Phew, we did it. These were my first words after completing the two-hour Mass and Rites of Ordination of 16 men to the Diaconate (15 Permanent and one Transitional) on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at our Cathedral in Fall River. It was a joy, honor, and privilege to bestow the Sacrament of Holy Orders to these men—my hope for the future of the Church affirmed each of the sixteen times I repeated the words of the diaconate ordination rite.
As I looked out at all those present on Saturday, with nearly every seat in Cathedral occupied for the first time in many years, I expressed how celebrations like this remind each of us how alive the Catholic Church is, especially here in our Diocese as we witness sixteen men vow a life of service to the Church. These men persevered through many challenges, in particular receiving a majority of their formation through the pandemic. May the light, the joy, and the enthusiasm they shared on Saturday endure so they may never perceive answering God’s call as burdened.
My hope, my prayer, for each of the newly ordained:
- As Ministers of the Word—they will first fulfill their duty to be at service to the Gospel.
- As Ministers of the Altar—they will remember in order to be effective leaders of prayer, they must first be men of prayer.
- As Ministers of Charity—they will be recognized as faithful disciples of Him who came to serve—not to be served.
May they each remain humble men of good reputation who hope in the Gospel. Men who will one day hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter the joy of the Lord” from the God who has called them to serve His people.
A Permanent Deacon’s Perspective
Deacon David Roderick
Although my journey to the diaconate has taken 16 years, it was truly God’s perfect timing. Confirmation of my vocation to the Diaconate occurred while on pilgrimage. As I knelt to pray after receiving Communion, I heard, in my heart, the Blessed Mother call me to come follow her Son, to not be afraid; she and Jesus would be with me.
So many words come to mind as I try to explain our ordination on Saturday— joyful, spiritual, and very emotional. Kneeling before Bishop da Cunha, as I resolved to carry out the ministry of the diaconate with humility and fidelity and vowing obedience to him and his successors—I experienced Christ in that moment. I witnessed the power of the apostolic succession as I felt the Holy Spirit truly present amongst us. One of the most powerful moments came as my wife brought forward my vestments, I could barely hold back the tears. Recognizing truly all things are possible with Christ, as we reached the culmination of years of study and preparation and were vested for the first time as deacons.
As I move forward as a deacon in the Diocese of Fall River, I hope that people will see me as a devoted and faithful man of God. As people see us, the newly ordained going through life’s ups and downs, I pray they realize we are on the same humble pilgrimage toward our rightful home in heaven. We are all in this together, and I pray I am given many opportunities to share my faith with all who seek the Lord. While I’m excited to perform all of my ministerial duties of the Word, Altar, and Charity, honestly, I am eager to celebrate my first baptism.
A Transitional Deacon’s Perspective
Deacon Bryan Bangs
I did not receive the call to the priesthood in one dramatic moment but over time. God led me through many hours in prayer (especially Eucharistic Adoration), through the encouragement of family and friends, and through the mentorship and inspiration I have received from many good priests, especially from Fr. George Harrison, the pastor of my home parish of Corpus Christi. When I entered the seminary, I was still not completely sure that I wanted to be a priest, but God has confirmed my call with every further step in the journey, eventually allowing me to permanently commit myself to His service this past Saturday.
A particularly powerful moment at the ordination was when the other diaconal candidates and I were all silently processing up to the altar to receive the laying on of hands. This was the moment when the Holy Spirit descended upon each of us to change us, to transform us through His grace, into deacons. Although it had been raining all morning, the sun shined through the windows during that procession, which felt like a confirmation of God’s blessing on all of us.
I am very much looking forward to being able to serve God’s people in a deeper way than I ever have been able to before. I am excited about the new experiences (especially baptizing and preaching) which I will have during my time as a deacon. I am hopeful that these opportunities will allow me to grow as a minister so that I will be better able to serve God’s people as a priest.
On May 29th at 10 am, I will celebrate the annual Memorial Day Mass in the Mausoleum Chapel at Notre Dame Cemetery, 1540 Stafford Road, in Fall River. All are welcome.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha