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BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley ordained eight men as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston in a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Oct. 3.
The newly ordained are Deacons Jared Auclair for St. Michael Parish in Hudson; Ronald Dowding for St. Mary Parish in Holliston; Anthony Foti for St. Patrick Parish in Stoneham; Paul Key for the Sts. Mary and Joseph Collaborative in Kingston and Plymouth; Donald Larose for Holy Family Parish in Duxbury; Stephen May for St. Margaret Mary Parish in Westwood; John Minch for St. Veronica Parish in Burlington; and Peter Richardson for All Saints Parish in Haverhill.
Derived from the Greek word "diakonos," meaning servant or minister, the deacon is the first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church. Among their many functions in parishes, deacons may aid the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel, deliver homilies, and preside at baptisms, weddings, and rites of Christian burial. In addition to a parish assignment, deacons are also assigned to ministries of the archdiocese.
In keeping with current coronavirus safety protocols, the ordinands wore masks and remained as distanced as possible throughout the ordination Mass.
To allow for social distancing among the congregation, each ordinand was allotted only 20 guests plus two invited clergy. The guests, all of whom provided contact tracing information and underwent temperature checks upon entering the cathedral, were not handed programs but instead received them by email in advance.
After the Gospel reading, which was proclaimed by Deacon Christopher Connelly, the director for the permanent diaconate for the archdiocese, the eight deacon candidates were presented to Cardinal O'Malley, who elected them for ordination.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley spoke about the formation of the diaconate as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, emphasizing their mission to "be healer and reconciler."
"Like the first deacons, these men being ordained today are being called to be icons of Christ the Servant, healers in a divided world, messengers of hope and mercy to all those who are suffering," the cardinal said.
He briefly recounted the story of St. Lawrence, a deacon who was martyred in Rome during the third century. When the authorities demanded that he turn over to them the Church's treasures, he showed them the poor and said that they were the Church's treasures.
"It is our hope that our new deacons will discover that indeed the poor are the treasure of the Church and that they have a special claim on our love and devotion," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He pointed out that one of the tasks of the deacon is to bury the dead and console the grieving, "by transmitting the certainty of Christ's promise of eternal life."
"Particularly, during this time of pandemic, we have come to appreciate how important is this ministry of burying the dead and consoling their loved ones," Cardinal O'Malley said.
He urged the new deacons to be "the hands of Christ."
"Christ's hands were strong and calloused, they were accustomed to hard work and yet they were gentle hands that brought comfort and consolation," he said.
Cardinal O'Malley called the deacon Philip's interaction with the Ethiopian eunuch an example of one-on-one ministry.
"Sometimes that personal contact with an individual is what allows that person to experience God's grace and mercy in their lives," he said.
The cardinal said that the Church has always evangelized in two ways: by announcing the Kerygma, and through the witness of the community of faith.
"As a deacon, your role in helping to shape our communities in that spirit of fraternity, hospitality and service, will help our communities to be beacons of faith, where people will feel not judged or rejected, but forgiven, accepted, appreciated, and welcomed into a loving community," Cardinal O'Malley told the elect.
After the homily, the candidates approached the cardinal one at a time and pledged obedience to him and his successors. Then, they lay prostrate before the altar while the assembly prayed for them.
Cardinal O'Malley then laid his hands on the head of each candidate, conferring the Holy Spirit upon them and ordaining them to the diaconate.
The newly ordained were then vested with stoles and dalmatics -- the vestments of the deacon -- and received the Book of the Gospels, with the instruction to believe, teach, and practice the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The new deacons then assisted in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Following the consecration, rather than have the congregation form lines, the new deacons fanned out through the unoccupied rows of the cathedral, bringing Communion to their own wives, families and guests as they remained in their pews.
Maureen and Jerry Costello came to support Deacon Peter Richardson, who has been assigned to their parish, All Saints Parish in Haverhill. Deacon Richardson's daughter had made "Deacon Pete" masks for his guests to wear during the Mass. The first blessing he gave after his ordination was for his mother.
Speaking to The Pilot after the Mass, Maureen Costello said, "It's been a long four years for the whole parish since (Deacon Richardson) started this. We've been praying for him since the beginning, and it's just so beautiful to be here and celebrate this great moment with him."