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Advice to future deacons: Allow Christ to carry you

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge welcomed 11 men who are in the process of becoming permanent deacons during Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Feb. 9. 

“Dear brothers soon to be admitted as acolytes and those who will be received as candidates, we can only carry Jesus to others to the extent that we allow him to carry us,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily.

The six men instituted as acolytes were Edward O. Devlin, Mark R. Jerge, Matthew K. Noah, Richard C. Vossler, Michael J. Watts and Aaron L. Zaccagnino. The five men admitted as candidates were Linus J. Barloon II, Marvin J. Muhat, Robin W. Sardegna, Mark S. Sobczynski and Mark. C. Voorheis.

Related: The permanent diaconate at 50

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge gave St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests whose relic was recently on display at the Basilica of St. Mary in Alexandria, as an example of one who allowed Jesus to carry him by recounting a moment near the end of the saint’s life. During his last Corpus Christi procession, due to illness, he could only carry the monstrance from the back of the church to the altar as opposed to his usual two-hour procession.

“On the return to the sacristy someone said to him, ‘You must be very tired.’ But he responded, ‘No. No. The one I carried is actually the one who carried me,’” Bishop Burbidge said.

Jerge, one of the acolytes and a parishioner of St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, reflected on this commitment to trusting in God’s assistance. 

“I am trusting that God will support me and help me make it through the next few years to ordination day,” Jerge said. “And having the support of the five other acolytes who are on this journey with me really, really helps as well.” 

Related: Meet permanent deacons in the Diocese of Arlington

Muhat, a diaconate candidate and parishioner of St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax, expressed his gratitude as well.

“This has just been a wonderful day to be officially welcomed in to the program. I just feel blessed to be in fellowship with others who are on a similar path as I am on,” Muhat said.

Father Paul D. Scalia, episcopal vicar for clergy and director of the permanent diaconate, Father Thomas P. Ferguson, vicar general, Father Robert J. Rippy and other clergy concelebrated the Mass. The permanent deacons currently serving in the diocese were also present at the Mass.

A reception for the 11 men and their families followed in Burke Hall.   

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019