By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Following his ordination as a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Davenport, Deacon Joseph Nguyen said he feels confident he is answering God’s call on his journey to the priesthood.
Bishop Martin Amos ordained Deacon Nguyen as a transitional deacon Oct. 24 during a Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport. A transitional deacon is a celibate man who is ordained a deacon and intends to become a priest.
Deacon Nguyen, 34, a native of Vietnam, entered the cathedral following seminarians who were serving at the Mass. Deacons and priests from in and outside the diocese, Bishop William Franklin, retired bishop of the diocese, and Bishop Amos followed.
During the homily, Bishop Amos talked about the ancient rituals in the church that were a part of the ordination.
“Through the laying on of hands and the words of ordination, Joseph, you will enter the order of deacons and share in the ordained ministry of Jesus the high priest.”
The bishop said the deacon does not receive the imposition of hands unto priesthood, but unto ministry and that all three degrees of ordination — bishop, priest and deacon — are conferred by the sacramental act of ordination.
“By placing your life at the service of the believing community you will establish a permanent relationship with church. Be a sacramental sign, a servant leader. You will be configured more closely to Christ who made himself the deacon, the servant, of all. Since it is a permanent character, it will be part of your life hopefully as a priest in the future.”
The ministry of the deacon is described as one of service in three areas, Bishop Amos said: the Gospel, the liturgy and works of charity.
In service of the Gospel “you will proclaim the Gospel during the liturgy of the Eucharist, preach and teach. Underlying that ministry and supporting that simple statement are many things. You must continue your intellectual understanding especially of the Scriptures, but also of theology if you are to preach and teach authentically.”
Liturgical ministry includes “various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when holy Communion is administered under both kinds. In addition you will be an ordinary minister of the sacrament of baptism, serve as the church’s witness at the sacrament of marriage, preside at funeral rites outside of Mass and you are also to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the church.”
The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized. “Underlying that ministry is a call to your own simplicity of life, to have particular concern for the voiceless and to work with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry.”
The bishop noted that an ordained deacon finds himself at the service of all the baptized.
At the end of the homily, Bishop Amos encouraged Nguyen to “continue to study, continue your formation and take care of yourself.”
Following the homily, Nguyen made his promise of the elect. During the litany of the saints, the congregation knelt while Nguyen lay prostrate in front of the sanctuary. Laying on of hands and prayer of ordination followed.
Two visiting deacons placed the diaconal stole and dalmatic on Nguyen. Then the bishop handed the book of the Gospels to Nguyen. At the sign of peace, Bishop Amos welcomed Deacon Nguyen to the ministry and deacons welcomed him to the order.
During the liturgy of the Eucharist, Deacon Nguyen began his new role of deacon by preparing the gifts at the altar for Communion.
Following the ordination Mass, Deacon Nguyen said he will finish up classes this semester, and then serve as a deacon at a parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago, where Mundelein Seminary is located.
Upon completion of his theology studies, he hopes to be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Davenport on May 22, 2010, at Sacred Heart Cathedral.