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Story and photos by Sean Gallagher
While being questioned by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein on Sept. 17 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, they stated their intention to continue in their formation. As a result of the liturgy, they have gone from being deacon aspirants to deacon candidates.
Calling it “a historic day for the archdiocese,” Archbishop Buechlein spoke to the men in his homily about what they were about to do.
“Compelled by the love of Christ, and strengthened by the inner working of the Holy Spirit,” he said, “you’ve arrived at the moment where you are to express openly your desire to be bound in the holy order of diaconate for the service of God and humankind.”
The archbishop went on to exhort the 25 men to continue in their formation and assured them of the support of the Church.
“From this day, you must cultivate more fully your vocation, using especially those means that can be offered to you as help and support by the ecclesial community who is entrusted with this task,” he said. “On the part of all of us, trusting in the Lord, we will help you with our love and prayer.”
The liturgy was the culmination of the first year of the deacon formation program in which the men completed several academic courses, participated in formation sessions, entered into spiritual direction and ministered in parishes.
The formation program will continue for two more years, with the ordination of the men to the diaconate scheduled for June 2008. Those who will be ordained will be the first permanent deacons in the history of the Archdio-cese of Indianapolis.
Deacon candidate Bill Jones, a member of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, was aware of the importance of the day for him and his fellow candidates.
“When you think of the whole ordination process, it starts sinking in,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience, but a very exciting experience.”
Deacon candidate Larry French, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Jennings County, was struck by the emphasis on the sacrament of holy orders in the liturgy.
“It’s unbelievable, especially when you hear them start talking about holy orders,” he said. “One thing that a lot
of us had never thought that we’d receive was holy orders and now we’re talking about it. It’s very exciting and very moving.”
After the Mass, French’s wife Terri expressed the joy that the other wives and family members showed during the applause given to the candidates twice during the liturgy.
“It’s jubilation,” she said. “This is total joy, knowing that what he’s been doing all along in our parish, he’s now going to get the opportunity to do even more. We’re all so proud of him.”
Over the last year, he participated in St. Patrick’s burgeoning Hispanic ministry, assisting in its Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, its confirmation preparation program and in marriage preparation.
“I hope to get better and better, and to learn more,” he said. “I just want to keep working in my parish because our Hispanic ministry is very large and we definitely need help. Of course, this is pretty good because we are learning how to serve not only the Hispanic community but the community as a whole.”
Benedictine Father Bede Cisco, director of the archdiocesan Office of Deacon Formation, said the day was a “real joy” for him and that he values the pledge that the deacon candidates made during the Mass.
“It’s a confirmation of my sense that these guys are very committed and service-oriented individuals,” he said. “I’m glad to see them making that commitment and continuing in their formation. I think it’s a witness to the Church that this kind of willingness to serve the Church is very present in our local Church.” †