Dressed in white and positioned between his mother and father, Tony Killian began Saturday’s diaconate ordination Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington as a member of one family and ended it as a member of another.
Standing in the front row, hands pressed together in a perfect steeple, Killian was surrounded by his immediate family in an orb of support, until, following the Liturgy of the Word, he was summoned forward to the altar by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.
The physical shift in location represented the beginning of the shift in families.
“He’s part of his family until he’s called from them to service to the Church,” said Father Paul deLadurantaye, director of the Office of Sacred Liturgy and Catechetics.
While Killian, 44, will always be the son of Anthony and Barbara and brother to sisters Barbara and Ellen, the ceremony last weekend welcomed him into his new family of deacons and placed him one step closer to ordination to the priesthood.
In a sign of solidarity, a long line of deacons embraced Killian during Mass. Deacons bring “added joy and support to all of us,” Bishop Loverde said to the crowd of gathered servants, “but especially your newest member.”
That vocations are born in families is a favorite mantra of Bishop Loverde, and Killian, raised in a Catholic household, is no exception to the rule. To the new deacon’s immediate family, the bishop referred to Killian as a gift from them to both the Arlington Diocese and the Church.
Anthony said that his son’s character and spirituality as a child had given him an inclination of Killian’s eventual religious path.
“I’m happy for my son. I’m happy for the Church,” Anthony said. “There’s nothing that I can say that isn’t good.”
After Killian professed his vows, he was vested in a robe of cream and gold by Father Ramon Baez, parochial vicar at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Falls Church, a personal friend, and according to Killian, a “really, really strong witness to the priesthood.”
Father Baez, himself only ordained in 2005, said he was “floored” when Killian asked him to do the vesting.
“You never know what kind of effect you have on people,” he said.
Killian himself is an example to others, said John Bayer, Killian’s godfather, who flew in from El Paso, Texas, to support his godson.
“He’s an example of the later vocation, where you have a different career and God calls you and this time you listen,” said Bayer, who referred to Killian’s 15 years of government work before entering Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Bayer said he had always known that Killian was a good Christian man who was very active in his faith.
“He really lives his faith,” agreed sister Barbara Lamblin, who brought all her children to the ordination, some of whom are Killian’s godchildren. Lamblin, who Killian said in an earlier interview had been a large source of support during his discernment, said that Killian had undergone a metamorphosis since he had entered the seminary.
“He’s kind of like a new person,” she said. “We’re very excited, we’re very thrilled. We feel very blessed.”
Effective June 27, Deacon Killian will begin serving at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Alexandria. For a more in-depth profile on the new deacon, go to www.catholicherald.com.