Diaconate Ordination 2017

On a beautiful Thursday morning in September, on the feast of St. Wenceslaus, thirty-one men were ordained to the transitional deaconate at the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. They came together three years ago from many different backgrounds. Some attended college seminary, some entered formation after college, and some were called later in life’s journey after spending time in a career. They represent dioceses crossing the United States and Australia, and bring with them the culture of their homes. This group of men, diverse in background and culture, were the same on this day. They stood as a class with a single desire among them; to be ordained to the transitional diaconate that they may serve the Church and her people for the remainder of their lives.

Ordination week began the Sunday prior with a family Mass and continued through the week with tours of Rome and the Vatican, including the Vatican museum, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and a Scavi tour ending at the bones of Saint Peter. On Wednesday night, the eve of the ordination, seminarians and their families attended separate vigils to watch and pray one last time before the men laid down their lives as deacons.

The next morning was filled with anticipation. Saint Peter’s gradually filled, final preparations were made, and the procession began. Over the course of the beautiful liturgy, the men promised a life of celibacy, prayer, and obedience.

Bishop James Checchio processes towards the Altar of the Chair.

The presiding bishop held a special place in the lives of these new deacons.  His Excellency Bishop James F. Checchio of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, was Rector of the College during much of their formation and now returned to ordain them as clerics.

In his homily, Bishop Checchio urged the men to be good shepherds. He used the example of Blessed Stanley Rother, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.” Blessed Stanley Rother was a missionary in Guatemala who had returned to the United States as violence in the country was increasing, including against priests. Though he knew it was dangerous, Rother insisted upon returning to Guatemala, refusing to abandon his flock. There, he met his death. This fall, Blessed Stanley became the first American-born martyr to be beatified. Bishop Checchio told the deacons not only of the importance of a compassionate heart and desire to serve, but of the need to remain with the flock they serve, no matter the cost.

Following the ordination, the new deacons joined their loved ones at the College for a reception.

After the rite of ordination the new deacons carry the offerings to prepare the altar for the Holy Sacrifice.