New deacons urged to be beacons of ‘generous charity’ – Clarion Herald

(Photographs by Frank J. Methe and Cheryl Dejoie-Methe, Clarion Herald)

By BETH DONZE
Clarion Herald

As five seminarians took their first sacramental step to become priests at their transitional diaconate ordination on May 21, an exhortation from the Gospel of St. John clarified their fundamental vocational directive: To be like Christ, the Good Shepherd, “who gives his life for his sheep.”

Four of the transitional deacons, David Michael Doyle, Cory Paul Ford, Long Thanh Pham and Kevin Alden Seay, will serve as deacons and future priests of the Archdiocese of New Orleans; a fifth ordinand, Deacon Jude Tadeo Friday, was ordained for the Archdiocese of Tororo, located in his home country of Uganda.


Same vocation, different paths of faith

During the homily, Archbishop Gregory Aymond noted that the five men had heard and answered a resounding “yes” to God’s “whisper” in their hearts: “Come and follow me. I need you to continue my ministry today.”

Yet despite having that common bond, each of their vocational paths had been very different, the archbishop observed:

• For Deacon David Doyle, a New York native and long-time altar boy and sacristan who grieved the loss of his parents when he was 20, the “New Orleans family” who embraced him after he took office in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The Office of Evangelization “opened his heart wide to the priesthood,” the archbishop said.

• Deacon Cory Ford, who grew up in Ascension of Our Lord Parish in LaPlace, felt his awareness of the priesthood as a vocation, initially planted by his grandfather, reignite after noticing that Archbishop Aymond would conclude each confirmation Mass with the same bold statement. :: “I am sure that there are young people at this time in this church who are being called to the priesthood or to religious life.”



“After hearing that five times, (Deacon Ford) took it personally,” the archbishop said.

• Saigon Born in Vietnam, Deacon Long Thanh Pham’s journey to the transitional diaconate began, at the ripe old age of 5, when his great-grandmother challenged him to answer a question: “What is life all about?” When Deacon Pham heard Christ say, “’I am the way, follow me,’ he did (follow Christ),” Archbishop Aymond said.

• God tugged at the heart of Metairie-raised Deacon Kevin Seay through college and graduate school, and finally, “God won, and Kevin said yes,” the archbishop said. Deacon Seay’s early vocational seeds had been nurtured at Stuart Hall and Jesuit High School in New Orleans, the latter helping him reflect on his life’s direction through a discernment group during his senior year.

• For Deacon Jude Friday, who was rarely able to avail of the Eucharist growing up in Uganda, the longing to serve the church was inspired by the priest who visited Friday’s mission parish several times a year to celebrate Mass.

“When the priest (celebrated Mass), he felt a special closeness to the priest,” the archbishop noted.




A special vocation, rooted in Scripture

Before the five ordinands stood before the archbishop to offer their lives in service to the Church, pray the daily Liturgy of the Hours, live as celibates, preach the Gospel in word and deed, and foster their own spirituality as leaders among the brothers of God. people, Archbishop Aymond reminded them of the biblical and historical foundations of the diaconate in the Acts of the Apostles.

As Christianity spread, the 12 apostles realized that they would need additional help to minister to the needs of the people and spread the word of God, especially among the poor and marginalized. They chose highly respected men to be their “collaborators,” the archbishop said, leaders who were “humble and willing to serve not only at the Eucharistic table, but also at the table of everyday life.”

To consecrate these new church leaders and guide them in this demanding ministry, the apostles laid their hands on the heads of the elect, beginning with Saint Stephen, and called upon the Holy Spirit to ordain them for their special role in the church. That same laying on of hands, set in motion more than 2,000 years ago, would take place at Mass, the archbishop noted, as each of the five men knelt before him for the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the Ordination Prayer.

Explanation of the broad ministries of the diaconate

Archbishop Aymond also described the “triple ministry” of deacons to ordinands and parishioners present at the cathedral and tuning in to the live broadcast of Mass at home.

• First, deacons must be men of charity, he said, urging ordinands to take this responsibility to the next level by becoming beacons not just of ‘charity,’ but of “generous charity” in their communities.

“You will become, in a sense, the conscience of the Church,” helping the poor, the defenseless, the undocumented, the lonely, the victims of racism and many others, Archbishop Aymond told them. “They (will look) at you!”

• Second, each deacon is expected to be “the voice of Christ who is teacher and preacher,” the archbishop said, adding that each will be given his own bound volume of the Book of Gospels to help him unpack the God’s message. word on his new role as a potentially life-changing homilist.

“Teach what you believe and practice what you teach,” Archbishop Aymond instructed them. “Never preach without (first) praying. People are hungry to hear you!”



• Finally, deacons are to lead God’s people in prayer and assist the priest with the sacramental needs of the Church by attending Mass, baptizing, witnessing marriages, burying the dead, and bringing Communion to the sick and dying.

