CHARLESTON – Timothy Gahan, Andrew Trapp and Jeremi Wodecki have officially become members of the clergy and have accepted the responsibilities that entails. The three men were ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert J. Baker on May 20 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
In order to prepare for the priesthood, seminarians are required to serve as deacons for a minimum of six months. In his homily at the Mass, the bishop explained that “deacon” is derived from the Greek word “diakonos,” which means servant.
“The deacon is called to be a servant of Jesus Christ and his church,” Bishop Baker told the congregation. “As such he will help the bishop and the body of priests as minister of the word, of the altar, and of charity.”
During the ordination, the seminarians took the vow of obedience and celibacy. They also committed to praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The bishop offered them some words of wisdom.
“Your commitment to celi-bacy and to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours daily
is a mark of that holiness your diaconal service calls you to live out,” he said. “Through the celibate commitment you make today you are being linked to Christ with an undivided heart. In this way you are giving your heart totally to God, and your God will never abandon you.”
Father Richard Harris, director of vocations, said the men are now considered part of the clergy, a canonical classification for members of the church in holy orders. Some of the ministerial duties the deacons can now perform include baptism, funeral rites and wake services, and marriages outside of the Mass. They are allowed to proclaim the Gospel and to preach.
“It’s a tremendous amount of responsibility and they take it very seriously,” Father Harris said.
Pope Benedict XVI recently cautioned candidates for the priesthood against a spirit of careerism, saying that it undermines the true meaning of priesthood. Bishop Baker reminded the men of this during his homily.
“It sets one priest against another in competition,” he said. “Jesus reminded his followers that the last shall be first and he demonstrated the meaning of priestly service by washing his apostles’ feet at the Last Supper. Pope John Paul II once told some new bishops that their ministry, first and foremost, consisted in service to God, and out of love for God, service to all men and women. He also told them that our pastoral ministry cannot be measured in terms of bureaucratic organization or statistical data. He said holiness has other criteria for measurement.”
The bishop went on to remind the deacons of their duties.
“Service, celibacy and prayer are the pivotal characteristics of the grace of diaconal ordination that you receive today that bring you closer to the holiness of life that your ministry calls you to,” Bishop Baker said. “You become then a model of service and a model of holiness to all you are called to serve, now as a deacon, and one day as a priest.”
Deacon Gahan will be assigned to St. Mary, Our Lady of Ransom Church in Georgetown, Deacon Trapp to Prince of Peace Church in Taylors, and Deacon Wodecki to St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken.
In the fall they will go back to their seminaries for the final year. Deacon Gahan attends Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.; Deacon Trapp attends the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio; and Deacon Wodecki attends Sts. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake, Mich.
Also in the fall, Bryan Babick, Michael Cassabon and Jeffrey Kirby, who are attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate at St. Peter’s Basilica.