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A Twofold Identity

Deacons ordained to be apostles, servants

By Denis Grasska

RANCHO PENASQUITOS — Deacons are to be both apostles and servants, Bishop Robert W. McElroy said.

The bishop was delivering a homily June 3 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, just prior to ordaining five local men to the permanent diaconate.

Bishop McElroy defined this “twofold identity” as the central aspect of diaconal life, referencing a recent homily that Pope Francis gave to deacons gathered at the Vatican for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The pope, said Bishop McElroy, explained to the deacons that the roles of apostle and servant are inseparable.

Though permanent deacons are invited to live out this call in a unique way through ordained ministry, the bishop said, all baptized Christians have this dual identity.

“If evangelizing is the mission entrusted at baptism to each Christian, service is the way that mission is carried out,” he said. “It is the only way to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Deacons are called to be “friends with Christ,” the bishop said. He added that, in this Year of Mercy, the Church has reflected on the fact that friendship with God is rooted in God’s mercy.

He noted that, at the deacon convocation earlier this year, he designated the diocese’s deacons as “missionaries of mercy.” He prayed that the five men about to be ordained to the diaconate would experience God’s mercy in their own lives and share it with those to whom they minister.

“May it sustain you when you are tired, inspire you when you are searching, console you when you are suffering,” he said, and may God’s mercy be “the foundation of all that you do in your ministry as apostle and servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Shortly after the bishop’s homily, Federico Drachenberg, Sergio Hernandez, Juan Santillán, John Tobin and William Turner promised “respect and obedience” to Bishop McElroy and his successors.

After prostrating themselves before the altar during the singing of the Litany of the Saints, the five men were ordained by the bishop through the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination.

They were then invested with the diaconal vestments — the stole and dalmatic — and, kneeling one by one at the bishop’s feet, they received the Book of Gospels as the bishop exhorted them to, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach.”

The newly ordained received the traditional “fraternal kiss” from Bishop McElroy and were welcomed in similar fashion by representatives of the diaconate of the diocese.

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