New transitional deacons ordained

The jubilant notes of "Lift High the Cross" rose to the top of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington June 4, marking the beginning of this year's diaconate ordination Mass. Diaconate candidates Stephen Vaccaro and Jordan Willard waited in anticipation as they stood with their families in the church pews during the opening procession. This year Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori celebrated the ordination Mass for Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who is recovering from recent back surgery.

After the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, Archbishop Lori proceeded with the Rite of Ordination. He asked Father Joel D. Jaffe, vocations director, if he found the men worthy of the diaconate. Father Jaffe's affirmation that he did was echoed by the large group of family, friends and religious in the cathedral, who responded with enthusiastic applause.

"Today, Stephen and Jordan, you take a decisive step toward the priesthood," said Archbishop Lori. "God chose the sons of Levi to present themselves to Aaron, the priest, to assist in that

worship, which God had commanded the Israelites to offer Him. The sons of Levi are your spiritual ancestors, for you are also called to assist bishops and priests in leading the worship of the New Covenant." He explained that the station of deacon is deeply etched in salvation history and how in the New Testament the apostles chose seven men of good repute to carry out the church's ministry of charity. He encouraged them to commit to prayer and grow in the conviction that Christ lives in them in a way that can help them give themselves to others in loving service.

"Let the words of Our Savior penetrate the recesses of your hearts today and always," said Archbishop Lori.

Following the homily, both Vaccaro and Willard proclaimed their promise to discharge the office of deacon with humility and love while also giving their promise of obedience while kneeling before the archbishop. As the faithful sang the litany, the candidates prostrated themselves in front of the altar, an ancient gesture of supplication and the dying to self.

They received the essential elements of the sacrament when they each approached Archbishop Lori, who laid his hands on their heads and prayed the prayer of the ordination.

At the closing of the Mass, Archbishop Lori expressed his joy for being able to present the diocese with its new deacons. He also announced that while Bishop Loverde might not have been with them at the ordination Mass, the bishop was still close to them and had offered Mass for the two men at 11a.m.

The families of the two new deacons beamed with happiness and pride after Mass. Both Deacons Vaccaro and Willard will assist the diocese this summer and will continue their studies in the fall at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, with the hope of one day being ordained to the priesthood.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016