By Marc and Julie Anderson
OVERLAND PARK — It wasn’t exactly the sound of a “strong driving wind,” and no tongues of fire appeared (cf. Acts 2:2-3). But the resounding clamor of the church’s smoke alarms set off by the incense made for a climactic end nonetheless to the ordination of the archdiocese’s two newest transitional deacons at Holy Spirit Church here on May 18.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann did invoke the power of the Holy Spirit during the prayer of consecration, however, as, through the laying on of hands, he ordained Travis Mecum and Anthony Mersmann to the transitional diaconate.
“Send forth upon them, Lord, we pray,” he said, “the Holy Spirit, that they may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry.”
Both deacons then knelt before the archbishop and promised obedience to him and his successors. The new deacons were then vested, with the assistance of Deacon Todd Brower and Deacon Dana Nearmyer, with the dalmatic and a stole symbolizing their new office.
Finally, as a symbol of their duty to proclaim the Gospel and instruct the faithful, both men received the Book of Gospels from the archbishop as he said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann thanked the soon-to-be deacons for their willingness to stake their lives on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and thanked them for “committing yourself to a life of serving God and his people.”
“Celibate bishops, priests and deacons,” he said, “are called in a special way to be at the service of married couples and families. We are called to strive, to the best of our ability, to provide married couples the spiritual nourishment they need from God’s word and sacraments of mercy, love and life to live their vocation of heroic love and self-sacrificing love.”
The vocation of celibate priesthood and Christian marriage, he suggested, “complement one another.”
Later, Archbishop Naumann exhorted the deacons to live as men of integrity, because men and women expect ordained ministers “to be who they say they are.”
“The reality of your life must correspond, as best you can, to the Gospel,” he said. “Make your lives correspond to your words and to love both selflessly and passionately.”
The archbishop concluded by instructing the candidates to lose their lives in search of “the complete joy that only Jesus Christ can provide.”
After Mass, the new deacons greeted the congregation, offering their first blessings as deacons to family and friends. In the receiving line, Deacon Mecum was asked to describe his thoughts.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, adding, “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The past month has been “a whirlwind of activity” for him with finals at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Boston, driving back the 1,500 miles to Kansas City and closing Masses.
“Then you get home and you’re getting everything ready for the ordination,” he added, “and then the day comes and it just kind of sneaks up on you.
“But being up on the altar next to [the] archbishop as the deacon of the Eucharist — I’ve never done that before. I’ve seen it a thousand times, but it was the first time I’d ever done it. It was so incredible. It was amazing.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Deacon Mersmann said that if he had to pick one word to describe his emotions, thoughts and feelings, it would be, without a doubt, gratitude.
“Gratitude is the biggest [feeling right now] and joy and fulfillment,” he said.
He felt, he said, “incredibly well prepared and fortified.“I’m ready to serve God and his church.”