David Runnion and Marcin Zahuta ordained to the transitional diaconate


CHARLESTON — May 21 was a momentous day for Marcin Zahuta and David Alan Runnion in their paths to the priesthood. The two men were ordained as deacons by Bishop Robert J. Baker in a special Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

According to canon law, those preparing for the priesthood must serve as a deacon for at least six months prior to becoming a priest. Both men are expected to be ordained in June 2006.

In Bishop Baker’s homily he reminded the men of the meaning of the word “deacon,” or servant.

“The deacon is called to be a servant of Jesus Christ,” said Bishop Baker. “As such, he will help the bishop and the body of priests as minister of the Word, of the altar, and of charity.”

He urged Zahuta and Runnion to view the transitional diaconate as integral in their formation as Christians and priests. He also reminded them of the importance of their commitment to celibacy.

“Today, David and Marcin, you are being linked to Christ with an undivided heart; in this way you are giving your heart totally to God,” he said. “May you always maintain your deep devotion to the Lord, undivided in loyalty and faithful to your commitment to celibacy.”

In conclusion he implored the newly ordained to remain faithful to a life of daily prayer.

“Remain faithful to the great prayer of the church every day, and God will be your partner in all you do throughout your life,” Bishop Baker said.

Zahuta came from Poland to the United States because of the extreme need for priests.

“I wanted to be a missionary in South America, but when I saw the shortage of priests in the U.S. I decided that this was my mission field,” said the 27-year-old. “I chose this diocese from all the places in America because the need here is so great.”

He is expected to receive his master’s degree in divinity in December from St. Cyril Methodius Seminary in Michigan.

Zahuta attributes his call to the priesthood to his mother’s prayers.

“She led me through prayer and example. My family couldn’t be here today but my family is within the universal church,” he said.

Zahuta will serve at St. Philip Benizi in Moncks Corner.

<>Like Zahuta, David Alan Runnion chose to come to the Diocese of Charleston from another state because of the priest shortage, but the similarities end there.

Runnion, 57, has spent the past 20 years working for the state attorney general’s office in Georgia.

He sought out the priesthood after a period of discernment.

“I felt a distinct call and after meeting with Bishop Baker and the vocations board, all the lights seemed to be green,” Runnion said. He finishes his final year at Blessed John XXIII in Weston, Mass., next spring.

“I love the Lord and the people in his church,” he said.

It came as no surprise to Bee Runnion that her son was called to the priesthood.

“I have prayed for years that God would fill the need for vocations, so when David told me, I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “The only surprise is that God waited so long to call him. What a blessing that God answered my prayer by calling someone from my womb.”

Runnion’s family and friends came from Atlanta to attend his special day. All spoke of his intense love for God and his people.

“He will bring the light of Jesus to the priesthood,” said Fay Runnion, his sister-in-law. “David has a love for the Word and he’ll live it and bring it.”

Runnion will serve at Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant during the summer months.

Father H. Gregory West, J.C.L, vicar for vocations and pastor of St. Gregory the Great in Bluffton, said that he was impressed that these two men have dedicated their entire lives to the faithful in South Carolina.

“Neither of these men are from here, and I am proud that they’ve made the decision to serve us here,” he said.