COLUMBIA—Roger Morgan and Richard Wilson experienced a milestone moment in their lives when they were ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on May 16.
The ordinations were held before several hundred friends, family and well-wishers who packed St. Joseph Church. Twenty priests also attended.
The transitional diaconate is the final step men must achieve before they are ordained to the priesthood.
Over the next year, the new deacons will be able to proclaim the Gospel and preach during Mass, administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, and officiate at burial and funeral services.
In his homily, Bishop Guglielmone described the duties Morgan and Wilson will now perform as deacons, and said they are part of a tradition of service that has been passed down to today’s Church from Christ Himself.
“Strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will help the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the Word, the altar and of charity, showing themselves to be servants to all,” he said. “With the help of God, they are to go about all these duties in such a way that you will recognize them as disciples of Him who came not to be served, but to serve.”
He encouraged the men to look to Christ as the prime example of how to sacrifice selfish desires for the greater sake of the people of God.
“Be guided by a spirit of compassion, a sense of longing for the presence of God that so many in our contemporary society long for,” the bishop said. “You know what lies in the hearts of so many people, and how difficult the struggle of just going day by day is for many. It is our task to point to the presence of the Lord in their lives so that they might be lifted up.”
Bishop Guglielmone called the transitional diaconate “not simply a step toward priesthood, but an opportunity to bring hope and love to those who are in need.”
“Remember, my brothers, that this ministry is not about you,” he said. “Rather, it is a response that you offer to the Lord.”
CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE ORDINATION VIDEO
Both new deacons found the Catholic faith as adults, and discovered a call to serve God as priests shortly after their conversions.
During his 20s, Morgan was searching for God in his life when he encountered and studied the Catholic Church and joined the faith. He has said he felt the call to the priesthood at age 31 and started applying to the seminary at age 35. Before that, he graduated from the School of Culinary Arts in Atlanta and spent about 15 years working as a cook and chef in Atlanta, Minnesota, and Texas.
“Being ordained a deacon is exciting and it feels like a fulfillment of so many years of work,” Morgan said. “I’m now really looking forward to proclaiming the Gospel at Mass and I’m looking forward to being able to preach. Those were some of the things that attracted me to the priesthood originally.”
Deacon Morgan said the year of seminary he just completed was one of his most challenging yet, especially a homiletics course that helped him begin to learn how to write and give homilies.
Morgan, 40, will spend the summer in Oakland, Calif., studying in a Spanish language immersion program.
Deacon Wilson, 62, was raised Lutheran in a family of eight in Minnesota. After retiring from the U.S. Army as a colonel in 1994, he was working as a financial advisor in Anderson when he became interested in Catholicism. He joined the Church in 1998 and started considering the priesthood in 2005. His home parish is St. Joseph Church in Anderson.
“It’s extremely exciting to become a deacon,” he said. “One of the other deacons at the seminary described the time in seminary as a ‘quick slowness,’ and that’s kind of what it’s like. Things sometimes seem to go very slowly in seminary and then all of sudden wow! Here we are!”
Deacon Wilson has been assigned to Blessed Sacrament Church in Charleston for the summer.
Both men will return to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston in the fall to complete their fourth and final year of theology studies.