Newly ordained permanent deacons celebrate ‘beginning of what is to come’

Bishop Louis Tylka is surrounded by the 20 permanent deacons he ordained Dec. 3 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. On his right is Msgr. Philip Halfacre, vicar general, and on his left is Msgr. Tim Nolan, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

In ordaining 20 permanent deacons for the Diocese of Peoria on Saturday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Bishop Louis Tylka asked them not to see the joy-filled liturgy as the culmination of more than five years of preparation, but rather “the beginning of what is to come” in their life of service.

“The world looks to you to see the reflection of Christ’s light and Christ’s life,” Bishop Tylka told the deacon candidates in a homily during the Rite of Ordination.

As part of the rite of ordination, the Litany of the Saints is sung as the deacon candidates prostrate themselves in the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Leading the prayer is cantor Carmen McCarthy. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“If you remember that you are ordained to serve, and not to be served, if you are faithful to share your mission with others, if you allow the Holy Spirit to be your helper and your guide, and if you allow Jesus to love you and to invite you to share that same love with others, then as co-workers in the vineyard your light will shine bright.

“Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine,” he repeated for emphasis.

The two hour, 15 minute Mass began with an opening procession lasting more than seven minutes as the deacon candidates entered the cathedral accompanied by their wives – 18 are married – and taking places in the first three pews. The procession also included nearly 20 altar servers and seminarians, about 50 deacons, 40 priests, a Knights of Columbus honor guard, and Bishop Tylka.

Bishop Emeritus Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who was chief shepherd when Deacon Class 11 began their formation, was present in the sanctuary and, with Bishop Tylka, prayed the rosary with the deacon candidates and their wives just prior to the ordination Mass.


The newly ordained deacons (with the names of their wives, who accompanied them through the formation years) and their parishes, include:

  • Deacon Jeffrey (Lynette) Brady, St. Jude, Peoria
  • Deacon Michael (Marie) Burge, Our Lady of the Lake, Mahomet
  • Deacon Mark (Gail) Bursott, Holy Family, Peoria
  • Deacon Terry (Amy) Dixon, St. Mark, Peoria
  • Deacon Thomas (Margaret) Dwyer, St. Mark, Peoria
  • Deacon Daniel (Jenny) Fandel, St. Mary of Lourdes, Germantown Hills
  • Deacon Richard (Kelly) Flavin, St. Mary of Lourdes, Germantown Hills
  • Deacon Daniel (Debbie) Froelich, St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington
  • Deacon Kevin (Susanna) Hernandez, Christ the King, Moline
  • Deacon John (Daphne) Louie, St. Mary, Downs
  • Deacon Matthew Martel, Sacred Heart, Moline
  • Deacon Marco (Alba) Martinez, St. Mary, Moline
  • Deacon Thomas (Debbie) Mattan, St. Malachy, Geneseo
  • Deacon Michael (Denise) Maynard, Sacred Heart, Moline
  • Deacon Troy (Teresa) Morris, St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington
  • Deacon Brian (Michelle) Reynolds, Heart of Peoria Catholic Community
  • Deacon David (Leanne) Schug, St. Matthew, Champaign
  • Deacon Curtis Theyse, St. Mary, Canton
  • Deacon Robert (Shauna) Thoene, St. Malachy, Geneseo
  • Deacon Raymond (Cecilia) White, St. Mary, Pontiac


The Rite of Ordination opened with the deacon candidates standing after being called by name, and then presented as a group for Bishop Tylka’s approval by Msgr. Tim Nolan, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate in the diocese. After their acceptance, the candidates turned to receive the enthusiastic applause from all in the packed cathedral. Because of the number of ordained, admittance was by ticket only, but the Mass was livestreamed (and is now archived) on the Diocese of Peoria’s Facebook and YouTube sites.

As he kneels before Bishop Louis Tylka, Kevin Hernandez of Christ the King Parish in Moline places his joined hands between those of the bishop and promises respect and obedience to Bishop Tylka and his successors.It was one of the key moments in the Mass for the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate on Dec. 3. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The rite continued with the deacons making a series of promises, including to “discharge with humble charity the office of the diaconate” and “to conform your manner of life always to the example of Christ.” One by one they came forward, knelt before Bishop Tylka, placed their joined hands between his hands, and promised “respect and obedience” to him and his successors. The 20 candidates then prostrated themselves on the sanctuary floor as the Litany of the Saints was chanted.

The new deacons would approach Bishop Tylka individually twice more. They knelt before him as the bishop laid his hands upon their head in prayer prior to the prayer of consecration. After being vested by priests or deacons they had chosen for that honor, the deacons returned to Bishop Tylka to place their hands on the Book of the Gospels.

The ordination rite concluded with Bishop Tylka and all permanent deacons present giving the newly ordained deacons individual greetings and an embrace of peace.


Bishop Tylka placed the deacons under the protective patronage of St. Stephen, one of the first deacons chosen by the apostles and the first Christian martyr, and St. Francis Xavier, on whose feast they were ordained. St. Francis Xavier was among the founding members of the Jesuits who reportedly baptized 30,000 people during mission journeys to India and Japan.

As Brian Reynolds of the Heart of Peoria Catholic Community kneels before him, Bishop Louis Tylka prays over him by laying his hand on the deacon candidate’s head. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Three times referring to the new deacons as “my sons,” Bishop Tylka said their ordination day “is a day of great joy.”

The diaconate is one of three ranks in ordained ministry. The others are priests and bishops. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are known as transitional deacons, while those not planning to be ordained priests are known as permanent deacons.

The 20 new permanent deacons bring the total number of permanent deacons serving the diocese to 134.

Bishop Tylka outlined their duties as including “assisting the bishop and priests in proclaiming and preaching the Word of God, preparing the sacrifice at the altar, distributing the most precious body and blood of Christ, presiding over public prayer, administering baptisms, assisting and blessing sacramental marriages, and conducting rites associated with burying the dead.”

But the “hallmark of your life,” he emphasized, “is the witness of charity,” and before any of these duties they must first be a disciple, demonstrating their love for Jesus.

Bishop Tylka thanked the deacons, their wives, families, Msgr. Nolan, and those who helped prepare them for ordination. He also expressed gratitude to the many ministers and musicians who had roles in the ordination Mass, which included selected readings and hymns in Spanish.

Songs of praise echoed through the cathedral, led by Jon Kroepel, diocesan director of sacred music, on organ, accompanied by the Pontifical Brass and the cathedral’s Spanish choir.

After posing for photographs, the new deacons and their families went to the Spalding Pastoral Center for a reception with light refreshments.

At the reception, Deacon Troy Morris told The Catholic Post the ordination Mass was the start of an eventful weekend. He was to preach the homily later that evening at St. Patrick Church of Merna in Bloomington. On Sunday, he was to preside at his first baptism — that of his 9-week-old first grandson, Fulton.

Deacon Morris and his wife Teresa agreed they were feeling “very blessed.”


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