By Barb Arland-Fye
DAVENPORT — Deacon Jacob Greiner’s facial expressions conveyed the joy he felt at being ordained a deacon April 28 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. So did the bear hugs he gave during the sign of peace and after his ordination Mass.
Even in the euphoria of accepting this new ministry as a transitional deacon, Deacon Greiner contemplated the responsibilities that Bishop Martin Amos described in his homily. He noted that a year from now, hopefully, Deacon Greiner will be ordained a priest.
The bishop described how the ministry of the deacon has evolved over the centuries as one of service to the Gospel, the liturgy and works of charity.
“In service of the Gospel Jacob, you will proclaim the Gospel during the liturgy of the Eucharist, preach and teach. You must continue your intellectual understanding, especially of the Scriptures but also of theology if you are to preach and teach authentically. Underlying that is your own encounter with the Gospel and the Word.
“When I present the Scriptures to you in a few minutes I will admonish you to ‘believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.’ So your preaching and teaching must flow from your prayerful reading and practice of the Gospel virtues.
“In service of the liturgy: your 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 and preside at funeral rites outside of Mass. You are also to pray the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church.
“Underlying that ministry and supporting that simple statement are many things: attentiveness and reverence to the sacred which is entrusted to you; a deep appreciation of the Eucharist as the font and summit of all you do; prayer, especially before the Blessed Sacrament and for and with the People of God.
“In service of works of charity: the ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized. Much of the deacon’s charity is behind the scenes. 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.”
Bishop Amos advised the seminarian to continue to deepen his relationship with Jesus and to conform his life to Jesus, “who came not to be served, but to serve.” The deacon should strive for balance during his final year of seminary, “realizing you will need to do these same things hopefully in a parish assignment next year in the diocese.”
The Litany of Supplication followed, during which the seminarian lay face down on the cathedral floor at the foot of the sanctuary.
“Bishop Amos’ homily was a beautiful reflection on the order of deacons, and all of these exhortations were on my mind,” Deacon Greiner said. “The litany of Saints, which is sung during the prostration, was extremely consoling. The Catholic Church, especially the prayers of the saints, is interceding on my behalf before God, whom I will be dedicated to serve as a deacon. I was also tremendously thankful for the gift of the communion of saints.”
Twenty-four priests, 12 deacons, approximately 20 brother seminarians, Deacon Greiner’s parents, sister, brother, other relatives and well-wishers were present for the long-awaited ordination. Deacon Jeremy Ploof, a transitional deacon for the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minn., and a good friend, vested Deacon Greiner. Both are studying at St. Paul School of Theology in St. Paul, Minn.
Other classmates of Deacon Greiner who attended his ordination are looking forward to their own ordination next Sunday in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
“I was listening to the questions the bishop was asking and preparing in my heart the answers I will give next week,” said Luke Marquard. “I felt like he (Bishop Amos) was talking to me.” Marquard said he also felt great joy “for my brother,” Deacon Greiner.
Jennifer Stevens had the privilege of doing the first reading for her brother’s ordination Mass. “I felt very honored, blessed and very proud of Jake and his accomplishments.”
His parents, Kathy and Kevin Greiner of Holy Trinity Parish in Keota, were grateful as well. “It’s been a long road with a few bumps; we’re here now and that’s what counts,” Kathy Greiner said.
Deacon Greiner has felt a call to the priesthood since childhood, but struggled with whether he was being called to a religious community or a diocese. He served five years with the Congregation of Holy Cross at the University of Notre Dame before discerning a vocation to diocesan priesthood.
“I have a great desire to serve the Catholic Church, and I prayed about how the Lord wanted me to serve his Church … It became clear that the Lord wanted to use my talents and gifts to serve as a diocesan priest, and I have spent that last three years confirming this call through my seminary formation.”
Deacon Greiner has a busy ordination weekend
Newly ordained Deacon Jacob Greiner didn’t stop to savor the moment. He preached at four different Masses the weekend of April 28-29 in the Diocese of Davenport.
“I preached at Holy Trinity Parish in Keota and St. Mary’s in Sigourney. The chance to preach was a complete joy since Holy Trinity is my home parish, and I have been serving as an MC (master of ceremonies) at St. Mary’s for the last three years. This was a chance for me to demonstrate that each of these parishes have played an important part in my life as a seminarian. I am tired today, but I am truly blessed by all of the tremendous graces that have flowed from my ordination and the opportunity to serve as a deacon at four Masses in my home diocese. I almost view my serving as an opportunity to say thank you to the people of the diocese for their prayers and support.”