Dec 4, 2013

CORRECTED: Two diocesan seminarians ordained to transitional diaconate



Story and photos by Rebecca Drake

SPRINGFIELD -- While retailers were reveling in Black Friday profits, Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell proclaimed the day "Red Saturday," in reference to the clerical vestments, as he ordained two diocesan seminarians to the transitional diaconate on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The liturgy and ordination rite was held at St. Michael's Cathedral in downtown Springfield.

Surrounded by family and friends, along with priests, deacons and fellow seminarians, Christopher A. Fedoryshyn and Frank J. Lawlor took the final formal step, becoming deacons, before their ordination to the priesthood, which is scheduled for June 2014.

In his welcoming remarks, Bishop McDonnell emphasized the importance of the role of deacon. "A deacon points others toward Christ," he said.

Later, he began his homily by directing his words to the two about to be ordained to this ministry. He asked them to think about the experience of Christ's disciples, particularly Andrew and Peter, the first to be called by Jesus to follow him. "What was it like to have Jesus in their midst?" the bishop asked. "They (the disciples) didn't know what lay ahead. But they knew it would be different because of this man from Nazareth."

Likewise, Bishop McDonnell told the two diaconate candidates, "You don't know what your future is ... But, like Peter and Andrew back then, you get up and follow Jesus." The bishop said the two men have reached a point "where the call is clear, you're listening and you're responding."

Addressing the entire congregation, Bishop McDonnell said the diaconate is a role of service, of proclaiming the Gospel and of being "the servant of all."

"Your role is to find the face of Christ in everyone you meet," the bishop said to the candidates, who sat before him in front of the altar. He told them they were to be "at the service of God and his people." He asked them to emulate Pope Francis, who "is getting out into the streets to find Christ where he is ... on the highways and byways, finding people at their work ..."

"You have to manifest Christ in your life, in what you say and do," said Bishop McDonnell. 

Following the homily, the bishop presided over the formal rite of diaconate ordination, which included eliciting form the candidates their intentions to accept the ministry of deacon and the state of celibacy; and promises to pray, to follow the example of Christ and to obey their bishop.

Bishop McDonnell described the duties the new deacons will now perform, including participating in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, instructing others in church doctrine, leading public prayer, performing baptisms, assisting at marriages and performing works of charity.

"Now, you are not only hearers of the Gospel, but its ministers," he said to the candidates.

During the Litany of Supplication, the diaconate candidates lay prostrate on the altar as the cantor, choir and congregation intoned the Litany of the Saints, which was followed by the Laying On of Hands, and the vesting of the new deacons. The ordination ceremony concluded with the new deacons' receiving of the Book of Gospels from the bishop.

Speaking to iobserve after the liturgy, the new deacons acknowledged the support of pastors, family, friends and fellow seminarians that has helped them in their preparation for the priesthood.

"It's a pretty special day for me. It's been a long time coming," said Deacon Lawlor, a Connecticut native who was previously married and has grown children. He said he first considered the priesthood in the 1970s and "a number of priests along the way, in both Hartford (Conn.) and Springfield have been very important in my life ... And my family -- my brothers and sisters and my children -- have all been very supportive. It's been a team effort."

Deacon Fedoryshyn, who grew up in Pittsfield, described the feelings he experienced during the ordination, and the days leading up to it. "What I keep coming back to is ... what a privilege and honor it is to be able to serve God's church and God's people," he said.

"I feel so fulfilled to be able to do this," said Deacon Fedoryshyn. "Whatever the bishop will ask of me, I'm more than willing to do."

Deacon Fedoryshyn also expressed his appreciation for all those who participated in and attended the transitional diaconate liturgy. "It was a beautiful ceremony. The music was phenomenal," he said.

Father Gary M. Dailey, vocations director for the Springfield Diocese, said the occasion of the diaconate ordination is "a great day of joy for the diocese," because it means two more men will soon be ordained to the priesthood.

And for the new deacons, he said, "This ceremony is another major step for a man preparing for the priesthood." With the focus on performing works of charity, Father Dailey said the deacons will be "learning how to be a servant."    

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop McDonnell again invoked the deacon's role of serving others as he invited the congregation to a reception in the Bishop Marshall Center and joked, "I'm waiting to see if they (the new deacons) will wait on tables."

(Editor's note: A gallery of photos from this event can be found here:,m6e73e,default,1&m6e73edir=Transitional-Diaconate-2013%2F&m6e73ereturnid=51&page=51)

Watch for more on this story on an upcoming edition of the Springfield Diocese's weekly newsmagazine, Real to Reel," which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.