The Pontifical North American College

October 5, 2015

Diaconate Ordinations 2015

Deacon Stephen Gadberry (Little Rock) at the College Vigil, the night before the ordination of many of his classmates to the diaconate.
Deacon Stephen Gadberry (Little Rock) attends the College’s Vigil on the night before the ordination of many of his classmates to the diaconate.

In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, they were changed. On Thursday, October 1, Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, thirty-nine men from the College were conformed to Christ the servant and ordained to the diaconate at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica by Timothy Cardinal Dolan (’76, Rector ’94–‘01), Archbishop of New York. Thousands of pilgrims attended and hundreds of priests joined in concelebrating the mass — including the College faculty, a dozen bishops, and their Eminences Edwin Cardinal O’Brien (’76, Rector ’90–’94) and James Cardinal Harvey (’75). Even with so many witnesses to such a beautiful ceremony, it’s only by looking at the events of the whole week can one get a glimpse of Our Father’s providence in leading these men to this day.

At the opening family Mass on Sunday, September 27, the Rector of the College, Msgr. James Checchio (’92, C ’97), welcomed the friends, family, parish priests, vocation directors, and brother seminarians of the men to be ordained, thanking all of them for the lifelong support they’ve provided in helping the now-deacons respond to God’s call with generosity and fidelity.

Acolytes Mark Mleziva (Green Bay, '17), Grayson Heenan (Detroit, '17), and Dennis Conway (Dubuque, '17), lead the entrance procession to the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica.
Acolytes Mark Mleziva (Green Bay, ’17), Grayson Heenan (Detroit, ’17), and Dennis Conway (Dubuque, ’17), lead the entrance procession to the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In keeping with the many daily hours spent in prayer, hearing and responding to their vocation, on the day before their ordination the deacons-to-be joined their families for a vigil in the Church of the Gesù. That event was followed by another vigil with the seminary community for their last Holy Hour as laymen. During the seminary community Holy Hour, College Spiritual Director Msgr. Thomas Powers (’97), preached a homily on the promises made at ordination: celibacy, prayer, and obedience. Msgr. Powers affirmed the men’s ability to keep such promises — they will be easy the first day, but even when hard times come success is not in their control, but is rather through their childlike confidence in their Father in heaven.

Also touching upon the ordination promises and rite, Cardinal Dolan spoke in his homily at the ordination about several paradoxes of the Christian faith: “You were called forth and were said to be found worthy, and yet we began our prayer with the acknowledgment to God of our sinfulness. You come here freely and yet will make a promise of obedience to your Ordinary. You are raised to serve at the altar, yet in a moment you will lie down prostrate in a symbol of submission to the supplication of the saints on your behalf.” In making sense of all this, Cardinal Dolan presented the figure of the very saint venerated in this basilica: Saint Peter, “whose own martyrdom on a cross upside down”, as Cardinal Dolan said, “allowed him to more clearly see right side up the Jesus whose love he had come to imitate.”

The newly-ordained deacons of the Class of 2016 gather for a photo shortly after their ordination at the Altar of the Chair. In addition to ordaining prelate, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, ten bishops and two cardinals were present for the ceremony.
The deacons of the Class of 2016 gather for a photo shortly after their ordination at the Altar of the Chair.

After the ordination, everyone returned to the College to continue the celebration with a reception. Sometimes it’s best to let the pictures speak for themselves – see our small photo gallery of the Diaconate Week events.

Update (10/10/15): Read Cardinal Dolan’s homily for the Ordination here.