By Barbara A. Grigson

On a recent sunny Sunday, 14 men participated in the Rite of Reader and Acolyte in the Diocese of Syracuse.

These ministries were once considered minor orders, and were formally established as ministries by Pope Paul VI in the 1973 document Ministeria quaedam. According to Canon Law, Canon 1035 states: “Before anyone is promoted to the permanent or transitional diaconate, he is required to have received the ministries of lector and acolyte and to have exercised them for a suitable period of time.” This time frame is at least six months. This rite also enters the person into a clerical state, with his main directive to assist priests and deacons during Mass.

This is one of the final steps of a long journey. The deacon candidates, having completed the Formation for Ministry Program and Pastoral Care Education, are now in their fourth year of diaconate formation, looking towards ordination in April 2020 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The candidates are Jeffrey Getman, James Henck, Kirk Lallier, Peter Lual, Matt Lumia, Joseph Lupia, Larry Messina, Thomas Murphy, Daniel Reynolds, George Spohr, Edward Terzolo, James Tokos, Aleu Tong, and John Trendowski.

The ceremony, held Oct. 13 at Christ the King Church in Liverpool, was attended by the candidates, their family and friends, parishioners from Christ the King and Pope John XXIII Church, as well as supporters from their home parishes. After the Gospel, each candidate was called forth by name and approached Bishop Douglas J. Lucia. The candidates were seated as Bishop Lucia directed his homily, on the importance of that which they were undertaking, to them.

Before conferring the ministry of Reader, the bishop reads from the rite, which in part stresses the gravity of the mission: “…you will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God” (Roman Missal). Each then kneels before the bishop, holding a Bible, vowing to uphold this mission.

Next comes the Rite of Acolyte, which directs the individual to assist priests and deacons, give Holy Communion to the faithful at liturgy and to the sick, and to “strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and be molded more perfectly in its likeness” (Roman Missal). Each kneels before the bishop and holds a paten with the bread to be consecrated, vowing to make his life worthy of this service.

The joy was visible on the faces of the candidates as they greeted family and friends after Mass — all were so proud of their loved one. Appropriately, during the Presentation of the Gifts on that beautiful Sunday afternoon, the choir led the singing of “The Servant Song” by David Haas: “We are pilgrims on the journey/We are travelers on the road/We are here to help each other/Walk the mile and bear the load.”

Many candidates asked for continued prayers while they continue classes and acts of service on this last stretch on the road to ordination. We in the Diocese of Syracuse walk with these men.

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