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New Heralds of the Gospel

Three Seminarians Receive Diaconate Ordination

by MOSAIC Editorial Team

On April 14, 2018, the Most Reverend Arturo Cepeda, auxiliary bishop of Detroit, ordained to the transitional diaconate three seminarians from Sacred Heart’s Class of 2019. Receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders were third-year graduate seminarians for the Archdiocese of Detroit, John McKenzie, Adam Nowak, and Derik Peterman. For these young men, the transitional diaconate is the final preparatory step on the journey to the priesthood.

Unlike the permanent diaconate, the transitional diaconate is destined for future ordination to the priesthood. The first of the three degrees of Holy Orders, this irrevocable step is one of the most significant of a man’s life. During the ceremony, the men will publicly make promises of celibacy, prayer, and obedience. Some of the responsibilities of a transitional deacon include daily prayer, sacramental duties, and preaching.

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.

MOSAIC Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.