Fourteen years ago, May 19, 2007, I was one of those walking into the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn, to be ordained a deacon by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
Of course, I would not have made it to that day, or the many that have followed, without my wife walking beside me — usually praying for her pathetic husband. The day after my ordination, as we were lining up for the processional for the Mass of Thanksgiving and I stood there nervously clutching the Book of the Gospels, waiting to begin, my pastor Msgr. Joe Funaro said, “Deacon, Siobhain should walk next to you.” And so she did. Then at the end of Mass, as the music swelled and the congregation clapped, I walked down the aisle of the church and extended my hand to Siobhain in the first pew and she grabbed hold of it and joined me in the aisle. We walked out together. And so the adventure began.
You who ordered the universe
have also ordained the universe.
You have ordained that the stars follow their course,
that the seasons follow your plan,
that the oceans and tides obey your rhythms.
And now you have ordained us in your service, as deacons.
Make of us instruments of your holy will —
rinse away the useless clay, and leave behind new creations,
polished at your wheel, shaped by your fingers,
dried in the warmth of your gaze.
In the boundless mercy and love with which you have formed us,
guide us with your Spirit,
so that we might complete the work you have begun.
Let us always remember that we have been ordained to serve,
and not to be served,
to build up, not to tear down,
to preach, to teach, and to believe.
Help us to proclaim the Gospel with the fervor of your greatest deacons:
as fearlessly as Stephen,
as compassionately as Lawrence
and as joyfully as Francis of Assisi.
Make our lives models of Christ the servant,
that we may love others as he did,
and always see him in those we meet,
even in the distressing disguise of the poor, the sick, the lonely or the lost.
Let our words be your Word,
our actions, your actions.
Make our hands your hands,
outstretched, to carry and comfort, to baptize and bless.
Grant us the grace to be worthy of the work we are beginning,
so that we may one day worship you in your sanctuary,
serving in eternal joy at your table.
We ask this through the First Servant and First Deacon,
our brother, Christ the Lord.
— From A Deacon Prays (Ave Maria Press)