Seven ordained to transitional diaconate

SOUTH END -- Just as the Apostles appointed seven men to assist them in their ministry, so, too, were seven men ordained to the transitional diaconate on Jan. 27.

Deacons Robert James Blaney, Christopher Jude Casey, Andreas Rafael Davison, Martin George Dzengeleski, Daniel Joseph Kennedy, Jr., Charles Madi Okin and Matthew Joseph Westcott were ordained by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

“As I look at our seven candidates for ordination, I ask if they should be the ‘Magnificent Seven,’ the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ or the ‘Seven Dwarfs,’” the cardinal joked in his homily. “Today they are called, as the deacons in the Acts of the Apostles, simply ‘the seven.’”

The new deacons will be ordained to the priesthood in two months. Six are studying at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton and the seventh, Deacon Casey, is studying at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.

Their ordination began with the introductory rites and the Liturgy of the Word. After the readings, each man was called forward to serve the people of God and elected by Cardinal O’Malley.

The cardinal then delivered his homily, urging the seven men to approach their ministry as the first seven deacons in the New Testament did. Their lives belong to God and must be dedicated to Him, he said.

“As ordained ministers, deacons and then priests, you must jealously guard the hours needed for prayer and for the ministry of the word,” he said. “Be men of prayer and then share the fruits of your prayer life with God’s people.”

The word “deacon” means servant, and deacons are called to serve with humility, love and joy, he added.

Cardinal O’Malley commended the men for answering God’s call and exhorted them to continue to do so. To do otherwise is to “walk away sad” like the rich young man in the Gospel. The rich young man was isolated by his wealth, turned his back on Jesus and walked away. His story is a tragedy because he also turned his back on the people he could have helped through his ministry, the cardinal said.

“Every time we say ‘yes’ to God we’re opening the door a little wider for God’s light to shine over the whole world,” he said. “When we say ‘no,’ that door closes a little bit, and the world is impoverished and left a little darker, a little colder.”

The Gospel says that Jesus looked on the rich young man with love, but that the man averted his eyes before walking away.

“If you lose sight of the Lord’s loving gaze, you will be at risk of turning your backs,” the cardinal told the men to be ordained. “Your treasure must be Christ and His call to you.”

Following the homily, the candidates made a commitment to celibacy and promised obedience to the bishop and his successors. They then lay prostrate before the altar as the litany of saints was sung. The choir consisted of the Cathedral Festival Choir with members of various parish choirs as well as seminarians from St. John’s Seminary and Blessed John XXIII National Seminary.

After the litany, each candidate was called forward as Cardinal O’Malley laid his hands on the candidate’s head and recited the prayer of consecration. Then each new deacon was vested with the stole and dalmatic, garments that signify the office of the diaconate and the deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.

The rite of ordination ended with the presentation of the book of Gospels and kiss of peace.

The deacons participated in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which followed.

At the end of the ordination, Cardinal O’Malley urged all Catholics to pray for vocations to the priesthood.

“I encourage everyone to keep that intention upwardmost in your prayers,” he said.

After the ceremony, the new deacons greeted friends and family members while reacting to their ordination.

Deacon Blaney described the ceremony as a “surreal experience.”

“I was so aware that God was in charge of everything here,” he said.

The most meaningful part of the ordination for him was the presentation of the book of the Gospels when the cardinal said to each man, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”

That challenge is what Deacon Blaney said he has been preparing for in his six years at the seminary.

Deacon Casey said that the most profound part of the ordination for him was the laying on of hands.

“It’s the theological moment I became a deacon, and I’ll always remember it,” he said.

Deacon Madi added that the entire ordination ceremony was very moving.

“It is a wonderful gift of God. I do not see how I can repay the Lord for the goodness He has done in my life and will continue to do,” he said.