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 | By Daniel Jost and Lucas Guatura

Six ordained transitional deacons in South Carolina

On May 24, four men were ordained transitional deacons for the Diocese of Charleston at St. Joseph Church in Columbia. This was the largest group of its kind since 2006. The Mass and consecration were celebrated by Bishop Jacques Fabre-Jeune, CS. He was joined by Archbishop Shelton Fabre of Louisville, Kentucky, who delivered the homily. The newly ordained are Deacons Lee Bultman, Justin Damask, Michael Ghattas and Daniel Perry.

Then, on May 25, two men were ordained for the Rock Hill Oratory, part of the Confederation of Oratories of St. Philip Neri, at St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill. They are Oratorian Deacons Johnni Do Bonfim Silva and Charles A. Tupta. Bishop Mario Aviles, CO, auxiliary bishop of Brownsville, Texas, was the celebrant and ordainer with Bishop Fabre concelebrating.

Diocesan ordinands

Deacon Lee Bultman walked into St. Joseph Church in Columbia with his former seminary classmate who is now Archbishop Fabre. Bultman discerned out of seminary as a young man and reentered just a few years ago. We asked what this moment meant to him.

“This has been a lifetime journey for me, and I am profoundly humbled,” he shared. “I’ve been discerning since I was in the second grade.”

These men have dedicated years, or decades in Deacon Bultman’s case, of their lives to take up a new journey as ordained clergy. Deacon Michael Ghattas shared insight into the transitional diaconate.

“I used to think the diaconate was just a step in becoming a priest, but I learned that there is ontological change,” he explained. “When you walk with a collar — it can get hot in this weather — it can be uncomfortable. In sharing this outward sign, you truly represent Christ.

“Tonight, we lay prostrate. Everyone prays over us because this is the moment that we die from ourselves and die to the world,” he said.

Deacon Justin Damask said that many people helped him along the way.

“In preparation for this moment and in my discernment, God has sent many people to affirm my vocation,” he stated. “The desire has grown and grown. The thought of being a spiritual father gives me goosebumps. It’s the thing I want the most badly in life at the moment: to be a spiritual father.”

Deacon Daniel Perry was asked what he thinks about preparing himself for his future ordination as a priest. 

“Conformity with the cross of Christ. That’s it,” he smiled. “No need to trim that quote down!”

Oratorian Deacons

Deacon Charles Tupta shared that his time away from seminary helped him learn to fall in love with the priesthood.

“This was my second time in the seminary. After the first time, I took a leave of absence and then left all together. When I left, I became infatuated with the royal priesthood of all the baptized. It is where I feel I learned the most about what it means to be a servant of the servants. I am grateful for the dedicated seminary staff and especially my classmates, some with children and grandchildren, from diverse careers, and from dioceses and religious communities around the world. I feel well rounded.”

He added that the diaconate and the priesthood are different vocations. 

“It seems crazy that I will have another ordination in a year, but I am looking forward to spending the time as a deacon with the people of God and less time in the seminary,” he said. “As an Oratorian, I have been away from my community and the parishes and organizations that we serve for four years. I am looking forward to being home.”

Deacon Johnni Silva spoke on the three roles of the diaconate: the Word (preaching), the altar and charity. 

“Being a deacon for me means being available wholeheartedly, without any reservations, at the service of Christ and his Church,” he explained. “It took a few years of studies and preparation to reach this moment, but each moment of this journey was important for me to reach the Order of the Diaconate.” 

He added that during this year of transitional diaconate, “I want to give myself entirely and do my best to serve the Church. This year will also help me to prepare myself for the ordination to the priesthood of Christ next year. Please keep me in your prayers.”

Daniel A. Jost, III, is the public relations specialist for the diocesan Office of Communications. Email him at

Lucas Guatura is the information technology and audio visual coordinator for St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill. Email him at