“Much is asked of you as we ordain you,” the archbishop said. “Can you fulfill this ministry, as amazing and overwhelming as it is? (I say yes!'”

The archbishop said three promises they would make on the day of their ordination would help them in their new roles as deacons: promises to pray without ceasing; be obedient to their diocesan bishop, for example, always humbly accept wherever they are sent to serve; and live lives of celibate chastity.

Subsequently, the five chosen ones prostrated themselves before the altar as a sign of their willingness to submit to the will of God, while the cantor led the parishioners in singing the litanies of supplication.

Practical Parish Experiences on View

In July, newly appointed transitional deacons will begin a four-month internship at their assigned church parish. They will then complete their final months of study at Notre Dame Seminary before being ordained priests in June 2023.

The internships, designed to help deacons learn the nuts and bolts of parish ministry and administration, will give men hands-on experience in leading prayer, assisting the priest at Mass, bringing Communion to the sick and dying, baptizing , witness marriages. and bury the dead.

Here is a glimpse of where each deacon will take the next step:

• Deacon Doyle, 31, a graduate of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a former member of the Americorps JumpStart Corps who helped at-risk preschoolers, will do his diaconate internship at St. Clement of Rome in Metairie.

During college, Deacon Doyle worked as a receptionist at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and initially discerned for the priesthood by enrolling at St. Joseph Seminary on the Immaculate Conception campus. Deacon Doyle was recruited for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Office of Evangelization in 2015 and earned a master’s degree in pastoral leadership in 2019 from the seminary’s Institute for Lay Ecclesial Ministry. “The right priest, at the right time, saying the right thing” led him to enroll as a seminarian there, he said.

Noting that his most emotional point of the Mass of Ordination came when he prayed with Archbishop Aymond during the laying on of hands, the New York native said that New Orleans has become his home. As a deacon intern at St. Clement of Rome, he looks forward to preaching homilies, celebrating baptisms and mentoring others who may be discerning the priesthood.

“(The people of New Orleans) opened their hearts and their homes; it became like a family, welcoming me,” Deacon Doyle said.

• Deacon Ford, 27, will spend his diaconate internship at St. Ann Church and Shrine in Metairie. He originally planned to become a mechanical engineer, but vocational clarity finally came when he heard a voice after consecration say, “Cory, follow me.”

A stage 3 melanoma survivor, Deacon Ford said the cancer has taught him to be “a better person” and will help him in his ministry of praying with and for the sick and dying.

• Saigon, Deacon Pham, 34, born in Vietnam, has been assigned to St. Rita’s in Harahan for his transitional diaconate internship. His maternal great-grandmother taught him to pray the rosary and also asked him a fundamental question at a funeral when he was 5 years old: Where do you want to be after you die?

“I looked at myself and thought, ‘How am I going to get to heaven?’” recalled Deacon Pham, who decided to take Christ’s words of “I am the way, the truth and the life” to heart.

“I need to walk with him so I can get into heaven and help other people get into heaven too,” he said.

After eight years with the Vietnamese Domus Dei religious community, four of them discerning at their novice house in New Orleans, and earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Holy Apostle College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut, Deacon Pham discerned a call to diocesan priesthood. . He said he is especially looking forward to ministering to the sick and homebound at St. Rita’s.

• Deacon Seay, 29, grew up attending the Metairie churches of St. Clement of Rome and St. Angela Merici. He will spend his diaconate internship at another Metairie church: St. Catherine of Siena.

Deacon Seay said his vocational discernment developed gradually, prompted by his fundamental openness to giving the priesthood a try — that “idea that God might be calling me and sending me.”

Calling devotion to prayer and faith models from his Catholic upbringing a “big” part of his vocational journey, Deacon Seay said he is looking forward to serving St. Catherine of Siena “according to the will of God, ( as) mediated by the people and the pastor.”

• Deacon Friday, 28, studied at Notre Dame Seminary but will eventually serve as a priest for the Archdiocese of Tororo in his native Uganda. He will complete his diaconate internship at St. James Parish in Syracuse, New York, under the guidance of the Ugandan-born priest who baptized him.

Deacon Friday, who has been drawn to the priesthood from the age of 13, said he felt fundamentally changed after the rare occasions he was able to receive Holy Communion at his mission church in Uganda.

“I always admired everything about the (visiting) priest: his mannerisms, the welcome he received, the change in the way we prayed at Mass and the respect he had for him,” he recalled.



Deacon Friday studied in Uganda until high school, after which he was assigned by his archdiocese to study philosophy in Nairobi, Kenya, at the Congregation Philosophicum of the Apostles of Jesus. Although his family and friends, eight time zones away in Uganda, were unable to attend his ordination on May 21, he said he was definitely feeling his presence.

“I am very grateful to everyone who directly or universally assists me in my formation for the priesthood,” said Deacon Friday. “I ask for your continued prayers and the regular support you offer me. I love you and pray for you always.”

bdonze@clarionherald.org

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