HIGGINS: The diaconate ordination and what it means to become one

January 26, 2021

On the evening of Feb. 19 and the morning of Feb. 20, 23 men will be ordained to serve as permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Pope Paul VI restored the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church in his 1967 Apostolic letter Sacrum Diaconatus Ordimem. The special nature of the order of deacon strengthens deacons so that they “can permanently serve the mysteries of Christ and the Church.” Through the gift of the Holy Spirit and imposition of hands, the ordained fulfill a particular role. Bishops serve in the person of Christ the Head, the high priest, teacher and shepherd.

Priests serve as Christ the High Priest by assisting the bishop in his task to shepherd the flock. Deacons serve as Christ the Servant, responding to the call of the people of God in Liturgy, word and charity, especially to those in need.

Deacons minister not only within the Church but also outside the Church in the broader world.

In the book “The Character of the Deacon,” Dr. David Fagerberg wrote, “The day of his ordination is the cosmic, eschatological, transfiguration, pneumatic and ecclesial day, which contains his own ministry.” Indeed, with words and song, vesture and action, we pray what we believe.

After stating their consent and promises to Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the deacons will lay prostrate as the assembled community joins in the Litany of the Saints in prayer for the candidates. It is a moving moment and is indeed the duty of the faithful of the diocese to aid these men by their prayers. It is a prayerful and humbling moment for the candidates.

Cardinal DiNardo will then lay hands upon the candidates and call upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen them with the Spirit’s sevenfold grace. The Cardinal will pray, “May there abound in them every Gospel virtue: unfeigned love, concern for the sick and poor, unassuming authority, the purity of innocence and the observance of spiritual discipline. May Your commandments shine forth in their conduct, so that by the example of their way of life, they may inspire the imitation of Your holy people.”

These newly ordained deacons will be vested at the conclusion of the Prayer of Ordination in a stole and dalmatic, the liturgical vesture of deacons.

They will approach Cardinal DiNardo, who will hand them the Book of the Gospel. As they hold it, the Cardinal will pray, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”

It is fitting that the duty to proclaim the Gospel falls to the deacon, whose ministry is shaped profoundly by Christ’s word and action.

I have been privileged to attend many ordinations in my role at the Office of Worship. As I pray with the gathered community, I am in awe and grateful to God for the commitment of these men. Attendance to the ordination is by invitation only due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, you can view the ordination via livestream. I invite you to pray and rejoice with the Church of Galveston-Houston. Encourage your children to watch with you. Mark your calendars for 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 and 10 a.m. on Jan. 20 at www.archgh.org/live.
God bless these men as they begin to serve the Church as deacons. †

Sandra Higgins is the director of the Office of Worship.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the new dates of the two Mass of Ordinations to the Permanent Diaconate.