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On service and imitating Jesus: Bishop Malooly’s homily at the transitional deacon ordination

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Bishop Malooly ordained Lance Martin to the transitional diaconate for the Diocese of Wilmington June 7 at St. Ann’s Church in Wilmington. A “transitional” year of diaconate precedes ordination to the priesthood. The following is excerpted from the bishop’s homily at the ordination.

“Lance, when you gave some reflections to me, you remarked this feast day is a perfect day to be ordained a deacon. It’s the feast of Corpus Christi as we call it, the body and blood of our Lord. …

“You reflected that the Eucharistic meal allows ourselves to continually share of ourselves in a manner, which allows Christ’s presence to bear fruit in the lives of all people we come across in journey.

“The Eucharist gathers us together today as a community for family, friends. Many parishioners are here from parishes throughout the diocese as we celebrate the special feast and your ordination to the diaconate.

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Seminarian Lance Martin and Bishop Malooly gather in front of St. Ann’s Church in Wilmington prior to Martin’s ordination to the transitional diaconate, on Sunday, June 7. www.donblakephotography.com

“I was looking out at you earlier. I remembered my own diaconate 46 years ago. I was ordained … in my home parish, by my uncle who was an auxiliary bishop. I always look back on that year as a deacon as one of my favorites in my 46 years of ministry. … I hope that’s the case for you.

“This is a great day for me as a bishop, obviously. It’s a great day for you … and it’s a great day for the Diocese of Wilmington.

“You have grown and developed academically, spiritually and in interacting with people – all the special gifts that are necessary to be an outstanding deacon and eventually outstanding priest. I thank you very much for taking that journey and continuing that journey.

“Each of the three [Mass] readings talks about our relationship with God.

“The Book of Exodus talks about the covenant that God made with Moses and his people. …

“In Hebrews, we hear about the new covenant, Christ is the mediator of the new covenant with God. We hear in that reading his death has taken place for our deliverance, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.

“Then in the Gospel, we have St. Mark’s version of the Passover, which became the first Eucharist shortly before our Lord’s suffering and death.

“It goes back to the importance of the community. I was reading Pope Benedict’s first encyclical, ‘Deus Caritas Est,’ (God Is Love), where he talks about the importance of the community.

“He tells us, ‘If in my life I fail completely to heed others, solely out of a desire to be devout and to perform my religious duties’ — in other words if I just look to the Lord and ignore others — ‘them my relationship with God will grow arid. It becomes merely proper, but loveless.’

“He continues, ‘The saints … constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbor with their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbor are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment.’

“I would add that likewise, the Eucharist and service to others are inseparable. … There’s seldom an opportunity when I preach that I don’t mention the importance of service and imitating Jesus That is clearly what the diaconate is about.

“I ask you to continue to serve well, to enjoy this year as an ordained deacon, to continue your journey and to continue to make us proud of who you are and who you have become.

“For a very blessed year, I wish God’s many blessings on your, your family and your friends.”