The Diocese of Knoxville was blessed this past Saturday to ordain three new deacons, Deacon Jesus Guerrero-Rodriguez, Deacon Raymond Powell, and Deacon Scott Russell. These three deacons will, with the help of God, go on to later be ordained priests, adding to the already swelled ranks of the presbyterate in the Diocese of Knoxville. We are blessed that these men are answering the call of God to the priesthood, but it is easy to forget in knowing that they are likely destined to be priests that they will not receive the sacrament of Holy Orders over again next year, but they received the sacrament Holy Orders for all time this past Saturday. They will be raised to the next order in the major orders of the Church when they receive ordination to the priesthood, but this is important to note because once a man has been ordained a deacon, he is always a deacon. Deacons who are later ordained priests or bishops don’t cease to be deacons just because they later become a priest or a bishop. To say such would be like saying that a bishop ceases to be a priest when he becomes a bishop, the very idea is silly. A deacon is forever a deacon, whether he is ordained to one of the higher orders, as these men will be, or whether he simply remains a deacon.
All of that is significant because the Rite of Ordination to the diaconate is the same whether the deacons being ordained are transitional (they will eventually be priests) or permanent deacons. I had intended to go with my wife to this past weekend’s ordination, but we had a personal matter to attend to. However, in watching the Mass and following along in the rite (if you have a Roman Missal you can find the Rite of Ordination of Deacons therein), I am again reminded that for those of us who are presently in diaconate formation, this Mass of Ordination is a look at our future, God willing. It is a reminder to us of just what the diaconate is, it is “service that is sacramentalized.”
These three men are pledging themselves to a life of service to the people of God. We are all called to serve God’s people, but in different ways using our time, talents, treasure, and the resources God has provided us. For Deacon Jesus, Deacon Raymond, and Deacon Scott, their journey will eventually carry them to the presbyterate, but it began in earnest when-perhaps at varying times in their lives and in varying and different ways-they each asked the Lord: “What would you will me to do, Lord?” After asking that question in whatever manner they may have asked it, they were prepared for the Lord’s answer and ready to follow God’s direction.
We are all called to do the same, no matter what our station is in life or our place within the Body of Christ. As believers we are called to put the will of God first in our life, and to say as young Samuel did (1 Sam. 3:10) “speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”