Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Three New Deacons Called to ‘Do the Will of God in Charity from the Heart’

Three Diocesan seminarians were ordained to the diaconate on Saturday, May 18, receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders as they enter their final year of formation for the priesthood.

The newly-ordained are Deacon Cole Mase, a member of Holy Spirit Parish in Palmyra; Deacon Andrew St. Denis, a member of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish in Mount Joy; and Deacon Clark Stiteler; a member of St. Patrick Parish in Carlisle.

The men were ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Timothy Senior during a solemn Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg, in front of a congregation filled with family members and friends, clergy, religious, lay faithful and seminary formators, and to an audience watching via livestream on the Diocese’s YouTube channel.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the new deacons were given their assignments to the following parishes for the upcoming year: Deacon Mase to St. Anthony of Padua and San Juan Bautista Parishes in Lancaster; Deacon St. Denis to Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Middletown; and Deacon Stiteler to St. Joseph Parish in York.

Their ministry will be to proclaim the Gospel, preach, and assist the priest at Mass; and celebrate baptisms, witness marriages, and officiate at funeral rites. It is anticipated they will be ordained priests for the Diocese of Harrisburg in June of 2025.

“The whole Diocese rejoices today as our brothers Cole, Andrew and Clark are advancing in their formation to the priesthood,” Bishop Senior said.

Acknowledging all the seminarians and the candidates for the permanent diaconate who were gathered for the ordination, the bishop said: “We give thanks to God as we can glimpse into all of your lives…the action of the Holy Spirit and the promise for the future of the Church through your response.”

For each of the new deacons, their journeys toward Holy Orders are as unique as their gifts.

Deacon Mase was working as a legislative monitor at the State Capitol when he rediscovered his love for the Church.

“I learned a lot about the faith and the Church at that time. I became very interested in it and began to pursue a relationship with Jesus and go to Mass very frequently during the week,” he said an in interview. “Growing in that over time, I felt the call from God that He wanted me to look into going to seminary.”

“The generosity of the people of Diocese has been amazing, especially the parishes where I’ve been serving the last few summers,” he said of the faithful’s prayers and their financial support through the Pentecost Collection.

Deacon St. Denis said his discernment of a religious vocation was encouraged during his experience with Catholic Campus Ministry at Bloomsburg University.

“The one saying that continued to come up was, ‘God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called,’” he said. “God provides the graces needed for each moment and gives me the strength I need.”

“It’s been a wonderful journey, all thanks to the grace of God and the fraternity that has grown among my brothers in seminary,” Deacon St. Denis said.

Deacon Stiteler had been working as an attorney when He heard God’s invitation after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

“The graces that I received after that Sacrament that day were incredible. I remember praying my penance in church and, all of a sudden, the thought of the priesthood came into my head,” he said. “Looking back on it now, I was fully receptive at that time to what God was talking to me about…. At that point, the graces of Christ put me in tune and I could hear His particular plan for my life.”

During the solemn Rite of Ordination, the candidates affirmed their intentions through a series of questions from the bishop during the Promise of the Elect, and pledged their obedience to him and his successors. Then, they prostrated themselves before the altar, laying face-down on the floor as the congregation invoked the intercession of the saints during the Litany of Supplication.

The Laying on of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination followed, through which the men were ordained to the diaconate. Deacons Mase, St. Denis and Stiteler then received their vestments and the Book of the Gospels and exchanged a Sign of Peace with Bishop Senior and all the deacons present before the Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In his homily during the Rite of Ordination, Bishop Senior told the men: “Always keep in mind that Jesus has given you an example; that just as He Himself has done, so also you should do: ‘Amen, amen, I say to you. Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit…. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.’”

“As deacons, as ministers of Jesus Christ, Who appeared in the midst of the disciples as One Who serves, do the will of God in charity from the heart, serve others with joy as you would serve the Lord Himself,” Bishop Senior told the three men, seated before him.

“I’ve come to know that you each have been blessed with many gifts. You have engaged in formation, accepting the opportunities that have been given to you for you to discern God’s will and to grow as men who are disciples of Jesus, and gradually to be ever more configured to the likeness of Christ,” he said.

Learn more about religious vocations in the Diocese of Harrisburg at www.hbgdiocese.org/vocations.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

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