Men preparing for diaconate receive rite
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
EARLY – As deacons and deacon candidates, “we are called to be God’s humble servants,” said Bishop Walker Nickless during the Mass for the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders and Institution of Acoloytes on Oct. 29 at Sacred Heart Church in Early.
“Our candidates today are candidates for humble service to the people of God in our diocese,” he said. “Our acolytes are signs of humble service at the altar, lovingly setting the table for the sacrifice of the Mass.”
The candidates were recommended for holy orders and consider themselves ready to respond to the call of God, said the bishop.
“The call of the Lord must be heard and understood by means of signs which are revealed daily to the wise through the will of God - those who God chooses to be sharers in the ministerial diaconate of Christ,” he said. “He promises and helps with his grace. At the same time, he entrusts to us the task of inquiring about a candidate’s aptitude.”
Bishop Nickless added that once the candidates have been tested they will be called and ordained. Through holy orders they will serve the church and “build the Christian communities by preaching the word of God and the celebration of the sacraments.”
“You will learn each day to live according to the formation and learn to be members who live the Gospel. You will be strengthened in faith, hope and charity,” said the bishop. “Compelled by the love of Christ and strengthened by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, you have arrived at a moment when you are to express openly your desire to be bound in holy orders for the service of God and humankind. This desire we receive with joy.”
“Beloved sons, the pastors and teachers in charge of your formation and others who know you, have given a favorable account of you and we have full confidence in their testimony,” said Bishop Nickless. “In response to the Lord’s call, do you resolve to complete your preparation so that in due time through Holy Orders you will be prepared to assume ministry within the church?”
He also asked them the question, “Do you resolve to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body, the church?”
All of the deacon candidates replied, “I do,” to the questions.
“The church accepts your resolve with joy,” said the bishop. “May God who has begun the work in you bring it to fulfillment.”
Pick is in his third year of formation. He said that after two years as an aspirant, someone who is aspiring to be ordained, now the “bishop feels we can continue and formally be declared a candidate.”
“The church is an important part of my life,” he said. “I wanted to do more service for my church.”
He said entering the diaconate program was a lengthy process for him that goes back to about 1994. Many priests have been a big part of his process.
“It culminated in a conversation with Bishop Nickless. I had spoken with him about some other issues going on in my life and he looked me square in the eye and said, ‘I think you might be called to a vocation with the diaconate,’” said Henrich. “I remember driving back to my office afterwards and it was like a lightning bolt hit me. I was like, ok, I guess I am going to say, ‘yes.’”
He looks forward to serving the church as a deacon.
The estimated ordination year for this group of men is 2014.
“It will be your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in their sacred ministry of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, to give holy Eucharist to the faithful at Mass, and to carry it to the sick,” said Bishop Nickless. “You must now strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You must more deeply understand the spiritual reality of what you do, so that you may daily offer yourselves to God the Father as a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to him through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Individually, the candidates knelt before the bishop. Handing them a sacred vessel of bread, the bishop said,
“Take this sacred vessel, with bread to be transformed in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Make your own life worthy of serving at the table of the Lord, for his church.”
Rudd is in his fifth year of diaconate formation and serves as the parish life coordinator at St. John the Baptist in Bancroft, St. Mary’s in Armstrong and Sacred Heart in Ledyard.
He said the Rite of Acolyte “is kind of the final step towards ordination. It is an indication that our long process is coming to a close.” He will now be able to purify sacred vessels at Mass.
“It is very humbling to be serving the church,” said Rudd. “It takes a lot of people to make this happen – my spiritual director, my pastors, the priests I have known and my wife. They have all been a part of this.”
Carney said the Rite of Acolyte “gives you a closer bond with the sacrifice of the Mass. Anything that can draw you closer to the Mass is a good thing.”
“It is a great privilege to be able to assist in a reverential ceremony. It helps the faithful to get more out of the Mass,” he said.
The estimated ordination date for the four men is June 9, 2012, the Feast of St. Ephriam, who was a deacon and doctor of the church.
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