Over the past few weeks it has been incredibly busy with ordinations, graduations and the like, not to mention beginning my summer assignment and starting summer classes.
As a seminarian studying and discerning the priesthood, ordination weekends are very powerful experiences which cause much reflection and soul searching. Over the last few weekends I was honored to be able to watch Alan Tremblay and Charlie Pawlowski be ordained as Deacons, and Kyle Stanton a priest. At the seminary we spend a lot of time discussing and learning various theological points, training our minds, hearts and selves for a life of service. However, the formation process, preparation for the priesthood, takes on a completely different perspective when it is your good friends, who you have known for years, who you have laughed with, vacationed with and studied beside, who lay down before the Altar and surrender their lives to God, and His people. It is a time of great joy, prayer, reflection and amazement when one suddenly realizes they are next, God willing.
This summer marks the three year point for my entry into the Seminary. It is hard to believe that it has been that long. This fall I am scheduled to begin Third Theology. Third Theology marks the year which leads up to the moment of one's Ordination as a Deacon, generally speaking.
This year the Church in New Hampshire was blessed to welcome Alan Tremblay and Charlie Pawlowski as Deacons. Both Charlie and Alan study with me in Baltimore and are great guys. They both have servants hearts and will be a great blessing to the Church. It was a great honor to serve at their ordination Mass.
Before the ordinations at the Cathedral there is an exciting feeling in the sacristy. The seminarians from the diocese prepare for the Mass, setting up everything that is needed. Friends and brother seminarians from other dioceses who are visiting for the big day are in town and the sense of brotherhood is in the air. Alan and Charlie who are about to be ordained deacons nervously wait in the sacristy, as their fellow seminarians, myself included, give them a hard time in an effort to help relieve nerves and remove some of the nervous tension in the air.
On cue the music begins and the long procession of servers, deacons and priests make their way into the Church. As you can see there I am smiling away. If you look carefully in this picture you can also see Ed Mele from the Knights of Columbus. Ed is an amazing man with a generous heart, he is also the head of vocation support for NH Seminarians via the Knights of Columbus. Ed organizes various Council's across the state and together they send each of NH's seminarians financial support to buy books, pay for Gas, etc... and most importantly they keep us in their prayers. Ed is an amazing guy and a good friend with and incredible sense of humor.
One of the most moving portions of the Ordination Mass for Deacons is when the guys lay down in front of the Altar. This move demonstrates the full surrender they are making and the life of humble service which they are being called. This action is repeated each year during Holy Week. During ordinations it is at this point that the Litany of Saints is sung by the choir and the congregation. It is also at this point that my eyes usually fill up because of the beauty, power, and history contained in this hymn.
One of my awkward jobs at the ordination Masses this year was to hold the book from which the Bishop offered prayers. The awkward part was that at every important moment in the Mass and the ordination rite, I would have to stand between or next to Alan and Charlie. As an Altar Server I would always try to be subtle, however as the picture shows there is no real way to be so at such a moment. It is a powerful moment in the rite, all eyes are focused in my direction, all the while I have to blend in, while being front and center.
Note: when having to kneel for long periods of time, holding aforementioned text, do not hike for the six hours the day before with legs which are in pain!
Alan and Charlie's parents bringing up the gifts
Alan incensing the Altar as a Deacon for the first time!