Ordination update: 11 new deacons for Fort Wayne-South Bend

The ordination took place on May 21 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It marked a milestone: the first class of permanent deacons ordained for the diocese since 1983.

From Bishop Rhoades’ homily:

To proclaim the Gospel worthily in the Church’s liturgy, you must first hear that Word in your own heart and bear witness to it in your daily lives, in word and in deed. To preach to God’s people is not only an honor, it is a real commitment to holiness of life. As Saint Paul wrote to Timothy in our second reading today, deacons are to “hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.” You are called to be servants of the liberating truth of the Gospel, leading God’s people to encounter Jesus Christ and to welcome him into their lives.

Your proclamation of the Gospel is backed up by your practical witness of charity. As you know, from the very beginnings of the Church, the practice of charity has been part of the diaconal ministry. The seven men of which the Acts of the Apostles speak were chosen “to serve at tables.” Often, in the early Church, the deacons assisted the poor. We think, for example, of the holy deacons in Rome, like the martyr, Saint Lawrence. As deacons, you are called to have a special love and concern for the poor and needy. Your ministry of charity is not just an “added extra” in your ministry — it is an essential part of your diaconal identity. Pope Benedict, in his first encyclical, reminded the whole Church that the exercise of charity is part of the Church’s very nature, “an indispensable expression of the Church’s very being.” In your service as deacons, may you be ever conscious of your mission to practice charity, to serve the poor. There are so many in our world and in our diocese who are oppressed by poverty. There are many who are afflicted by material poverty. There are also the spiritually poor and the culturally poor: those who suffer from addictions, those who have no faith in God, those who are tempted to despair, those who have known suffering in their marriages, and those who suffer from loneliness. All around us are brothers and sisters in need of Christ’s healing love. May you be signs and instruments of his love, true servants of charity!

My brothers in Christ, your service of the word and of charity is intimately linked to your service at the altar. The Levites in the Old Testament assisted the priests in their rites of worship. In the new covenant, deacons assist the bishop and priests at the altar of the Lord. You are called to serve at the liturgy with reverence and devotion. It is an honor and a profound joy to be servants of the liturgy. The Body and Blood of our Lord is entrusted to you to be given to the faithful. Your devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, your love for the most Holy Eucharist, can be a powerful witness to those whom you serve. And, of course, it is the Eucharist that will sustain and nourish you in your diaconal ministry. May you be deacons whose lives are deeply rooted in the Eucharist, the sacrament that contains the whole spiritual good of the Church!

I wish to say a special word of thanks to the wives of our deacon candidates. What joy must be in your hearts today! You have given your consent to your husbands’ request for ordination. The Church thanks you for your love and support of your husbands’ diaconal vocation. The diaconal vocation of your husbands will be a special grace for your marriage and family life. You and your husbands are called to grow in mutual and sacrificial love, witnessing to the sanctity of marriage and the family, a witness so very much needed in our culture today. Your example can be a great encouragement to other married couples. May you continue to help one another to grow in holiness!

Congratulations, brothers!  Ad multos annos!

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