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Bishop Burbidge ordains six new deacons

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A native of Colombia, two former Navy officers, a sales executive, a principal and an unmarried man joined the ranks of close to 90 deacons in the Arlington Diocese when they were ordained permanent deacons Jan. 14 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

The church filled early with family and friends, some coming from as far away as Colombia. Family members described the journey of the deacons as a natural progression.

The six new deacons are: Gerard-Marie Anthony, assigned to St. Timothy Church in Chantilly; Orlando J. Barros, assigned to All Saints Church in Manassas; Thomas L. Grodek, assigned to Holy Spirit Church in Annandale; Mark R. Maines, assigned to Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Winchester; Michael J. O’Neil, assigned to Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria; and Timothy H. Slayter, assigned to Sacred Heart Church in Manassas.

Father Paul D. Scalia, episcopal vicar for clergy and diocesan director of the diaconate formation program, described the deacons as a tight-knit group.

Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the ordination Mass. Concelebrating were retired Bishop Paul S. Loverde, diocesan priests and priest friends of the ordinandi.

In his brief conversations with the newly ordained deacons, Bishop Burbidge said he knows how grateful they are to their families, friends, Bishop Loverde and others.

“Most especially, I know how grateful you are to God, the One who has chosen you, the One who has called you,” he said. “We pray that with God’s grace you will be faithful to the promises of ordination.”

Bishop Burbidge asked the deacons to promise to respect and obey him and his successors.

“You know, as you soon will acknowledge, that you can only be faithful with the help that comes from God,” he said.

The ordination of these new deacons brings additional help to the bishop, priests and other deacons.

“We have six more men to collaborate with the bishop in serving the people of God,” said Father Scalia. “For deacons it means more assistance in proclaiming the Gospel, in serving at the altar and doing charitable works in the diocese and taking leadership in the charitable works.”

Examples of charitable works include prison ministry, assisting at Christ House, reaching out to homebound parishioners and those in nursing homes.

“Coming to this point, the deacons feel supported by their parishes, and in turn, once the deacons begin their ministry the parishioners will experience the support and encouragement by the deacons,” Father Scalia said.

The children of the deacons expressed pride in their fathers.

“I am happy to see my dad find joy and purpose in this,” said Mariana Barros, daughter of Deacon Barros.

Barros’ sisters Diana and Mariam flew in from Chicago and Colombia, respectively, to witness their brother’s ordination.

“Through Orlando we are going to feel blessed and represented in front of God,” said Mariam Barros, in Spanish, translated by Mariana.

Diana said their mother introduced her family to the Legion of Mary. She now realizes how important it was for Orlando and his future as he began to listen to the call. She said the family is so proud of him.    

Gwen Anthony, mother of Deacon Anthony, said her son has wanted to do this since middle school. “It’s wonderful to know he achieved this state in life,” she said.

Deacon Anthony’s twin brother, Gerald, agrees. “It’s a natural process for us,” he said. “He’s had this call since we were teens and we support him through the natural progressions of his life.”

Noah Slayter, 14, attended one of his father’s last diaconate preparation classes and said the men were sad their classes were ending.

“It will be interesting to see how they stay connected,” he said.

There are 13 more men in formation for the diocese. Chris Galvin, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, said it is amazing to see how the men, including her husband scheduled to be ordained in 2019, have grown together in their faith. She said the class is very close and her husband calls them brothers.

“These men have been well-prepared by their instructors and have done very well in the program, and they bring a lot of natural talents that will now be more fully at the service of the church,” said Father Scalia.

Deacon Slayter said he felt God was with the deacons during the ordination, and he could feel the love and prayers of everyone present. His wife, Stephanie, said the experience brought them closer together as a family.

Deacon Maines said he couldn’t wait to get started serving the people.

“I was really peaceful and I felt the Holy Spirit coming upon me,” he said.  

To buy photos from the ordination Mass go to catholicherald.smugmug.com.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017