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Ordination update: 11 new deacons for Washington

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 06/25/17

The snapshot here shows the newest deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington, ordained yesterday by Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

The press release: 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, ordained eleven men as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington at a Mass of Ordination today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The new deacons come from a variety of backgrounds, and include several who have retired from the armed forces, a medicinal chemist for the National Institutes of Health, a middle school religion teacher, and two employees of the United States Postal Service.

The men completed almost five years of theological study and prayer in preparation for ordination. Deacons in the Catholic Church are ordained for a ministry that reflects three aspects: Word, Sacrament, and Charity. The new deacons will now receive from Cardinal Wuerl a parish assignment and an assignment to a particular ministry of charity or social justice in the archdiocese. In their ministry, they will proclaim the Gospel, preach, lead the faithful in prayer, baptize, distribute the Eucharist, witness marriages, preside at funerals, and assist those in need. The permanent diaconate is an ancient role in the Catholic Church which fell out of use after the fifth century, but was restored in the late 1960s after the Second Vatican Council.

“How appropriate are these reflections since the Church Universal is in the wake of two synods celebrating marriage, the challenges it faces and the beautiful reality it is, and, at the same time, is preparing for a synod on young people in the Church,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. “Your ordination to the ministry of service recognizes in your own life the blessing of marriage and the challenge of introducing young people to the Gospel. Your service now will be directed to an even wider family – the Church.”

The cardinal reflected on Pope Francis’ visit to Washington in 2015 and the Mass of Canonization for Junípero Serra on the East Portico of the basilica. Calling Saint Junípero Serra a model of service, the cardinal spoke of how the Holy Father has highlighted the urgency in the Church today to reach out to those who have drifted away from the practice of the faith. “This ordination is also taking place in an age of renewed focus on our Catholic identity and in a culture that questions it – even challenges it. How appropriate that this ordination would take place on the Solemnity of John the Baptist, who was both a herald of the Good News and a witness – one who offered his life – to the truth of the Gospel.” 

“Our Catholic identity, even when challenged, should remain for us a source of conviction and pride,” said the cardinal. “We recognize that as we open ourselves to life in the Spirit radiating fully Christ’s love and truth we can also bring joy to a world that so desperately needs God.” Just as the first deacons of the Church possessed a generosity of heart and a love of Christ and his Church which allowed them to work gladly and willingly with the Apostles, the same willingness to serve – openness to the Lord – are present in the men who have prepared for their ordination today, the cardinal said. He encouraged them to carry out their ministry in joy and to be eager to serve, “May you always carry in your heart the zeal of this ordination in which, in a very special way, you become one with Christ.”

“May the Holy Spirit who consecrates all the baptized, and who has further blessed you who are to be ordained deacons, continue to inspire you to service, enrich your liturgical ministry, deepen your life of faith and help you as you, through your ministry, do whatever it takes to build up the whole Body of Christ,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily.

After the homily, during the ordination rite, the men made a promise of obedience to the archbishop and to his successors, and received a stole, worn over the left shoulder to symbolize that the right arm is always free to help others; a vestment called a dalmatic; and the book of the Gospels, a sign that they are to proclaim the word of God. Deacons may be married when ordained but those who are not married take a vow of celibacy.

Read on for biographies of the new deacons. I’m heartened to see that one of them hails from St. Mary of the Mills, across from my alma mater, St. Vincent Pallotti High School, and another is from St. Mary’s in Rockville, where I was married.

Congratulations, brothers, and welcome!

Ad multos annos!

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