‘I can’t wait’ to serve

After a year of diaconate service at Blessed Sacrament Parish, Deacon Tony Killian is ready to embrace the sacrament of holy orders at ordination at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington this Saturday.

It's been a busy year for the deacon, who has spent his time at the Alexandria parish helping Father John Cregan, pastor, by preaching at weekend liturgies, visiting the sick and homebound, and being present for adoration and benediction.

As he ministered to the community, Deacon Killian gained an appreciation for the "great need" for ministry in nursing homes, and spent time visiting the elderly and dying, presiding over Communion services and accompanying priests as they celebrated Masses. He served during burials and had ample time to practice his preaching - usually at least once every Sunday.

"You only get to be an effective preacher by actually preachin`g and then listening to good preaching," Deacon Killian said.

Father Cregan said that it's beneficial for a deacon to be exposed to all the activities in a thriving parish, and that Deacon Killian's presence was a positive influence at Blessed Sacrament.

"He was a real asset to us and just a joy to have in the rectory," Father Cregan said. "It was a good year for him and for us."

Now that his diaconate year is behind him and the priesthood is on the horizon, Deacon Killian is ready to be ordained - and he feels no apprehension whatsoever about his choice.

"If anything this year has solidified my desire to serve the people of God in Arlington and do what I can to help them on this journey that hopefully, for all of us, will end in eternal life," he said. "That's really what the name of the game is: Life with the Lord."

The deacon currently is poring over the details of the first Mass he will celebrate - to be offered the day after ordination, June 15, at his home parish of St. Lawrence in Springfield.

"I can't wait for that," he said, adding that he will use a chalice that belonged to a late priest for whom the deacon used to serve Mass. That was back when Deacon Killian was just a kid serving at the altar of St. Matthew Parish in Philadelphia.

He later attended Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (now De Sales University) in Center Valley, Pa., and worked for the government for many years before realizing he was being called to the priesthood.

In 2002, he entered Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. While there, surrounded by other men preparing for the priesthood, Deacon Killian felt a "great sense of happiness for the Church and for the men themselves."

Even before he entered the seminary, Deacon Killian was influenced by the example of now-Father Ramon Baez, parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church, who Deacon Killian knew through St. Lawrence.

"Deacon Tony is really a man of deep faith," Father Baez said. "He can be a great bridge between Jesus Christ and the people of God."

Father Baez said that his friend's maturity level, patience and cheerfulness will all contribute to his success in the priesthood.

"It's so important, when you're a priest, to always try to reflect the face of Christ to other people," he said. "Tony can really bring that message. It's a great joy to finally be able to call him a brother priest."

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde will ordain Deacon Killian, along with two other men, on June 14 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington at 11 a.m.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2008