New deacons take vows

15 men ordained into permanent diaconate in service of God

Miscellany/Doug Deas: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone prays over each candidate during the diaconate ordination held Feb. 6 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

CHARLESTON—Fifteen men started a new life of ministry and service to the Church as they were ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on Feb. 6.

The liturgy took place before a socially-distanced crowd of family, fellow deacons and well-wishers at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. 

The ordinations offer continued evidence of the strong permanent diaconate program in the diocese. This was the third large class in a row, following 35 men who were ordained in 2016 and another 16 in 2019. There are currently 37 other candidates in formation and 189 in the process of applying, according to Deacon André Guillet, diocesan director for the Diaconate Office. 

Deacon Guillet said he was incredibly proud of the 15 men, and he praised the friendships the men formed during their years of study. He also said the day was bittersweet for two of the new deacons, brothers Mark and Michael Thompson, whose mother passed away the morning of the ordination. 

“At the beginning of the week she had told her sons that she wanted to be with their father in Heaven and to watch their ordination from heaven, and that is what happened,” Deacon Guillet said. 

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The ceremony of ordaining permanent deacons includes many elements. Bishop Guglielmone gave a homily that explained the new deacons’ responsibilities. He called on them to be men of prayer, to live upstanding moral lives and to show love to all of God’s people. 

“You do not walk alone but rather with God who sends you into this life of mission,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “We live in difficult times when adversity, rejection and struggle is real, but be generous and sincere in your response to people. Reach out to them with love, understanding and compassion, and trust in the Lord always.” 

The men then prostrated themselves before the altar during the Litany of the Saints. After this, the bishop laid his hands on the men and prayed over them, and then the newly ordained deacons were vested with the stole and dalmatic, traditional vestments for deacons. Some were vested by their pastors, others by family members. 

Ordination opens a new world of ministry for the men. Permanent deacons may proclaim the Gospel at Mass, assist priests during Mass, preside at funerals and wakes, lead prayer services and benedictions, baptize infants and visit the sick and the dying. Many of the men will take on additional roles at their parishes, working in outreach programs and other ministries, teaching religious education and other duties. 

Bishop Guglielmone offered a special blessing to the new deacons’ wives and thanked them for their dedication and support for their husbands during the years of rigorous study it takes to prepare for the diaconate. 

Deacon Greg Taverez of Sumter was happy to have his wife and family by his side on the important day. His parents came in from New Jersey and his father, a retired deacon himself, vested Taverez with his stole and dalmatic. 

“When I was an altar boy back in New Jersey, I served on the altar for my father’s ordination, so it was special to have him here with me at my ordination,” Deacon Taverez said. “I was overwhelmed and very humbled by the experience.”

Deacon Taverez will serve at St. Anne and St. Jude Church in Sumter, and said he is looking forward to all of the aspects of his new ministry. He said as a deacon he will continue his many years of work with youth ministry, work with Hispanic ministry and also wants to get involved in ecumenical outreach programs. 

Deacon Brian Justice of Christ Our King Church in Mount Pleasant said ordination was the happy conclusion to a long journey. 

“It’s been six years of preparation for this one day, and it now feels fulfilling and very natural to be a deacon at last,” he said.