VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington ordained 21 men from the Pontifical North American College to the diaconate on September 30 in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Hundreds of family members, friends and students attended Mass at the pulpit altar in St. Peter’s, watching the liturgy full of joy and rich in symbolic traditions.
Among those who concelebrated the Mass were American Cardinal James Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and Australian Cardinal George Pell, former Prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Also present were American Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, retired Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem and former Rector of the American Seminary in Rome, and several American Bishops.
Two of the new deacons studying at the college are Australians; one was ordained for the Archdiocese of Sydney and the other for the Archdiocese of Melbourne. The 19 Americans were ordained for 15 different dioceses across the United States, including three from the Archdiocese of Washington.
Cardinal Gregory, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis 10 months ago and took possession of his titular church in Rome at the end of September, delivered the homily.
âThe church has always had extremely high standards when it comes to choosing those it summons to sacred orders,â he said. The order of the diaconate is an important âtime of transitionâ for those who will continue to prepare for the priesthood, and it is an important opportunity to grow in Christ and to humbly serve God and his people.
The office of deacon is associated with the âministry of charity,â he said. A deacon should be âa man of charity, (with) genuine and sincere compassion and concern for the poor, neglected and marginalized members of our world. A heartless deacon for charity will be a hollow and worthless son. “
âDeacons are called to visit the sick, to work for justice, for immigrants, to comfort those in pain, to help the hungry find food, naked clothes and the homeless a home. Deacons must visit those who are in prison and in nursing homes, âsaid the cardinal. âDeacons are never far removed from those whom the Lord Jesus identified as the least of his sisters and brothers. “
However, their ministry is much more than “just social work” as they are filled by the Holy Spirit with the grace of their office, he said.
They can offer the bread of eternal life from the Lord’s altar and share the gospel, sharing God’s invitation to seek his kingdom.
âToday you become preachers, please do so with fidelity to the truth of the gospel and to the tradition of the Church,â Cardinal Gregory told the new deacons. âPeople look for inspiring preachers who challenge them, encourage them to deepen their faith, and help them discover the presence of God in their lives.
He asked them “to be attentive celebrants of the liturgical life of the church, to carefully consider the details of the rituals so that people are edified by the worship of the church and sanctified by the sacraments and the prayer of the Church. ‘church’ and never distract them by being ‘too casual’. or too obsessive.
Their embrace of the gift of celibacy will be less burdensome, he said, when they live like Christ with transparent modesty, great simplicity and draw strength from constant prayer and conversation with God.
âWhen your prayer life is strong and faithful, when your lifestyle is not encumbered with too many possessions, comforts and distractions, your life and your love will reflect the same appearance that Christ Himself provided to them. people who have found his teaching and his ministry so compelling, âsaid the cardinal.
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