COLUMBIA—Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone ordained James Renaurd West Jr. to the transitional diaconate on May 18.
Family and friends crowded St. Joseph Church to witness the 27-year-old receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders and taking his vow of obedience and celibacy. On the altar, he was also surrounded by nearly 25 priests and his 11 brother seminarians.
Deacon West had come a long way to receive that precious sacrament. He grew up attending several different churches but felt drawn to Catholicism at age 15. He was received into the Catholic Church in 2001 and felt a call to the priesthood soon after. Though he is the only son of James West Sr. and June West, both parents said they were overjoyed to witness his dream coming to fruition. Bishop Guglielmone thanked them for their gift to the faith during his homily.
The word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonia, which means service. Bishop Guglielmone said that Jesus was moved by the troubled hearts and sense of abandonment in the lives of the many people He encountered. The Lord asked His disciples to pray for many servants in the vineyard so people’s needs could be met.
“Renaurd, respond generously to the call you have received,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “See the needs of the people you will be asked to serve and reach out to them in love and compassion.”
After the ordination Deacon West told The Miscellany the rite had moved him greatly, particularly during the Litany of the Saints when the congregation prayed aloud. Knowing the church was praying for him felt incredible, he said.
Over the next year Deacon West will be able to proclaim the Gospel and preach during Mass, administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, and officiate at funeral and burial services.