I’m not sure what the history is for deaconate ordinations, but we surely hit a ‘hight water’ mark today as we ordained sixteen men for service as permanent deacons! I’m sure photos will follow. The homily is below.
This class of men for some time now have developed quite a reputation for their great quality. The many professors and others who have worked with them in their years of formation always have great and positive things to say on their behalf. I must say, I am in complete agreement. The Church of the Diocese of Cheyenne was truly blessed today in calling these men to the ‘ministry of charity.’
Equally impressive are the wives of these new deacons. They have been supportively with them and for them. It was with no small amount of emotion as these women carried the new deacon vestments down the center aisle of church for the vesting rite in the ordination. We are truly grateful to these wives and their families for sharing the husbands and fathers with the Church.
After the celebration, and reception that followed, there was one more ‘milestone’ to mark the day. Today, Father James Doudican, a priest of the Diocese, celebrated his 95th birthday. He continues to assist the pastor and the people of Holy Trinity parish here in Cheyenne. It is only recently that he discontinued offering Mass at the local Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Cheyenne. His eyes still twinkle and he is always ready with a story and or a joke.
Happy Birthday, Fr. Doudican!
Tomorrow, we will ordain Rev. Mr. Louis Shea a priest for the Diocese of Cheyenne. God is good!
Deacon Ordinations Homily
As we prepare to reflect upon God’s WORD and the meaning of the Sacrament of Holy Orders as lived by permanent deacons, I wish to first welcome all of you to our Cathedral. In a special way, we welcome Fr. Julian Peters, O.S.B. from St. Meinrad. The formation program that formed this class of deacons is just one of the offerings of St. Meinrad Seminary. Fr. Julian, we are grateful for the work of St. Meinrad, and grateful that you could join us for this celebration today.
We wish in a very special way to welcome the wives and family members of our deacon class. The wives of permanent deacons play significant roles in both the discernment of this call as well as in the formation process. It is one more beautiful manifestation of how in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, the two truly do become one flesh. To you, especially, ladies, I wish to express our profound gratitude as the diocese of Cheyenne for sharing your husbands with this local church for the life of service they freely embrace today. I also wish to thank you and your children in advance for your continued support of these men in their generous service of the Church.
The readings chosen for today’s celebration give clear indications of the life and ministry of permanent deacons. First, my sons, as with all Christians, your lives are to be built upon the very life of Christ. This is what Jesus intends when he invites us to ‘Remain in his love.’ For your lives to be fruitful, you must first be open to receive the precious gift of Christ’s redeeming love, and just as open and generous in sharing that love in the midst of your ministry as deacons. The ministry of the deacon is primarily the ministry of ‘charity’, which has its origins in the very love shared between the Father and the Son and poured out upon the Church in the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In the celebration of every Eucharist, which is the heart and soul of the Church, the deacon has distinct roles to play, and these liturgical duties define the life he is to live outside of the Mass. Here I wish to make a very clear point. The life that the Eucharist nourishes in each of us is to be coherently lived in every and all aspects of our daily life. The life that the Eucharist nourishes in each of us is nothing less than divine life, the life of faith, the life shared between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
There is no ‘compartmentalizing’ this life of faith. It is either alive and flourishing, or is diminishing and dying.
So, my brothers, you are to first live a coherent faith life, so as to be able to effectively enflame the faith in the lives of others. This is a great challenge for the Church today. This is a great challenge which you as deacons are to embrace, and that is to help the People of God not only know the basic tenants of the faith, but to live it fully and freely in their daily lives.
This is a great gift that you as deacons bring to the Church. Many of you continue to work and live in the midst of the world. It is precisely in the midst of your daily life, as husbands and fathers, as co-workers and volunteers that you are to lead others to the Truth of the Gospel. This Truth has a name, and he is Jesus Christ.
This is one of the roles of the Deacon during the Eucharist, to carry the Book of the Gospels; to enthrone the Book of the Gospels; to proclaim the Truth of the Gospel. My dear brothers, our world our Church, needs you in your person to carry the Book of the Gospels, to enthrone the Book of the Gospels, to proclaim the Gospel by lives of charity and service. As Deacons, your lives are to be a proclamation that the Word of God is alive. The WORD became flesh in the person of Jesus to take up a dwelling place in the world as the fullest revelation of God in the midst of His people. Through the Living Word, through the Church, the same Jesus takes up his dwelling place in you and me that we may continue to be His witnesses in the world today. The WORD of God is our foundation. We are called to listen to the Word of God personally, and we are to listen to the Word of God together. This is exactly what the Church does in the Liturgy of Hours and in every Eucharist. In this manner we accompany the Living Word, the Risen Lord.
Part of the promise that you make today is to faithfully pray with and for the Church in the Liturgy of Hours. Always know and believe that this is far more than a book with sacred words. The Liturgy of Hours is a precious compilation of the Living Word of God, and a privileged means by which the Living Word accompanies us, His Church. This life-breath of prayer is vital to our being able to faithfully accompany the Lord in the pilgrimage of faith through this life.
Another role of the Deacon is to assist the bishop and the priest at the altar. The altar of God is perhaps the most precious place in this world, because it is the point of access to Him who raises this life to its fullest potential, sustaining us for the life that is yet to come in all its fullness. Thus the psalmist is able to say: “O send forth your light and your truth; let these by my guide. Let them bring me to your holy mountain to the place where you dwell. And I will come to the altar of God, the God of my joy. My redeemer, I will thank you on the harp, O God, my God.” (Ps 43:3-4)
This joy referenced by the Psalmist is found in the person of Jesus. In the Gospel today after Jesus invites us to remain in his love and to keep his commandments, he says: “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15:11)
My brothers, part of your task today, in the work of the New Evangelization is to help people realize the Truth that true joy is found only in and through Christ. There is a direct correlation between remaining in Jesus, and knowing the fullness of life and joy. Necessarily, this is also a direct correlation between the separation from Jesus and knowing darkness, despair, and death.
The secular world today falsely believes that only when the human person separates him or herself from God will they be able to experience true freedom. I believe there is plenty of evidence in the world around us that demonstrates that only chaos and confusion are possible when the human person is restricted to a world open only to what man creates. A world closed in on ‘self’ can only lead to a dead end and a lack of true joy.
Part of your task in teaching the Gospel and the faith in the Risen Lord is to help people realize that true freedom is discovered only when the human person is in relationship with God. Only with the One who has conquered death are we capable of experiencing the fullness of life, because only the Risen Christ is capable of helping us transcend our ‘self.’ This is what true love is and entails a giving of self to others.
Finally, my sons and brothers, I invite you to conform your lives to the person of Jesus, whose Body and Blood you are now entrusted to offer from the altar of God. He is the true servant, who laid down his life for the many that we may live.
As you have been generous in sharing your life with another in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, so now continue in the same generosity in sharing your life with the People of God who call you to this ministry of charity and service. Please know and believe, that it is in such charity and service, that your lives will bear much fruit for the glory and honor of God. Thank you for your faith. Thank for your love and service of Christ and His Church.