24 permanent, 2 transitional deacons are ordained; ready to serve with love, joy

The 24 new permanent deacons who will serve the Diocese of Peoria surround Bishop Jenky in the sanctuary of St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria after the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate on May 20. Kneeling next to him are Ryan Mattingly (left) and Andru O'Brien (right), who were ordained transitional deacons and will now begin their final preparation for ordination to the priesthood next May. Also joining the group were diocesan officials including Msgr. Timothy Nolan, Msgr. James Kruse, Msgr. Paul Showalter, Father Patrick Henehan and Father Timothy Hepner. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Calling it “a profound moment of renewal in the life of our local church,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, ordained 24 men as permanent deacons and two as transitional deacons during a more than two-hour Mass on May 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria.

With family members and friends filling every seating space — including in balconies and on folding chairs set up throughout the Lady Chapel — the deacon candidates entered the cathedral during a processional that included more than 75 permanent deacons; dozens of priests; Abbot Philip Davey, OSB, of St. Bede Abbey; and Bishop Jenky.

Deacon candidates prostrate themselves on the cathedral floor as the assembly seeks help from heaven as they chant the Litany of the Saints. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The candidates took places along the center aisle at the end of pews reserved for their families.

As the Rite of Ordination began following the Gospel reading, the candidates stood and answered “Present” as their names were called by Deacon Bob Sondag, diocesan vice chancellor.

Msgr. Timothy Nolan, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate, then presented the candidates to Bishop Jenky.  The bishop’s acceptance of the candidates was followed by nearly a minute of robust applause from the assembly.

In his homily, Bishop Jenky called on the new deacons to “do the will of God from the heart” and to “serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord” as they take on new duties in the ministries of the Word, the altar and of charity. The new deacons may now, for example, administer baptisms, assist at marriage ceremonies, and bring viaticum to the dying.

Because of the number of ordinations, the rite took nearly an hour as the candidates came forward to promise obedience to the bishop, kneel before him as he laid his hands upon their head invoking the Holy Spirit, receive from him the Book of the Gospels, exchange embraces of peace with the deacons and priests present, and put on liturgical vestments for the first time, assisted by a priest or deacon of their choice.

 EMOTIONALLY MOVING, SPIRITUALLY UPLIFTING

The ordination capped five years of preparation by the permanent deacons, members of the diocese’s 10th class since 1976, and signaled the final year of preparation for priestly ordination for the transitional deacons — seminarians Ryan Mattingly and Andru O’Brien.

The new permanent deacons, from 22 different parishes, include Robb Caputo, Robert DePauw, Hector Diaz, Michael Driscoll, Michael Evers, Michael Harris, Mark Jackson, Joseph Knapp, John Kusek, Faustino Lopez, Guadalupe Lopez, Wendell Lowry II, Albert Lundy, Edmund Mallow Jr., Thomas Mann, Joseph McCleary, Daniel Moffitt, Anthony Nickrent, Daniel O’Connor, Marshall Plumley, Mark Scamp, Michael Sigwalt, Ronald Wackerlin, and Todd Weber. Brief biographies of the deacon class were published in the May 7 issue of The Catholic Post.

The ordination Mass was emotionally moving and spiritually uplifting, according to deacons interviewed at a reception that followed the liturgy at the Spalding Pastoral Center.

“OUR CLASS IS VERY CLOSE”

“At the very first song I was getting emotional,” said Deacon Michael Sigwalt of St. Malachy Parish in Geneseo.  Last year, he underwent treatment for cancer at the base of his tongue, could barely speak, and wondered if he would be able to see this day after missing several months of study with his classmates and their spouses.

As part of the ordination rite, Bishop Jenky lays his hands on Ed Mallow’s head and prays for the blessing of the Holy Spirit. Deacon Mallow will serve at St. Thomas the Apostle in Peoria Heights. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“The diocese worked beautifully getting me caught back up,” he said, adding his cancer is in remission, he is doing well, and is looking forward to officiating at the marriage of his son Thomas in November.

His wife, Barbara, said the five years of preparation “went by in a blink.”

“We made such good friends,” she said. “Our class is very close.”

Deacon Albert Lundy of Holy Trinity Parish, Bloomington, echoed that thought, saying the only downside to ordination day was “saying goodbye to so many good friends.”

“We won’t see a lot of our classmates more than once or twice a year now after spending five years together,” he said.

Around his neck, Deacon Lundy wore a Crusaders cross that once belonged to his father, Albert Sr., a permanent deacon for the Archdiocese of Chicago who died in 2003. His father was ordained 25 years ago the same weekend.

Deacon Lundy said the ordination Mass was “spectacular” and that because the class was so well-prepared he was able to relax and experience “the prayers washing over us and the music washing over us.” That music was provided by a combined choir that included representatives from several parishes under the direction of Greg Eztel, diocesan director of sacred music.

Asked what he was thinking about as he lay prostrate on the sanctuary floor during the ordination Mass, Deacon Wendell Lowry III of Holy Family Parish in Lincoln, paused before saying quietly, “My Dad.”

“My Dad was a very holy man,” said Deacon Lowry. “He died two years ago. I was thinking of the love of God he instilled in me and my brothers and sister.”

As the Mass came to an end, Bishop Jenky led sustained applause for Msgr. Nolan and Sister Diane Vande Voorde, OSF, of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate for their efforts in preparing the deacons for ordination. He then invited the new deacons’ wives and parents to also stand for another round of applause.

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the Mass of Ordination have been posted to The Catholic Post’s Facebook site. 

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