From The B.C. Catholic in Vancouver:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began with a joyous occasion for the Archdiocese of Vancouver. In the presence of 100 parishioners and his fellow converts to Catholicism, Michael Shier was ordained a deacon Jan. 18.
Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, celebrated the ordination Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral. Among the concelebrants were vocations director Father Joseph Nguyen and chancellor Father Bruce McAllister.
“Before Our Lord died for us, He prayed that His followers would all be one. In the diaconal ordination of Michael Shier, we are experiencing one such answer to His prayer,” the archbishop began his homily.
“Michael: you have demonstrated great courage and deep faith in undertaking the journey from a familiar and loved home into an unknown future.”
Shier, a former Anglican Catholic Church of Canada clergyman, hopes to be ordained a Catholic priest later this year. With 11 members of his former congregation, he converted to Roman Catholicism in June 2012.
Shier told The B.C. Catholic after the Mass that since then, he has felt “part of a machine that actually works.” Many well-wishers had been asking if he was excited: “I’m not excited, I’m relieved,” he said.
Father McAllister, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism in 1998, clarified why Deacon Shier felt relief: his studies had taken an intense 18 months, and resulted in a dossier being sent to the Vatican for the Pope’s approval. A positive response came in November 2013.
The priest also said Deacon Shier had been ordained a transitional deacon, or one who expects to be ordained to the priesthood, and not a permanent deacon.
Another convert, Christine Schmitt, thought it would be “wonderful to see him go back to his former ministry.”
“He sings with us in the choir, too. We hope we don’t lose him as a bass,” she quipped.
In his homily Archbishop Miller called Deacon Shier’s ordination a historic occasion and praised his “leap of faith: a leap into the light of Christ.”
He described St. Luke’s account, in Acts 8, of the deacon Philip asking an Ethiopian if he understood what he was reading. The foreigner replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
“In this way, the Ethiopian discovered the answer to his yearnings and questions in the person of Christ,” the archbishop said.
Father William Ashley, the pastor of Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish, recalled meeting the deacon five years earlier.
“Michael sought me out, along with a few other Anglican clergymen,” to chat about joining Catholicism, Father Ashley said.
He slowly got to know the community, and with Archbishop Miller’s permission, preached twice for the Rev. Shier’s congregation.
Congratulations, Deacon Shier, and welcome. Ad multos annos!