This morning I left early for Casper. Today, our Permanent Deacon candidates took their final, formal step towards being ordained as Deacons; they received today the ministry of acolyte. The ministries of reader (lector) and acolyte were the two ministries preserved after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Prior to receiving Holy Orders, there were several minor orders received. Today, lector and acolyte remain, but are no longer reserved to candidates preparing for Holy Orders, but can also be assigned to the lay faithful.
Our seventeen deacon candidates are together this weekendn for their monthly academic classes. We gathered at 10:30 at St. Anthony for Mass and the conferal of the ministry of acolyte. I reflected with them during the homily that they are now six months away from being ordained as Permanent Deacons for service in the Church. As acolytes, and as those preparing to be ordained to Holy Orders, I encouraged them to prayerfully reflect on their role as “co-workers in Jesus Christ”. This was how St. Paul referred to Prisca and Aquila in the first reading today in his letter to the Romans.
I also discussed how important it is for them as acolytes, who assist the deacon and priest at the altar during Mass, to better understand and appreciate the Eucharist. The gathering of the community for the celebration of the Mass is God’s work. The Eucharistic celebration as Sacrament is the continuing, transforming, salvific work of Christ in the Church today. This work of God through Christ is the work of communio.
In every Eucharistic celebration, God is at work through Christ creating the one family of God, communio. In every Eucharist, God through Christ joins heaven and earth. In every Eucharist, God through Christ joins people to Himself. In every Eucharist, God through Christ joins people to each other. In every Eucharist, God through Christ draws us into the one Sonship of Christ, that we might be obedient to the will of the Father.
Our local Church is blessed to have these seventeen men so willingly and well, preparing for the service of the Church as Permanent Deacons. Please continue to pray for them.
After Mass, those present gathered for a meal. It was good to see so many of the wives, family and friends gathered for this significant moment.
Also present for the celebration were six young men who are making a RAD retreat in Casper this weekend. RAD signifies Radical Awareness of Discipleship Retreat. The retreat is for young men sophomore in high school or older. It is a Friday evening through Sunday afternoon opportunity to pray and allow for a deeper awareness of how and where God is calling a person to follow Christ. Several priests and seminarians gathered with these men to share their own stories of how they discovered their vocation, and what their life of seminary studies and now as priests entails.
I’m told there were initially up to 25 who had expressed an interest in attending this weekend’s retreat, but life’s busy schedule presented many obligations and distractions. I was glad to spend some time with those who were able to attend. I shared my own vocation story and answered several questions they prepared ahead of time. It was a very enjoyable morning and early afternoon.
Please continue to pray for our seminarians and for our young people who are seeking to know and answer God’s call in their lives. As important as it is for each individual to “hear God’s interior call”, it is equally important for all of us to be an “external voice” inviting our young people to consider priesthood and religious life.