Cardinal ordains seven transitional deacons

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BOSTON -- In one of the last steps in their preparation for the priesthood, seven men were ordained transitional deacons on June 8 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. They will serve as transitional deacons for one year before being ordained priests.

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 assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel, deliver homilies, and preside at baptisms, weddings, and rites of Christian burial.

Ordained during the Mass were Deacons Erick Gonzalez, Joseph Hubbard, Matthew Norwood, Fernando J. Vivas, and Daniel Zinger for the Archdiocese of Boston; Brother Paul Kallal for the Oblates of the Virgin Mary; and Brother Antonio B. Lopez for the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata.

The rite of ordination began after the Liturgy of the Word. The candidates were presented to Cardinal Seán O'Malley, who elected them for ordination to the diaconate.

In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley talked about the concept of servanthood and its importance in the role of the deacon. He pointed to the description in the liturgy's first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, in which the apostles selected seven men "of good repute, filled with the Holy Spirit, wisdom, and faith" to be the first deacons.

"Those are the qualifications. The job description is being friends and waiting on tables," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He said the seven being ordained that day were joining the line of the original seven deacons ordained by the apostles.

"The diaconate is an extraordinary expression of Christ's servanthood. Its origins are in apostolic times, and the first duties of the deacons were to wait on tables, to care for widows, orphans, and the sick. Theirs was a humble task directed first at the basic physical needs of the people, but very soon we see the role of the deacon expanded to preaching and baptizing, caring for people's spiritual as well as their physical needs," Cardinal O'Malley said.

He said that they must do their work "out of love for Jesus and love for his people."

"If we love Jesus, we will love the Church and the people that he died for," Cardinal O'Malley said.

After the homily, the candidates for the diaconate each promised respect and obedience to their bishop and, in the case of the men being ordained for religious communities, to their superiors. To show humility and submission to God, the men lay prostrate before the altar while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.

Each ordinand received a stole and dalmatic, the vestments that signify the office of the diaconate and the deacon's role in celebrating the Eucharist. They also received the Book of the Gospels, with the instruction to "Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."

The rite of ordination concluded with the kiss of peace, as the cardinal and all the deacons present greeted the new transitional deacons. The newly ordained then ministered the Eucharist as deacons for the first time.

Speaking to the Pilot after the Mass, newly ordained Deacon Joseph Hubbard said he was "excited and overjoyed."

"I feel encouraged by all the support I've received and overwhelmed by God's blessing in my life," he said.