From Southern Cross:
The high school coach tried to stop himself from crying but the tears made their way down his cheeks despite his efforts. Newly ordained permanent deacon Kevin Knight, upon leaving the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist, Savannah following the completion of Ordination to the Order of the Diaconate Saturday, May 30, had to do whatever he could “to not cry in front of my guys,” he said later on. Dozens of student-athletes held a sign that read “Congratulations Coach Knight” on the sidewalk below the church steps. The surprise he and his wife witnessed was one for the ages. “I had no clue,” said Knight, one of 14 men ordained that morning. “That was great to see that level of support from [them]. It’s been a long journey and I’m happy about how everything turned out.”
Of the 14, a pair were ordained as transitional deacons, Christopher Awiliba and Emmanuel Kyere Antwi, and a dozen more candidates for the permanent diaconate took the next step in what has been a long journey, Benjamin Ernst, Robert Fritts, Mark Girardeau, John Johnson, Knight, Keith Liner, Orlando Lopez-Camuy, Terrence Mermann, Mario Rabusin, DeWayne Tillman, Hoang Tran and Eric Windmoller.
With family, friends, priests and fellow deacons from across the diocese in attendance, the Diaconate class of 2020 went through the orders of the day beginning with a greeting from Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., who was in town for the ordination. Father Daniel Firmin greeted the former diocesan bishop back. “It is always good to see you and we welcome you back to Savannah,” said Firmin, who is currently the diocesan administrator.
“Good morning, it’s so good to see human beings back in church again,” joked Hartmayer, who added that Awiliba and Antwi were now speaking “southern” after their time living and studying in Savannah after having moved here from their native Ghana.
Hartmayer’s homily made mention of the challenges all 14 deacons face in their new roles as stewards to the communities they are preparing to serve. “We are faced with the same challenges, the prejudice, the profiling, and we have to make them feel welcome,” said Hartmayer. “It is often the deacons that have to make them aware.”
Read on. Welcome, brothers, and congratulations! Ad multos annos!
However, not long after there was this development:
After reopening the Dioceses of Savannah last week, one person attending an annual ceremony Saturday tested positive for COVID-19.
“It is frustrating,” said Reverend Daniel Firmin, administrator for the Diocese of Savannah. “But it’s not going to dissuade us.”
Several pastors, deacons and church leaders were at the Diaconate Ordination ceremony at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist where they made special accommodations because of COVID-19. It wasn’t until after the ceremony they learned of the positive coronavirus case in a deacon and they quickly contacted the Coastal Health District.
“It wasn’t open to the public, it was an invitation only event,” explained Reverend Firmin. “So we were able to know everyone who was there. We actually had seating charts and there was space throughout the cathedral. We took every precaution that we needed plenty of hand sanitizer, rerouted the way we distributed communion even. We knew everyone who was there everyone has been notified and so we’re covering all our bases in that way.”
Another report notes:
According to an advisory issued by the Diocese of Savannah, the person was seated with the ordained permanent deacons. He received a call immediately after the ceremony from the Department of Health advising him that he had tested positive.
The Diocese says that every person who was at the ordination has been notified, and anyone who thinks they may be infected has quarantined themselves and has been tested.
“Significant precautions were taken before, during and after the ceremony to mitigate the risk to anyone in attendance,” the advisory said. “This person is not believed to have come in direct contact with anyone during the rite. Those who were in close contact with the individual in the days prior to Saturday have already been contacted by the Health Department and are scheduled for tests.”