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WATERTOWN — Promising lives of celibacy, prayer and obedience to God, two seminarians — Robert Poitras and Jason Makos — were ordained to the transitional diaconate by Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley on Aug. 21 at St. Patrick Church in Water-town.
Friends, family members and parishioners gathered on the rainy day to support Deacons Poitras and Makos during their last step before becoming priests. Because the inside of the church was hot and humid, people wiped their faces with handkerchiefs and used their programs as fans.
Since Deacons Makos and Poitras are currently studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, they would have been ordained there. However, both deacons requested to be ordained while at home on summer break so that their families could attend. They are expected to be ordained to the priesthood with seven others from their class at St. John Seminary in May 2005.
During their time home, Deacon Makos has been serving at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton and Deacon Poitras has been serving at St. Patrick. The ordination opened with a song from a mixed choir of about 30 members from both parishes.
Advising the deacons in his homily, Archbishop O’Malley said, “Believe what you preach, preach what you read and practice what you preach.”
The archbishop spoke of the challenge of teaching the faith “in a world that knows little about God.” He stressed the importance of witnesses to the faith and asked the deacons to act as a healing presence “for a Church divided by language and ethnicity.”
The first seven deacons helped the apostles and served peoples’ physical needs by waiting tables and attending to the elderly, he said. Now those duties have expanded to preaching, baptizing and evangelizing, he added.
The word deacon means servant in Greek, and servants of God must work hard for someone else with little recognition, said Archbishop O’Malley.
"A life of service requires a capacity for giving. It requires humility," he said. "You will have to remind yourselves often, 'It's not about me.' It's about trust in the mission He has entrusted to you."
The mission is difficult and the fruits of it may never be visible, the archbishop said. “We must do what we do out of love for Jesus. If we love Jesus, we are going to love His Church, His people,” he said.
Addressing the deacons, he added, “You will express your love and friendship in the way that you keep your promises to the Lord.”
The promises made by the deacons include counter-cultural subjects like celibacy and obedience to God, he said. To be celibate is to show that “God must be loved above all else,” and “only as an act of love does celibacy make sense.”
Archbishop O’Malley called on the deacons to obey “with the spirit of generosity and love” and to “rejoice in your servitude.”
After the homily, both seminarians made promises to pray, proclaim the faith, show humble charity, be celibate and conform their way of life to Christ. Then they individually came forward, kneeled before Archbishop O’Malley and promised respect and obedience to him and his successors. The ordination concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist. Lunch was served after.
For the next few weeks, Deacon Poitras will continue to serve at St. Patrick and Deacon Makos will continue at St. Edith Stein until they go back to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Deacon Poitras said he was thankful to have the diaconate ordination at a local parish. “The people of St. Patrick and St. Stein have been fantastic,” he said.
Deacon Poitras’ brother, Father Steven Poitras, was ordained 11 years ago and serves at St. Michael Parish in Hudson.
Their father, Robert Poitras Sr. said, “I was telling the archbishop he now has my two sons, and I can’t give him any more,” he said. “I’ll find some new candidates — my grandson.”
Father Poitras said his brother is a “great person of prayer.”
"He's developed a much deeper, firmly-rooted spirituality," Father Poitras said. "He will make a great priest. Praise God."
Deacon Makos said the ordination was “the most intense spiritual experience I’ve ever had” and is thankful for the friends, family and parishioners who attended. The people from St. Edith Stein have inspired him, he said.
"So many people have touched me this summer -- those who were sick, those who've died," he said. "There's nothing else but saying 'yes' to priesthood."
Father Wayne Biernat from St. Mary in Westfield, which is in the Diocese of Springfield, attended St. John Seminary College with both deacons.
"The greatest thing about Bob and Jason is that they are sincere, down-to-earth guys whose dedication to Christ and the Church knows no bounds," he said.
The vocation director for the Archdiocese of Boston, Father Oscar Pratt, said seven years of preparation brought about the ordination of Deacon Poitras and Deacon Makos.
"It's a beautiful day when they can start living out this sacrament," he said. "They will be great servants to the Church and the Archdiocese of Boston."