During the Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate candidates kneel before the ordaining bishop three times: first when he makes a vow of obedience, again when he is ordained, and finally as he receives the Book of the Gospels. During the first of these three, the bishop takes the candidate’s hands into his own hands and asks, “Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?” If he wants the Ordination Rite to continue, the candidate replies “I do.” Then the bishop says, “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”
This is not a simple promise, in fact it is a vow just like marriage vows. It is meant to be faithfully honored and kept. Of course, it does not apply to everything a deacon could be told to do. For instance, if a bishop told a deacon to rob a bank, teach heresy, or transfer to a parish 100 miles away (none of which my bishop would ask a deacon to do) the deacon is not obligated to be obedient in that manner. However, when the bishop tells a deacon to do something that is reasonable, can be done, and in the bishop’s judgment is for the good of the Universal Church the deacon has a duty to obey based upon the vow of obedience he made at his ordination.
On November 9th of this year I received a telephone call advising me that Archbishop Gregory had decided to transfer me to St. Mary Magdalene to replace a deacon who had moved out of the Archdiocese. Mindful of the vow of obedience that I made before my ordination on February 8, 2008, it was necessary for me to accept the reassignment. On November 13th, I received the formal letter from Archbishop Gregory indicating my new assignment at St. Mary Magdalene would be effective on December 1, 2017.
Therefore, I must say farewell the faith community of St. George. Marie and I registered at St. George and first attended Mass here the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1985. Our last Sunday as parishioners at St. George was the Sunday after Thanksgiving 2017, exactly 32 years to the day from our first Sunday there. We are grateful for the many friendships we have at this wonderful parish and I am thankful for the opportunity that I have had to serve the people of this faith community as a deacon for almost 10 years. Their kindness and support will never be forgotten.
Finally, it has been a great honor and privilege for me to be able to serve at St. George as a layperson and as a deacon. I have spent more than half of my life as a parishioner at St. George and I will take with me wonderful memories of the welcoming, generous, and loving community that I am now leaving.
I look forward to my new assignment and the wonderful faith community we will be entering. I am confident that we will feel right at home there and forge many lasting friendships over the years.
May God bless you always.
Deacon Steve –