As the Diocese of Madison was still mourning the loss of their Bishop, the Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, who died on November 24, they would soon be blessed with a fruit of his labor. On December 8, Sacred Heart seminarian Dcn. William Van Wagner, a fourth-year graduate seminarian for the diocese of Madison, was ordained as a transitional deacon.
Bishop Morlino, who was scheduled to ordain Deacon William to the transitional diaconate, died at the age of 71, just weeks before the ceremony. During his fifteen-plus years as Bishop of Madison, Bishop Morlino made priestly vocations a top focus—ordaining forty men to the priesthood with another twenty-four men in formation. In his absence, the Most Rev. Jerome E. Listecki, archbishop of the Diocese of Milwaukee, presided over the ordination rite held at St. Paul University Catholic Parish in Madison, Wisconsin.
During the ceremony, Deacon William made the commitments of celibacy, prayer, and obedience to the Church. He later stood before the assembly dressed in a white-and-gold stole and dalmatic—the vestments of a deacon—as they welcomed him with applause.
In his final preparatory semester before presbyteral ordination, Deacon Bill will serve the seminary community during the week while taking classes, and he will be assigned to a parish for weekend service. The transitional diaconate is the precursor to presbyteral ordination in 2019. Ministerial duties offer a first-hand opportunity to experience ordained ministry prior to undertaking priestly responsibilities.
Other seminarians studying at Sacred Heart who were ordained as transitional deacons in 2018 include Dcn. John McKenzie, Dcn. Adam Nowak, and Dcn. Derik Peterman for the Archdiocese of Detroit; Dcn. Peter Teresa McConnell, FHS, for the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit; and Dcn. Matthew Wagner for the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. They, also, will be ordained as priests in 2019 in their home dioceses.
The Sacred Heart Major Seminary community prays for the repose of Bishop Morlino’s soul, his family, and for all of the faithful of the Diocese of Madison.