Archdiocese Local Religious life

A life-changing day

Three ordained to transitional diaconate

by Joe Bollig 

OVERLAND PARK — The three newest deacons in the archdiocese were encouraged to embrace their ministry of service as they, in turn, are embraced by God and the church.

John N. Blaha, Barry R. Clayton, and Michael J. Peterson, were ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 22 at Holy Spirit Parish in Overland Park. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was the homilist and ordaining minister.

For the three men, the time they will spend in the diaconate before their priestly ordinations will be brief. If all goes according to plan, they will be ordained to the priesthood in a year. Nevertheless, the diaconate is the foundation of the three ranks of clergy.

“[The transitional diaconate] can be looked at as kind of a final step along the way to that ultimate goal, which is the priesthood. And in some ways, that’s true,” said Archbishop Naumann, in his homily.

“Yet in reality, this day for Nick, Barry and Michael is more life changing than next year, when — God willing — I will ordain them as priests,” he continued. “For it is [in] today’s ordination ceremony . . . that [the ordinands] promise to give their lives to God and the church.”

That day, the new deacons place their lives into the hands of the church and pledge their obedience to their bishop and his successors.

“In a true sense, [the three men] promise to stake all their lives on the truth of the Gospel of Jesus and to offer their lives completely to the service of his people,” said the archbishop. “In an age when making any commitment is so difficult, and in a culture that cherishes in so many ways keeping all options open, the promises that Nick, Barry and Michael will make in our presence are truly breathtaking.”

The three men have received their formation during a very difficult time in the church, he said. They witnessed the great harm that has been done by clergy who have not been faithful to their sacred promises.

“The tragedy of these difficult years has, hopefully, made more apparent to you the importance of maintaining your own spiritual strength,” said the archbishop.

“Those who are called to be God’s human instruments in communicating his love to his people must first allow the Lord to minister to their hearts,” he added, “through faithful prayer, regular use of the sacrament of penance, great devotion to the Eucharist, frequent reflection on God’s word, and with the crucial assistance of wise spiritual directors.”

During the promise of the elect, each of the three men stood and pledged to fulfill the duties of the diaconate. Then, they prostrated themselves on the floor during the Litany of the Saints. Next, each man approached the archbishop to receive the laying on of hands and to receive the Book of the Gospels.

Deacon Blaha was vested by Deacon Scott Wallisch; Deacon Clayton was vested by Father Robert Hasenkamp; and Deacon Peterson was vested by Father Pat Sullivan.

Each of the three deacons will continue their studies at their respective seminaries. Their tentative date for ordination to the priesthood is May 28, 2011. The location will be announced later.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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