For Adam Nowak, ordination to the transitional diaconate was a momentous step. “This is the last step before ordination to the priesthood. It’s at diaconate ordination that we’re officially recognized as clerics in the Roman Church. We’ll now be able to baptize people, officiate at weddings, preach at Mass, and it prepares us for the ministry of the priesthood,” Nowak said. “It’s a really neat experience because at one moment, I’ll be a lay person, and then at the very next instant, I’ll be an ordained cleric.”
During the ceremony, the transitional deacons accepted the liturgical vestments of alb (white robe), stole, and dalmatic (ornamental over-vestment). The white alb represents the sanctifying grace received in the first sacrament of baptism and is also considered a symbol of the purity of heart that is necessary to enter into heaven. The stole serves as a distinctive element of the ordained minister and is worn in the celebration of the sacraments. It symbolizes the authority given by Christ, through the Church, to assist during liturgical functions. The dalmatic is a vestment unique to the deacon, it puts the individuality of the one who wears it in second place in order to emphasize his liturgical role.
“The vestments make you a lot more recognizable as a public minister of the Church” said Nowak. “The stole goes underneath the dalmatic because St. Paul says that ‘all things are tempered by love,’ so the stole being a sign of authority, the dalmatic would be a symbol of love—love covers your authority. So even as you have a certain authority as a deacon to be able to minister certain sacraments, you do so in love and with the love of Christ.”
Other seminarians studying at Sacred Heart who will be ordained to the transitional diaconate are Rodney Abasso and Perrin Atisha, third-year graduate seminarians for the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, Brother Peter Teresa, third-year graduate seminarian for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit religious community, and Matthew Wagner, third-year graduate seminarian for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.
For Perrin and Rodney, this won't their first diaconate ordination. On December 10, 2017, they were ordained to the subdiaconate for the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle. In the Chaldean Rite, the ministry of subdiaconate is seen as a minor order. The duties of a subdeacon are similar to those in the ministries of lector and acolyte in the Roman Rite.
“In the Chaldean Church, we’ll now be able to stand with the priest during Mass and to say the prayers of the Mass with the priest. We’ll also be able to read the Gospel and preach during Mass,” Attisha said. “There’s an excitement and joy of receiving the Lord in a deeper way.”
Pray for our seminarians as they continue their journey toward the priesthood.