Here are some great images, below, from Saint Thomas Aquinas parish in East Lansing as ten men are ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Earl Boyea on Saturday, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
“My dear sisters and brothers, these your husbands and fathers and brothers and sons, are now to be advanced to the Order of the Diaconate," said Bishop Boyea in his homily.
"Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they will assist the bishop and priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity always showing themselves to be servants of all. I know you are proud of them; please continue to give them your love and pray for them.”
Those ordained included two transitory deacons who will progress towards ordination to the sacred priesthood next year, God willing. They are seminarians Joshua Fons and Riley O’Shea.
Also ordained were eight married men to the permanent diaconate. They are James Collom, John Goff, William Kenney, Eric Pogrmich, Raymond Rzepecki, David Taccolini, Arthur Williams, Jasen Wright.
Please keep all these men in your prayers in the months and years to come. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for them! Meanwhile, Bishop Boyea’s homily is reproduced in full below:
Many thanks to the St. Thomas-St. John Parish and the Diocesan staffs for their work in preparing for today’s celebration. Thanks to the choir, servers, lectors, and all others contributing to our celebration today. Thanks to Deacon Randy Desrochers and Fr. John Whitlock and all those involved in their formation, including the professors who taught them. Thanks to the faculty present from Sacred Heart Seminary. Finally, many thanks to family members who have shared the faith, prayed, and supported these, our brothers.
My dear sisters and brothers, these your husbands and fathers and brothers and sons, are now to be advanced to the Order of the Diaconate. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they will assist the bishop and priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity always showing themselves to be servants of all. I know you are proud of them; please continue to give them your love and pray for them.
And now my dear sons and brothers, are you ready to wait on tables? That would seem to be the direction from chapter six of the Acts of the Apostles. However, as is well known, context can be everything. Just after this text and through chapter eight, we hear the accounts of two deacons, Stephen and Philip. Neither of them is waiting on tables. Rather they are prophets whose words are challenging and liberating. One proclaimed the Son of Man at the right hand of God and the other baptized the Ethiopian in Samaria. They were thus expanding the ministry of the Apostles throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
As a result of this context, we see that the prophet Jeremiah then becomes our model. And he received two instructions from the Lord, to go and to speak. Frankly, Jeremiah could not go very far; his ministry was rather limited to the Judean area centered on Jerusalem. Nonetheless, he went where God sent him, to his own, a destination that you also receive, to your own. We all know how that turned out for Jeremiah as he spoke words both of judgment and of hope, to build and to destroy.
His main work was to preach. The image in our first reading is of God touching his lips, giving him the words to say. This was not just a mechanical adjustment for Jeremiah, something that just affected his mouth. Rather, this touch involved taking on the mind of God, to think as God thinks. Our words then become not merely words, but God breaking into our own world as well as the world into which we speak those words. My brothers and sons, you are to take on the mind of Christ and thus let his voice break into the many places where your own sounds will be heard. And our words which follow are not our words but those of the Lord. Thus, when we proclaim, 'The Gospel of the Lord,' we are making it clear that we are not voicing our opinion, but fulfilling our office.
And all this is to be done with love. This beautiful passage in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John rests in the context of Jesus speaking at the Last Supper. Prior to our reading this morning, the Lord has just challenged his apostles to remain connected to him, as a branch is to the vine. The purpose of this connection is not for some form of comfort. Rather, Jesus’ aim is very practical. It is so that they will bear fruit. The love they receive from the Lord is like sap in the vine, leading ultimately to those very disciples sharing that same love with others. Love is meant to produce more love. But what kind of love is this?
The friendship which Jesus offers his followers is not some sentimental experience but a call to obedience, that is, similarly to lay down their own lives, and to bear the fruit of love in the same way that Jesus has and will love them.
This, then, brothers and sons, is what must fill your words, you who will be touched by the Lord himself: God’s very word, filled with the sap of sacrificial love. So, wrap your minds around this, embrace it, and think with the very heart of Jesus Christ himself.
And to those of you who will exercise your ministry committed to celibacy, which, as you all know, could apply to any one of you in the future, know that celibacy is the gift God provides you and the Church as you live as Jesus lived, totally for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
At the end of all, my sons and brothers, we only want to hear the words of the Father, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” God bless you all.
• You can watch Saturday’s ordinations again by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRMCilBqUiU