May 25, 2016 // Uncategorized

Diocese celebrates two new deacons

By Stephanie A. Patka

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FORT WAYNE — Diocesan seminarians, Eric Burgener of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Fort Wayne and Dennis Di Benedetto of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne, were ordained to the diaconate Saturday, May 21, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

A nearly full cathedral included the celebrant Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, concelebrating diocesan priests and visiting priests, diocesan deacons and seminarians, Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and area Knights of Columbus. Also attending the joyful celebration were members of several religious congregations as well as parents, families and friends of the two candidates.

The Rite of Ordination during the Mass begins after the Gospel, whereby each man is formally chosen for ordination. Father Andrew Budzinski, vocations director, publicly attested to the worthiness of each of the “elect” and presented both men to Bishop Rhoades.

After the homily, Burgener and Di Benedetto declared their promises to assume the responsibility of the office of deacon. These promises included celibacy and respect and obedience to Bishop Rhoades and his successors. Cantors from the Cathedral Choir sang the litany of saints while the elect lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor of the cathedral in front of the altar.

After the litany and in silence, Bishop Rhoades laid his hands on the head of each  of the elect in accordance with the apostolic tradition and then solemnly recited the Prayer of Ordination. Afterwards, each newly ordained deacon was vested with the diaconal stole and dalmatic. Bishop Rhoades then handed now Deacon Burgener and Deacon Di Benedetto the Book of the Gospels. The handing on of the Book of the Gospels symbolizes their task 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 deacons into their ministry. The other deacons present also welcomed the newly ordained in this fashion.

In Bishop Rhoades’ homily, he recalled last Sunday’s celebration of the feast of Pentecost and likened the cathedral to the upper room in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. “Today at this ordination, a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit will take place as Dennis and Eric are strengthened by the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit for the faithful carrying out of the diaconal ministry.”

Bishop Rhoades also spoke to the free will of Dennis and Eric as they promised celibacy, respect and obedience, which is “radically countercultural in society today.” He used the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, “‘We are fools for the sake of Christ.”  Paul wrote: “Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.’”

Bishop Rhoades commended the motivation of love behind Eric and Dennis to follow this life. “True love can make one do things that seem crazy in the eyes of the world, like hang in agony on a cross. That’s Christianity!  Only love — love for Christ and His Church — can explain the free choice of celibacy and obedience.  And only this love can explain why Dennis and Eric give their lives today to the service of Christ and His Church.” The Bishop went on to say that the call to the diaconate was ambitious, but not in a sinful way. But rather in an authentically Christian way: ambitious to serve and be signs and instruments of Christ, who Himself came to serve.

As deacons, Dennis and Eric are called to a threefold diakonia or service: that of the Word, of the altar, and of charity. Bishop Rhoades encouraged them to be “true evangelizers who speak of the God whom they themselves have come to know and are familiar with.” Deacons also serve as ministers of the altar by preparing the Eucharistic sacrifice and distributing the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful.  They preside over public prayer, administer Baptism, assist at and bless Marriages, bring Viaticum to the dying and conduct funeral rites.

Finally, deacons are entrusted in a special way with the ministry of charity: the ministry that is at the origin of the institution of the diaconate. Bishop Rhoades emphasized the critical call that deacons have to “bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted, like the Good Samaritan, pouring the wine and oil of God’s merciful compassion into the wounds of those who lie beaten along the road of life today.” He continued, “Eric and Dennis, may your hearts, like the Sacred Heart of Jesus, have a special place for the poor and suffering!  Your diaconal ministry of charity is not optional.  It is an essential part of ordained ministry in the Church because it was an essential part of the ministry of Christ the deacon and priest.”

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