Solemnity, smiles as three ordained transitional deacons by Bishop Tylka

Bishop Louis Tylka poses for a photo with the three seminarians he ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 20 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria. The new deacons are (from left) Johnathan (Jack) Swoik, Jacob Martini and Nicholas Conner. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

By Paul Thomas More l The Catholic Post

At the ordination Mass for Deacons Nicholas “Nick” Conner, Jacob Martini and Jonathan “Jack” Swoik on May 20 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, liturgical ritual could be seen in all its solemnity.

But there were also smiles — the smiles of the new deacons after the Rite of Ordination was complete, and those of many others, as well. Like a wedding, an ordination is an opportunity for family and community to come together in a public celebration of a very personal sacramental covenant.

Placing his joined hands between those of Bishop Louis Tylka, Jacob Martini promises obedience to him and his successors. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As in a wedding, there were a lot of “I do” responses. Perhaps the core “I do” came in answer to this question from Bishop Louis Tylka: “Do you resolve to discharge with humble charity the office of the diaconate, so as to assist the priestly order and to benefit the Christian people?”

Deacons meet the needs of the church by proclaiming and preaching the Word, preparing the altar for the sacrifice, distributing Communion, presiding over public prayer, baptizing, assisting at and blessing sacramental marriages, and conducting burial rites (as distinguished from the sacrament of the sick).

The second reading at the Mass noted deacons were to “serve at table” so that priests could devote themselves to prayer. Regarding any temptation to minimize the role of deacons, Bishop Tylka said they meet the community’s needs “not with menial tasks, but with hearts of charity and service.”

The transitional diaconate is intended as a step toward the priesthood, while permanent deacons remain in that role for life.


Father Patrick Henehan, diocesan vocation director of formation, formally presented the candidates to Bishop Tylka for ordination. Later, having accepted Father Henehan’s affirmation that the ordinands had been “found worthy,” Bishop Tylka spelled out in his homily how that worthiness might be put to the test.

Bishop Louis Tylka places his hands on the head of Nicholas Conner as he prays that the Lord would send the Holy Spirit upon him. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Speaking of Jesus’ charge to be “salt of the earth,” he said that despite their best efforts, sometimes it may appear “all you’ve done is provide salt to be trampled underfoot.” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Echoing the promises made on their behalf at baptism and renewed at confirmation, the ordinands then vowed fidelity to the faith, to be people of prayer, to conform their lives in the example of Christ, and as transitional deacons, to “embrace the celibate state . . . perpetually as a sign of the dedication of your life to Christ the Lord for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, in service to God and others.”

Finally, the ordinands went one by one to Bishop Tylka and kneeling, placed their joined hands between his as they promised obedience to him and his successors. The Litany of the Saints followed, as the candidates prostrated themselves on the floor of the cathedral sanctuary.

After offering the prayer of consecration, asking God to send the Holy Spirit upon them, Bishop Tylka completed the prayer — in silence — by the laying on of hands on the head of each.

The new deacons were then vested with dalmatics and stoles by priests they chose to honor for helping them follow their vocations. Freshly vested, they returned to the bishop to be clothed in the Word of God as the Book of Gospels was presented to them.


At various junctures during the ordination and at its conclusion, the assembly signaled their approval with applause. In response, Bishop Tylka thanked them for their support, and in particular the deacons’ families “for all you have done leading up to this moment.”

Newly ordained Deacon Jack Swoik is vested with his dalmatic by Father Chase Hilgenbrinck, diocesan vocation director for recruitment. (The Catholic Post/Paul Thomas Moore)

For one week, Nick, Jacob and Jack, as Bishop Tylka referred to them at one point in his homily, were to share the title of transitional deacon with Deacon Ignacio Cárdenas Morán, Deacon Daniel Dionesotes, Deacon Nathan Hopper, and Deacon Patrick Wille, who are scheduled to be ordained as priests on Saturday, May 27, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

As Bishop Tylka said to the new deacons, “By God’s grace, we will gather in a year’s time, here once again, to ordain you as priests of Jesus Christ.”

Before returning to Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, for their final year of studies, the new deacons — as befits the salt of the earth — have been given summer parish assignments sprinkled across the diocese. Deacon Nick Conner will serve in the Ottawa Catholic Community (St. Columba, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Patrick); Deacon Jacob Martini will serve at St. Mary in Moline; and Deacon Jack Swoik will serve in the Galesburg Catholic Community (Corpus Christi, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Patrick, all in Galesburg, and Sacred Heart in Abingdon).

EDITOR’S NOTE: To see more photos from the Mass for the Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate, see the album posted to The Catholic Post’s Facebook page on May 20.

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