The enduring power of relationships between friends, wives and husbands and parents and children were deeply woven into the June 23 ordination of 16 men as permanent deacons and two men as transitional deacons at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (Related story: Transitional deacons see witness in permanent deacons)
A new deacon was vested with the dalmatic—a deacon’s outer vestment—that had belonged to a friend who was a deacon, but died six weeks after being ordained in 2008.
A father was ordained just in time to witness the wedding vows of his daughter in two weeks.
And on the morning of the ordination, the wife of that new deacon gave him a new wedding band that symbolized the spiritual deepening of their marriage.
The latest class of permanent deacons is the second in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. The first deacons were ordained by Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein in 2008. (See that coverage here)
Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, who ordained this class of deacons, said he spoke to the archbishop the night before the ordination.
“He called me last night with his regrets that he is not able to be here with us in this cathedral,” Bishop Coyne said. “But he is certainly here with us in prayer.”
Deacon Frank Roberts, a member of St. Andrew Parish in the Richmond Catholic Community, felt that his deceased friend, Deacon Ronald Stier, was with him during the ordination Mass.(See a photo gallery from the ordination, taken by Sean Gallagher)
Deacon Stier, from Richmond, was a member of the archdiocese’s first class of permanent deacons. He died of cancer six weeks after his 2008 ordination and two days after he blessed Deacon Roberts and Deacon James Miller, also of the Richmond Catholic Community, before the pair attended their first weekend of classes in the deacon formation program.
Deacon Roberts wore his friend’s alb as he processed into the cathedral on June 23. Fathers Todd Riebe and Stanley Herber later put Stier’s dalmatic on him.
“When they put it on me, I could feel his presence,” Deacon Roberts said. “I’m quite anxious [to start ministering]. I just hope that I can serve … with half the dignity that Ron did.”
Donna Stier, the widow of Deacon Stier, is confident that the two new deacons from Richmond will serve the Church well.
“This has been a very bittersweet day to see all the deacons from Ron’s class and all the wives,” she said. “I’m just so glad that I could be here to share this with Frank and Jim. It brings back a lot of good memories. Frank and Jim will be very good deacons.”
Joyce Roberts, Deacon Roberts’ wife of 53 years, was also moved by her husband’s decision to wear the dalmatic of their friend.
“That is very precious to us,” she said. “He teared up when he was vested. I kind of teared up when he did, too. We think a lot of Ron.”