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BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley ordained nine men to the order of deacon in a bilingual Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Sept. 21, the feast of St. Matthew.
The new deacons are Alan Amaral from Sacred Heart Parish in Middleboro, Philip Anderson from St. Paul Parish in Hingham, Peter Bujwid from St. Eulalia Parish in Winchester, Wilfredo Dilan from St. Stephen Parish in Framingham, Ronald Gerwatowski from St. Mary Parish in Franklin, Bashan Goppee from St. Thomas More Parish in Braintree, Antonio Perez from Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale, Matthew Porter from St. Paul Parish in Hingham, and Glenn Smith from St. Michael Parish in Bedford.
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. In addition to a parish assignment, deacons are also assigned to ministries of the archdiocese.
After the Gospel reading, the nine deacon candidates were presented to Cardinal O'Malley, who elected them for ordination.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley reflected on the conversion of St. Matthew, which, like that of St. Paul, "seems very improbable and outrageous."
"Why Jesus calls anyone is a mystery. But one thing is sure: The call to ministry is also a call to conversion," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He pointed to the circumstances that led to the creation of the order of deacon, described in the Acts of the Apostles, when there was division in the Church regarding the distribution of food between Greek and Hebrew members.
"The first mission of the deacons was to heal divisions, build bridges, promote reconciliation and unity. This is still a very crucial need in our Church today," Cardinal O'Malley said.
After the homily, the ordinands approached the cardinal one at a time and pledged obedience to him and his successors. Then, the nine men lay prostrate before the altar while the assembly prayed for them and asked the saints to intercede for them through the singing of the Litany of the Saints.
Cardinal O'Malley then laid his hands on the head of each candidate, conferring the Holy Spirit upon them and ordaining them to the diaconate.
The newly ordained were then vested with stoles and dalmatics -- the vestments of the deacon --and received the Book of the Gospels, with the instruction to believe, teach, and practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Rite of Ordination ended with the fraternal kiss of peace given by the cardinal and the permanent deacons present. The new deacons then assisted in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Speaking to the Pilot after the Mass, Deacon Smith said the deacon formation program has been "a true blessing" for him and his wife.
"We're very blessed to be part of the diaconate community and part of Holy Mother Church," Deacon Smith said.
Deacon Bujwid described how grace sometimes "pierces through so clearly that it settles you and gives you a sense of encounter with the divine."
"It's up to each and every one of us to find our place in God's loving plan and to be honest with it and true to it and follow where Christ leads, because that's where you find your greatest joy and your happiness and your place in God's world," Deacon Bujwid said.