The Diocese of Charleston now has 35 more ministers dedicated to sharing the Gospel and serving the faithful.
The remarkably large group was the first class of deacons to be ordained in the diocese in nine years. They received the sacrament after four years of study.
Deacon Andre Guillet, director of the diaconate formation program, said he was moved to tears at the ordination of men who he said became like family as they prepared for their ministry.
“For six and a half years, from the time I first interviewed them when they applied to now, I have journeyed with them,” Deacon Guillet said. “They are truly my brother deacons and I have a great admiration for every single one of them, and great respect for their wives and families.”
Both churches were at standing-room only capacity as family, friends and well-wishers packed the pews. The men also received support from their fellow deacons. At the Simpsonville Mass, more than 70 attended, including 12 of the 17 men who had been ordained the Saturday prior.
The liturgies were moving and elaborate. Bishop Guglielmone described the duties of the permanent deacon and the men prostrated themselves before the altar during the Litany of Supplication. During that time, the congregation calls up Christ, Mary, the saints, and holy men and women who have entered eternity to intercede for the ordinands. The bishop laid his hands on them and prayed, and the newly ordained deacons were vested with the stole and dalmatic, the outward symbol of their new vocation. Then, Bishop Guglielmone handed them the book of the Gospels, signifying that they now can proclaim the Word during liturgies.
That is just one of a deacon’s important duties. They can assist priests during Mass, baptize and witness marriages, preside at funerals and wakes, lead prayer services and benedictions, and visit the sick and dying. Deacons also proclaim the Gospel during liturgies, teach religious education classes, and frequently take part in social and spiritual outreach programs, including prison ministry.
Bishop Guglielmone reminded the new deacons that their lives will be forever changed by their decision to serve God.
“Many of you began this journey asking ‘Lord, who am I to answer this call?’” he said. “Through God’s grace, you have come forward relying on the help of the Lord and of your families, especially of your wives. Remember always that it is never about you, but about Jesus Christ. Reach out to God’s people, respect the people to whom you minister, and never allow yourselves to be turned away from the message of hope in the Gospel.”
At both ordinations, he asked the deacons’ wives to stand and receive a special blessing because of the help they gave their spouses during their preparation. Bishop Guglielmone said that wives must often sacrifice family time and time with their husbands as they go through the rigorous program. Several of the women took the classes with their husbands, earning their master’s in theology.
After the solemn beauty of the ordinations, the new deacons hugged family, laughed, posed for photos and attended receptions in their honor. The men and their wives smiled and talked about the genuine emotion the ceremony evoked. Several said they were moved to tears when they lay face down before the altar.
Deacon Michael Regan, of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville, stood surrounded by his loved ones after the ordination in Charleston, including some who had traveled from other states.
“I’m on cloud nine right now — this has been an experience words can’t express,” he said. “I could truly feel the presence of the Holy Spirit here today.”
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet that I am a deacon,” said Deacon Fred Knowles, whose home parish is Sacred Heart Church in Gaffney. “This is the culmination of an incredible amount of study and effort, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work!”
Deacon Leland Cave, of St. Martin de Porres Church in Columbia, had one of his mentors with him in spirit as he was ordained. He was vested with a stole that had belonged to the late Deacon Roland Thomas.
His wife Arnetha Cave and other wives of the new deacons said the years of preparation had been a challenge but also a journey of faith and love for their families.
“It’s been a blessing, especially for our children to watch him study and work and grow in the Lord,” Mrs. Cave said.
With the classes and ceremony behind them, the new deacons said they were ready to begin living out their ministry.
“I want to serve the people of my parish through times of happiness and in times of sorrow,” said Deacon Roger Schonewald of Simpsonville.
“I’m really looking forward to reaching out to the sick, to shut-ins and people going through tough times,” said Glenn Dudek, of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Greenwood. “I want to bring God’s message to people in need.”
Watch the highlights from the ordination on Johns Island here:
Diaconate ordination at Holy Spirit Church
Watch the highlights from the ordination in Simpsonville here:
Diaconate ordination at St. Mary Magdalene Church
Read more about the men ordained at Holy Spirit Church:
35 men in line for upcoming diaconate ordinations
Read more about the men ordained at St. Mary Magdalene Church:
Bishop to ordain men in two groups
All photos by Doug Deas
Jan. 30, Holy Spirit Church, Johns Island
Ordained Jan. 30 were: Harvey Becker; Robert Boackle; Steven Brown; Kevin Campbell; Leland Cave; Robert Cox; Kurt Herbst; Fred Knowles; Jose Mayen; John Murphy; Stephen Platte; Michael Regan; Gustavo Salazar; Joseph Stocker; Joseph Stocker; John Tempesco; Michael Woodall; and Michael Younginer.
Feb. 6, St. Mary Magdalene Church, Simpsonville
Ordained on Feb. 6 were: Nestor Acosta; Philbrick Allen; Michael Amato; Norberto Chavez; Terrence Chisolm; Joseph Ciavardini; Albert De Lachica; Robert Donofrio; Glenn Dudek; Dexter Gourdin; Mark Gray; John Hall; William Hudson, Jr.; Gary Janelle; Steven Olson; Joseph Sanfilippo; Roger Schonewald; and Thomas Whalen.