The Diocese of Knoxville welcomed its newest transitional deacon May 30 when seminarian Adam Royal was elevated to holy orders by Bishop Richard F. Stika at St. Stephen Church in Chattanooga.
Fellow deacons, priests, family, friends and members of St. Stephen joined Deacon Royal for the Rite of Ordination.
In his homily, Bishop Stika reminded Deacon Royal that people from all walks of life will see Jesus through him as he carries out his new ministry.
Bishop Stika referred to Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree to see Jesus, as well as the blind man and the paralytic, who both took extraordinary measures to get close to Christ.
“Time and time and time again there are people who wanted to see Jesus. And I bet if I did a survey today, I think all of us would like to see Jesus. I think all of us want to go to heaven. We all want to see Jesus. We see him when we celebrate the Eucharist. We see him when the Word is open to us in the Scriptures, in the sacraments, in prayer,” Bishop Stika said.
“When the Christian Catholic community comes together, there is Christ, the mystical body. And we have people who are called by Jesus to do a particular work in the Church. They’re seeing the same thing. They want to see in their priest, in their deacon, and in their bishop the presence of Christ, the presence of Jesus. And when a priest or the bishop celebrates the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, there is Christ in our hands and in the cup,” he added.
Bishop Stika encouraged Deacon Royal to be humble.
“Humility to all Christians and all Catholics is so very important, but especially to a person who represents Jesus and the Church.
“They always talk about a deacon or a priest or a bishop on a pedestal. The pedestal is the cross, not something a statue stands on. A pedestal for an authentic minister of the Church is the cross to bear the sufferings of the people, but also to uplift the people as Jesus was uplifted on that cross to give himself for everyone.
“If you want to be a good deacon, allow yourself to be on that cross. Allow yourself to be a true minister of Jesus,” Bishop Stika said.
More than a dozen priests and permanent deacons joined Bishop Stika in celebrating the Mass. Concelebrants included Father Joe Reed, diocesan director of vocations; Father David Carter, diocesan vocation promotions coordinator; Father Harry Hagan, OSB, associate professor of Scripture at St. Meinrad School of Theology; Father Manuel Perez, pastor of St. Stephen Church; and Father Gilbert Diaz, a former pastor of St. Stephen who now is at Holy Family Church in Seymour.
Before the homily, the deacon candidate was called forward by Deacon Sean Smith, responding “present” to his call.
Bishop Stika then told Deacon Royal that as the seminarian answered “present,” he is giving his total life to the Lord with the gift of celibacy, the total embrace of the Church as the Church totally embraces him.
During the Rite of Ordination, Deacon Royal was called by Bishop Stika in the Election of Candidates and then was questioned by the bishop in the Promise of the Elect, where he took his vows of the diaconate.
He then promised respect and obedience to the bishop, who laid his hands on him and gave the Prayer of Ordination.
The new deacon then took part in the investiture with stole and dalmatic, where Father Diaz assisted Deacon Royal in putting on the diaconal stole and dalmatic.
Deacon Royal is set to complete his studies at St. Meinrad in St. Meinrad, Ind., next spring and then will be ordained a priest.
His ordination into the transitional diaconate comes just ahead of the ordination to four current transitional deacons into the priesthood.
Jesús Guerrero Rodriguez, Scott Russell, Ray Powell, and Michael Hendershott will be ordained June 27 at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.