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Seventeen deacon aspirants stepped forward to serve God and his people in the Church in central and southern Indiana during the Admission to Candidacy for the Diaconate Mass on Sept. 19 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis.
As Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein called their names, the deacon aspirants from 15 parishes lined up in front of the altar to pledge to continue their formation to serve the Lord in the ministry of charity.
As the men chosen for the second class of deacons promised their continuing service in the archdiocese, Archbishop Buechlein admitted them as deacon candidates, the second step in formation for the permanent diaconate.
After a year of discernment in 2008, they completed a year of service and instruction as aspirants. Next year, they will become lectors. A year later, they will be instituted as acolytes. At the conclusion of the fourth year of their formation, they will be ordained permanent deacons.
As deacons, they are primarily ministers of charity, and can also baptize, witness the exchange of marriage vows, proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies and perform other ministries. (Related story: One year later, deacons find joy, seek balance in ministry)
During his homily, the archbishop spoke of their faithful service to the Lord.
“Christ gave this command, ‘Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest’ ” (Lk 10:2), he said. “Our brothers know the Lord’s concern for his flock. They see the needs of the Church. And they are ready to respond generously to the Lord in the words of the prophet, ‘Here I am, send me forth’ (Heb 10:7). They put their hope in the Lord, trusting that they may answer the Lord’s call faithfully.
“… When God chooses men to serve in the ministry of charity, he moves and helps them by his grace,” Archbishop Buechlein explained. “At the same time, he entrusts us with the task of calling suitable and approved candidates, and of consecrating them by a special seal of the Holy Spirit to the ministry of God and of the Church. By the sacrament of Holy Orders, they will be appointed to share in the ministry of salvation that Christ accomplished in the world.”
After their ordination as permanent deacons, he said, “they will be given a part in our ministry of service to the Church, and build Christian communities by the preaching of the word and the celebration of the sacraments.”
In the days and years to come, Archbishop Buechlein said, “they will learn to live the life of the Gospel, and deepen their faith, hope and love. In the practice of these virtues, they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ.”
Following the Mass, deacon candidate Bradley Anderson of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus spoke enthusiastically about three more years of formation.
“I feel blessed and honored and humbled,” Anderson said. “This program has been wonderful—the formation and support we receive—and the call to Christ. … I’m very grateful to be here. I feel even closer to God today.”
He also talked about serving the people of Holy Angels Parish in Indianapolis.
“I work with the parish St. Vincent de Paul ministry,” Anderson said. “I also work with Bible study groups, and I’m probably going to be doing men’s ministry. Father Kenneth Taylor is my sponsoring pastor, and that’s been a wonderful experience. The folks at Holy Angels Parish are fantastic. They have a great spirit and a very joyful faith.”
St. Louis parishioner Ronald Freyer of Batesville serves his home parish as a deacon candidate by visiting the sick as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion as well as helping with the parish men’s group and Christ Renews His Parish.
Freyer said the deacon formation candidates have become a brotherhood and a community.
“They’re all excellent people,” he said. “I would definitely call them all brothers. It’s a wonderful community to be involved with, and also the wives are extremely important. … They’re always there and are extremely supportive.”
Freyer said he has offered prayers for “all the blessings … that God has bestowed on us.”
He is especially grateful for their recent retreat on the liturgy and sacraments.
Holy Spirit parishioner Michael Slinger of Indianapolis said he has felt called to serve God and the Church since his childhood years as an altar server, and is enjoying the deacon formation program.
Slinger said he considers his deacon formation classmates as “a family,” and he enjoys helping homeless people at Holy Family Shelter in Indianapolis and women who are recovering from addictions with help from the Seeds of Hope ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Indianapolis.
He has prayed “for the strength and enlightenment we need in going forward in our ministries, and for all the people who have helped us come to this place—our families, friends, priests, religious—everyone who has been involved in helping us. I’m just amazed at what the Lord has given me the ability to do. He’s the rock and the staff that I lean on.”
(For more information about the archdiocesan deacon formation program, log on to www.archindy.org/deacon.) †
Following is a list of the 17 men currently studying in the archdiocese’s second diaconate class: