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Cardinal ordains seven transitional deacons


The ordinands lie prostrate in front of the altar during the singing of the Litany of the Saints. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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SOUTH END -- Cardinal Seán O'Malley ordained seven transitional deacons in the presence of family, friends, seminarians, clergy, and religious during a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Jan. 9.

"Today it is a great joy to impose hands on the seven men of good repute, just as the Apostles did 2,000 years ago... We express our gratitude to their families and friends and all of those who have supported them in their vocational journey," the cardinal said in his homily.

Deacons Chris Woongjin Bae, Matthew Conley, Patrick Fiorillo, J. Thomas Gignac, Stephen LeBlanc, Huan Dominic Ngo, and Thomas Sullivan were ordained at the Mass, taking their last major step toward ordination to the priesthood.

"These seven will be joined by two of their classmates who are already deacons as they reassemble here in the cathedral in a few short months for priestly ordination," said Cardinal O'Malley.

The rite of ordination began during the Liturgy of the Word, when the candidates were presented to Cardinal O'Malley after the Gospel reading and he elected them for ordination to the diaconate.

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.

"I would remind you that as deacons, you have sacred functions in the liturgy, but that the very first role of the deacon is to care for the material needs of widows and orphans. In the life of a priest and a deacon, there's no dichotomy between our cultic role, and the humble service that we must give washing the feet of our brothers and sisters," Cardinal O'Malley said.

"The towel must be just as emblematic as the stole," he continued.

Following the homily, the men approached the cardinal one-by-one, kneeled, 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.

Cardinal O'Malley then imposed his hands on each man in silence. Afterwards, he completed their ordination to the transitional diaconate by praying the prayer of ordination.

The cardinal presented the deacons with 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 given by Cardinal O'Malley, followed by the bishops, priests, and deacons present for the ordination.

Each man received the stole and dalmatic of his office before the newly ordained ministered the Eucharist as deacons for the first time during the Mass.

Following the Mass, the newly ordained deacons posed for photographs and greeted their family and friends.

Deacon Fiorillo told The Pilot the Mass seemed to him like all "one moment."

He said that he came to a profound realization upon seeing the large number of people in attendance at the cathedral.

"I actually realized at that moment that I'm suddenly gaining a new family, I have a new spiritual father, and new spiritual children that I'm called to serve. I think that realization really hit me," Deacon Fiorillo said.

Standing next to loved ones, Deacon Conley told The Pilot how thankful he is of the supportive people in his life.

"The unworthiness is there, but I know that Christ is within me who strengthens this call and strengthens my vocation every day, so I'm very blessed to be in this position and very grateful for all the people that made this day possible. I wouldn't be here without all the people praying on their knees every day for me," he said.

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