FORT WAYNE — “With joy and thanksgiving, we have gathered to celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Christopher Lapp as he enters the Order of the Diaconate through the sacrament of Holy Orders,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said as he opened his homily at the ordination Mass.
Bishop Rhoades ordained Christopher R. Lapp to the order of the diaconate on May 12 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne. He will minister for a year as a deacon before his ordination to the Priesthood on June 1, 2013.
Bishop Rhoades spoke about the divine initiative, as spoken by the Lord to the Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”
“Today, Chris makes that response,” Bishop Rhoades said. “With faith, he says ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call. He trusts in the Lord’s words to Jeremiah: ‘To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you.’ With confidence in the Lord and His grace, Chris comes forward to be consecrated for the Church’s ministry, to be ordained a deacon, a minister of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Rhoades spoke of celibacy, which the deacon embraces. “The celibate life is a sacrifice and involves renunciation, yet it is also a means to embrace life fully. Compelled by the sincere love of Christ and living this state with total dedication, Chris will cling to Christ more easily with an undivided heart. Celibacy frees Chris more completely for the service of God and others,” Bishop Rhoades said.
Deacons are called to be servants of the liberating truth of the Gospel. “They are to be filled with the conviction and spirit of St. Paul who wrote to the Corinthians: ‘We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus,’” Bishop Rhoades said.
“Notice how Paul did not direct attention to himself as a savior figure, nor did he promote himself or his own advantage,” Bishop Rhoades added. “He preached Jesus Christ as Lord and only preached himself as a slave for the sake of Jesus. These are strong words. To be a slave means to belong to someone else and to live one’s life in humble service. Chris, like St. Paul, knows that he belongs to someone else, to Jesus Christ.”
The humble, self-giving love those ordained are called to live is an imitation of Jesus who came “not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many,” Bishop Rhoades quoted.
He spoke of the heart of diaconal spirituality. “The service of the deacon in the Church is threefold: the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity,” Bishop Rhoades said. “These ministries are all interconnected. In preaching Jesus Christ as Lord, in serving at the altar and in serving God’s people with charity, the deacon is living the configuration to Christ the Servant that takes place in ordination.”
“You will teach and serve in a society and culture that desperately needs the liberating Truth of the Gospel. You will teach and serve the Gospel of life in a society where the culture of death continues to spread. May you be filled with zeal for the new evangelization,” Bishop Rhoades said.
“I also encourage you to be close to the poor and needy, like the early deacon saints of the Church, remembering that the poor need not only our material help, but also the hope of the Gospel,” he added.
Bishop Rhoades also encouraged the candidate to be “a man of prayer who lives each day in communion and friendship with Jesus, embracing His Gospel as your daily rule of life.”
The Rite of Ordination itself is rich with meaning and symbolism. After the chanting of the Gospel, came the Election of the Candidate, whereby the candidate is formally chosen for ordination and becomes referred to as the elect. The candidate was presented to the bishop by Father Jacob Runyon, parochial vicar of St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend and associate vocation director. Father Runyon testified to his worthiness, after which Bishop Rhoades formally accepted Lapp to be ordained as deacon.
After the homily, the elect declared his intention to assume the responsibility of the office of deacon, and promised obedience and respect to Bishop Rhoades and his successors. During the Litany of Supplication, the candidate laid prostrate on the sanctuary floor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception while the intercession of the Saints and Angels was invoked.
After the litany, Bishop Rhoades laid his hands on the head of the elect in accordance with the apostolic tradition. Then, with the elect kneeling and with hands outstretched, Bishop Rhoades solemnly recited the Prayer of Ordination.
The newly ordained was then invested with the stole and dalmatic — the proper liturgical attire of the diaconate. He were also handed the Book of the Gospels, symbolizing the task of the deacon to proclaim the Gospel in liturgical celebrations and to preach the faith of the Church in word and deed.
Bishop Rhoades then bestowed the traditional liturgical gesture known as the fraternal kiss of peace, and thereby welcomed the new deacon into their ministry. The other deacons present also welcomed the newly ordained.
After the diaconate ordination Mass, family and friends gathered to congratulate the newest deacon in the diocese. Deacon Lapp was rendered nearly speechless and said he was “overwhelmed.” His father Greg was equally overwhelmed with the ordination ceremony and said, “It was awesome! I was raised Catholic and love the Church and all the tradition.”
Deacon Lapp’s grandmother, Dorothy Van Auken was overjoyed to have witnessed her first diaconate ordination and said, “It was fabulous. I am so proud of Chris.” Brother Josh added, “He’ll be great at it (being a priest) because he’s a great leader.”
Mom Juli spoke with a mother’s heart of the change she has witnessed in her son, “He’s still your kid, but he is much more devoted and holy.” Of her son’s future she said, “He is a leader and a servant.”
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