Seven ordained permanent deacons

BROCKTON -- As she watched her dad, Brian Francis Shea, be ordained a permanent deacon during a Mass at St. Edith Stein Church in Brockton, Sept. 30, Julie Shea cried in the pews.

He's been waiting to do this probably since he was 30 or so," she told The Pilot following the Mass. "He wanted to wait until all of the kids grew up, out of college, maybe have a job, so he could do something for himself."

"We're all very proud.... It was a great day," she said.

Deacon Shea was ordained alongside Deacons Alan Joseph Doty, Van Vuong Nguyen, Carlos Alberto DeSousa, Cleyton F. Moreira, Elcio Ferreira dos Santos Jr., and Charles Michael Landry Jr. during the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley.

The deacon, from the Greek word "diakonos," meaning servant or minister, is the first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church. Among the many functions they perform in parishes, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings, and rites of Christian burial, as well as aid the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel, and deliver homilies. In addition to a parish assignment, each of the new deacons will also assist in one of the ministries of the archdiocese.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley commented on the fact that seven deacons were to be ordained that day, noting that the deacons in the New Testament are referred to as "the seven."

The seven ordinandi were "not the seven dwarves," he joked, "but the magnificent seven, the seven wonders of the world! The lucky seven."

"Seven good men called for service and for mission," he continued.

As the first deacons were, the seven candidates come from culturally diverse backgrounds, he said.

"We're blessed by having candidates who represent so many of our ethnic communities that enrich our Church," said the cardinal.

He spoke of the beauty of the blessing the deacon receives from the celebrant before proclaiming the Gospel. It is recited in Latin, and asks that the Lord be in the deacon's heart and lips so he may worthily and competently proclaim the Gospel.

Speaking to the candidates, the cardinal said "Your worthiness depends on your own ongoing conversion and fidelity to grace."

"Your life, as the Gospel says, is to bear fruit that will remain. Fruits you will produce will be an advertisement for the Gospel and make you worthy to announce the Gospel," he continued.

To competently proclaim the Gospel, "don't bore people to death. Show them the beauty of Christ's Gospel and show them that you love them, that you are a friend, ready to lay down your life for them."

The faithful, he said, will "only hear those who love them... Only love is convincing, only holiness is convincing."

Mercy, too, must be shown, he continued, as "preaching of the word needs to be confirmed by works of mercy."

"Your task is to help promote a culture of mercy in our faith communities," he said. "Have a special love for the poor and the sick, be a friend of immigrants, strangers, and prisoners."

Beginning during the Liturgy of the Word, the candidates were presented to Cardinal O'Malley after the Gospel reading, at which point he elected them for ordination. Then, after the cardinal's homily, the men filed onto the altar, where they approached the cardinal and pledged obedience to him and his successors. They then lay prostrate around the altar, as the assembly, invoking the names of saints, prayed for them.

The ordinations were completed after the cardinal laid his hands upon the deacons' heads in an act that bestows the Holy Spirit and spoke the prayer of consecration. Following this, the men's wives presented a stole and a dalmatic -- the vestments of the deacon -- to a priest or a deacon who vested their husbands. The new deacons were then each presented with the Book of the Gospels by the cardinal, after which the Rite of Ordination was concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace given by Cardinal O'Malley and all the permanent deacons present.

Following the Mass, the newly ordained deacons received congratulations from friends and families.

"Today is one of the most important days of my life," said Deacon DeSousa, speaking to The Pilot in between greeting loved ones.

"Saying 'Yes' to Christ, it's something that is deep in my heart. I pray that every day, whatever Christ asks for me, I will be open as Mary was open to say 'Yes' to God," he said.

Asked when he knew he wanted to become a permanent deacon, Deacon DeSousa said he "felt a call from God," at a young age, but was unsure what God was trying to tell him.

It wasn't until he was watching a CatholicTV program on the diaconate with his wife that he knew what God was trying to say.

On the couch, she turned and looked at me, and said "What are you waiting for?" said Deacon DeSousa. "And, here I am today!"