Dear Brothers & Sisters,
It is with great joy that I announce to you Cardinal Sean O’Malley has appointed the newly ordained transitional deacon Gabriel Hanley to our parish! He will complete his final year of seminary study before, God willing, becoming a priest. He will serve here in the parish over the summer, and when school starts in September, he will be here on the weekends. Over this announcement, I would like to share with you three points.
The first point that I would like to share is that God always listens to our prayers. Both many of you and myself have been praying for the Lord to send us help here in the parish. During these years that I have seen priests come and go, I also have seen how God answered our prayers differently. While we were praying asking God for help, we envisioned that he would send another priest. Instead, He answered our prayers by sending more people to help, who were not necessarily priests. There were a good number of volunteers who started helping us in different capacities in all three communities. I’m sure we could use some extra help, but it’s amazing the work that you people are doing. Whether decorating, teaching CCD, or helping the poor, everything is very essential. Even though we are receiving deacon Gabriel here, I’m still praying that more people come to the forefront to help us in more ways.
The second point I would like to share with you is the difference between the diaconate of Gabriel and that of deacon Chuck and Elcio. They were ordained as permanent deacons, which means that God has called them to serve the Church as deacons for the rest of their lives. This type of deacon can be a married man whose children are grown up or a single man as well. As we hear in the Acts of the Apostles, how the first deacons were “seven men acknowledged to be deeply spiritual and prudent, and [were appointed] to the task” of serving the needy. Nowadays, they serve in three ways as the word “deacon” means “service” in Greek (diakonia). The first way is assisting in charitable works. The second is serving at the Liturgy which includes celebrating baptisms, weddings, wakes and burials. The third way is to proclaim the Gospel, both literally at mass and to preach the word of God on different occasions. In the long past, all the deacons ended up becoming priests, and the order of deacons became a way for the priests to learn how to serve before their priestly ordination. Thus, the permanent diaconate was changed into the transitional, as it was a transitional time before becoming priests. Only after the Second Vatican Council the permanent diaconate was reestablished in the church. Technically, all priests still remain deacons as we are called to serve always.
The third and last point that I would like to bring about is regarding vocations. All vocations to married life, consecrated life, and priests are extremely necessary and very much needed. Soon I will write on both the consecrated and married life. Today, I would like to exhort parents, godparents, and grandparents to speak to the young (and not so young) men about the possibility of becoming priests. I hope that after all the priests that have served IC recently, you realize that everyone can become priests. We are all normal people, well, somehow normal, who play sports, cook, travel, read books, have friends etc…For the most part, we are also very happy, because it’s an awesome life. Part of the discernment to see if God calls them, is to have someone get them to think about it. No compromises…just a simple thought. If one of them is open to the idea, or would like to know more, we are happy to chat. I also would like to point out that next month Jun 22-25, there will be a retreat for high-school age youth (13-18) at Anna Maria College. The Archdiocese of Boston always puts together a yearly retreat for anyone who would like to know more about becoming a priest. The parish will gladly cover the cost of anyone interested to go. At times, all it takes is a simple nudge. I hope that this year in which we will accompany deacon Gabriel on his preparation to become a priest could spark a conversation or interest in the youth to follow God in a different way.
Please pray for Gabriel’s vocation and for the increase of vocations in the parish. For those who can, join us as we will be having a reception for him after the 11:00am Mass where you will have an opportunity to meet him.
Father Steven Clemence