom The Catholic Free Press:

Dennis McCarthy drove by the same church each day on the way to work in Hartford. The sign read “St. Ann’s Melkite Catholic Church” and it looked like no Catholic Church Mr. McCarthy had seen before. “[I] always wondered what it was,” said Mr. McCarthy in an email interview. “One Saturday, I was driving by on the way to do some errands, and I saw the priest coming down the driveway to get his mail. I stopped and asked him what a Melkite Church was. He said if I had a few minutes, he would explain and show me the church. He did and he invited me to Liturgy the next day. I went that day and kept going!” The priest gave a generous gift of his time; the fruit of that gift was a reawakening of a vocation in Mr. McCarthy. He began attending St. Ann’s in 1995 and was ordained a deacon in 2003. Mr. McCarthy grew up Roman Catholic. He was attracted to the Melkite liturgy (called the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Church) because it reminded him of his time as an altar boy serving at the Latin Mass (especially the High Mass) – “it was something that was familiar to me – the incense, the icons. It seemed familiar although it was a completely different rite.” His wife Lisa, also Catholic, was taken aback at first as the Eastern Catholic Church is not well known to most Roman Catholics. Mr. McCarthy invited her to come to Divine Liturgy with him as she was curious about it, and she came to understand better her husband’s attraction. “It was an education process,” he said. They maintain an “East-West” home as Mrs. McCarthy has remained Roman Catholic. “A priest told me, ‘People pray in different ways, they are comfortable in different rites; there’s nothing wrong with that,’” he said.

Now, he’s preparing to be ordained a priest.

“I always felt a desire to perhaps be a priest growing up, but focused on other things. The interest was awakened after I had been a part of the St. Ann community in Waterford for a few years,” he said. The pastor at the time, Father Damon Geiger (now stationed at St. Jude Melkite Church in Miami), encouraged Mr. McCarthy to consider becoming a deacon. “I was so new I didn’t even know if you could be married and be a deacon. He’s the one who asked me and asked me to pray about it. I talked to my wife about it and decided to try it to see if it was the right thing to do, which it proved to be,” he said. When the path was opened regarding married priests, Deacon McCarthy knew it was time to pursue his vocation as a priest.

Read more.

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