Congratulations to our two newest permanent deacons, Deacon ‘Bugsy’ Sindac and Deacon Doug McIlvaine, who were ordained yesterday at the Cathedral of the Diocese of Joliet! You’ve seen them up in the sanctuary as Eucharistic ministers, lectors, and visitors to the homebound, but now they’ll have their own chair in the sanctuary, proclaim the Gospel, perform baptisms, witness marriages, offer blessings, and even preach! Like for priests and bishops, the sacrament of holy orders is not just a position, or even an occupation, but a vocation—a calling. It’s a call to diakoneō, the Greek word for service.
Sacraments, simply put, are visible signs of invisible realities, instituted by Christ, which give grace. While all of us are meant to be visible signs of Jesus in the world (we’re part of the Mystical Body of Christ after all!), and while all of us are called to some form of service, when it comes to deacons, they’re consecrated as sacramental signs of Christ the servant. They’re called from within the parish community to serve at the altar, at the parish, and at the margins of society in a uniquely sacramental way. Whether it’s at Mass, in our many ministries, or at Hesed House, their configuration to Jesus in the sacrament of holy orders gives them a special authority to act on behalf of both Jesus and His Church in various ways.
Of course, the only reason why bishops, priests, and deacons have any ‘special authority’ at all is because Our Lord Himself chose to share His authority with His Church in a sacramental way. He mirrored the structure of His new covenant after that of the old: with twelve apostles mirroring the twelve sons of Israel; and with bishops, priests, and deacons mirroring the three-fold hierarchy of the Temple: high priest, priests, and Levites. These structures are like the structures of the human body with each part relying on the other in for its own unique contribution. (cf. 1 Cor 12) So, just as the old covenant Temple system was meant to be a bridge between God and man, we look forward to the ways in which these men will be a bridge for our parish community to the God who “came not to be served but to serve”! (Matt 20:28) May God bless Deacon Bugsy and Deacon Doug!