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ROXBURY -- In a last major step toward the priesthood, seven men were ordained transitional deacons in the presence of family, friends, fellow seminarians, clergy, and religious during a June 10 Mass at Holy Name Parish in Roxbury.
"Today is a great day, a great day for these seven," said Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto, who celebrated the Mass on behalf of Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley, in his homily.
"It is a great and wonderful day for the faith communities from which they come, for their family, their friends, who supported them in their faith journey and also for those who have been responsible for their formation. But, it's also a most wonderful day for the local Church here in the Archdiocese of Boston," he continued.
At the start of the ordination Mass, Bishop Uglietto explained to the congregation that the cardinal had suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and was recovering from a June 9 medical procedure to repair it.
"The cardinal expects to return to his usual schedule of activities by next week," he said.
Ordained during the Mass were Deacons Benito Moreno, Andrea Povero, and Eric Velasquez from Remptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline; Deacons Joseph Kim and Michael Rora from St. John's Seminary in Brighton; and Deacons Baldemar Garza and Lambert Nieme from Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston.
The deacon, from the Greek word "diakonos," meaning servant or minister, is the first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church. Among the many functions they perform in parishes, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings, and rites of Christian burial, as well as aid the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel, and deliver homilies.
The seven men will serve for one full year as transitional deacons before being ordained priests.
"These men take this step with eyes open. They are well aware that the office of deacon to which they will be ordained is one of service," said Bishop Uglietto.
"They have generously responded to the call of God, to minister to his people as servants. They can find a good example of humble servants in so many of the ordained who have walked the path before them -- the classes who were ordained ahead of them, as well as the priests and deacons who are here today to support them."
"In our generation, I am in awe of those who have said yes to the Lord, and now serve in Church leadership," he continued.
The rite of ordination began following the Gospel reading, when the candidates were presented to Bishop Uglietto and he elected them for ordination to the diaconate.
Then, following the homily, the men approached the bishop one-by-one, kneeled, and then promised respect and obedience to him and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.
Bishop Uglietto then imposed his hands on each man in silence, completing their ordination to the transitional diaconate by praying the prayer of ordination.
The deacons then received a stole and dalmatic, signifying the office of diaconate and the deacon's role in the celebration of the Eucharist, as well the Book of the Gospels, instructing them to believe, teach, and practice the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The rite of ordination concluded with the kiss of peace before the newly ordained ministered the Eucharist as deacons for the first time during the Mass.
Speaking with The Pilot following the Mass, Deacon Rora recalled that he had first heard the call to the priesthood around 10 years ago. He spent five years discerning on his own, and then another five years in the seminary.
"Everyone always asks 'Are you nervous?'" he said. "At this point, no, I'm not nervous. I'm so excited. I've wanted this so much."
"Being here is fantastic!" he exclaimed, adding that there is "really no great words to describe it."
"It's really just an incredible calling, it's an incredible feeling know that God has called me to this vocation."
Yet, despite all of the day's excitement, Deacon Rora said he has his eyes on the future, when he will become ordained a priest.
"This day has been full of joys, but next year is going to be even more joys... the celebration, the vocation is really just beginning to flourish."