Click here to see a slide show of the ordination

By Lou Baldwin
Special to the CS&T

The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul was jammed June 4, as family, friends, clergy and fellow parishioners turned out for the ordination by Cardinal Justin Rigali of 19 men for the permanent diaconate.

Preaching at a ceremony strikingly similar to the May 21 ordination of three men as priests, he told the new deacons theirs was “a special service to the people of God, a special service mostly associated with that of the priest, and above all a service of charity.”

“It is an outreach in the name of Jesus Christ and the Church,” the Cardinal said. “The service of the diaconate is a dynamic structure of the Church as willed by Christ.” {{more}}

“It’s a very big day,” said newly ordained deacon Richard Malamut of St. Christopher Parish in far Northeast Philadelphia, whose family and friends were present for this moment, the culmination of six years of preparation.

Deacon Dennis Warner of St. Anselm Parish, in the far Northeast as well, also thought it an unbelievable moment. Another deacon had put the idea in his head, and he thought about it for a while before entering the program. “Now here I am,” he said.

That’s just as it should be, according to his wife Maureen. “It has been a long time and I’m thrilled and excited,” she said. “This is where he is meant to be.”

There is no rule that says permanent deacons should be married or single, only that they cannot marry after ordination. As a matter of fact, all 19 deacons in this year’s class are married, and as a group they have 57 children; some children are grown, but others are quite young.

Deacon Timothy Lynch, of St. Jude Parish in Chalfont, said becoming a deacon took a great deal of prayer and discernment, and now he’s anxious to do God’s work.

He and his wife Anita will be married 25 years this year, and they have three daughters.

“Brittany is 20, Courtney is 16, and Mari Grace turned 9 today,” he said.

As to how it feels to have a deacon for a daddy, “It’s cool,” Mari Grace said.

The new deacons, in a sense, will be brothers for life, but two of the newly ordained, Deacons Ronald Lewis and Harold Morris, both of St. Cornelius Parish in Chadds Ford, already have brothers by birth in the permanent diaconate. Oddly enough, in both cases they are older than their brothers who preceded them in the diaconate.

“I like to think I influenced my brother,” said Deacon Edward Morris, who was ordained in 2008 and who ministers at St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley. “I’m tremendously honored that he has been called to the diaconate. All of my life I have looked up to him because he is my older brother. This is a great day.”

Deacon Charles Lewis, ordained in 2009 and assigned to the Office for Permanent Deacons with weekend ministry at St. Stanislaus Parish in Lansdale, said, “I’m so happy, now my brother will be a brother in a special way, but I don’t think I influenced him at all. I think God calls. This is a fantastic day, filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.