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Bishop Burbidge ordains six men to the permanent diaconate

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Bishop Michael F. Burbidge ordained six men to the permanent diaconate at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Feb. 20. Newly ordained Deacon Edward O. Devlin was assigned to St. Ambrose Church in Annandale, Deacon Mark R. Jerge to St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, Deacon Matthew K. Noah to St. Theresa Church in Ashburn, Deacon Richard C. Vossler to Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester, Deacon Michael J. Watts to Precious Blood Church in Culpeper and Deacon Aaron L. Zaccagnino to St. Jude Church in Fredericksburg. 

The families of the newly ordained deacons as well as priests and fellow deacons were present to witness the ordination at the cathedral. Hundreds of others watched via livestream. 

In his homily, Bishop Burbidge urged the six men to remain humble in carrying out their ministry. “In addition to your preaching and teaching, please never forget that charity is at the heart of the ministry of the deacon, in imitation of Christ who bowed to wash the feet of his disciples, who came not to be served but to serve,” he said. “In these days both in our nation and in our commonwealth, you need to bow in service to the unborn, the elderly and the most vulnerable. Bow in service to the Gospel of life.”

Meet the new permanent deacons 

After the homily, the soon-to-be deacons stood before Bishop Burbidge and promised to follow Christ's example in their ministry. One by one, they knelt before the Bishop and promised him obedience. The six men then prostrated themselves before the altar as the litany of saints was sung. Then, as they knelt again, Bishop Burbidge laid his hands on each of their heads. Next, he prayed the prayer of ordination over them. Each new deacon was vested in a stole and dalmatic by a deacon or priest friend. 

Unlike transitional deacons, permanent deacons are ordained clergy not on the path to priesthood. They may be married prior to ordination. Deacons can assist at the Mass by proclaiming the Gospel, giving the homily, serving at the altar and distributing Communion. Deacons may preside over funerals, witness weddings and perform baptisms. 

Deacon Jerge, a husband, father of five and parishioner of St. John the Baptist, was grateful he was ordained during the year of St. Joseph as proclaimed by Pope Francis. “I have a very big devotion to St. Joseph,” he said. “Who would’ve ever thought that here I would be ordained in this year, so to me, it’s just a gift,” he said.

Aaron L. Zaccagnino is vested with the help of Deacon Richard A. Cronican during the Mass of ordination at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Feb. 20. 


DO 80 VThe road to his ordination was a long journey, said Deacon Jerge. He began discerning a call at age 30. “I was discerning with my pastor who actually (vested) me, Father (Gerald) Weymes, but I was too young and (I had a) very young family and the diocese didn’t even have the diaconate (program) back then,” he said. “God put all things together 25 years later and here we are.”

Deacon Jerge said he felt joyful at the conclusion of the Mass. “I could probably sit here and cry for an hour if people would let me,” he said.

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To learn more about the permanent diaconate, go here

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021