By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
One by one, the 11 deacon candidates placed their hands on a 130-year-old Bible from diocesan archives, promising to live out and share the powerful message of its ancient, holy words.
“Be faithful to handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people,” Bishop Martin Amos instructed during the Rite of Installation into the Ministry of Lector. The ceremony took place July 12 at Sacred Heart Church in Newton.
According to the church’s law and practice, the instituted lector is charged with proclaiming the readings from the Sacred Scriptures (except for the Gospel), announcing the intentions in the Prayer of the Faithful (in the absence of a deacon), and reciting or singing the responsorial psalm if there is no cantor. As distinct from the typical parish reader, these men will now exercise this ministry in a permanent way, said Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of Deacon Formation.
During the rite, Bishop Amos blessed the men, praying to the Lord, “Grant that as they meditate constantly on your word they may grow in wisdom and faithfully proclaim it to your people.”
“I take it as an awesome responsibility,” said deacon candidate Tom Hardie of St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville. “If you don’t do it with a kind heart, you can lead people astray. You must live, learn and proclaim (the Word of God) with all sincerity, and not have them be hollow words.”
The Rite of Installation into the Ministry of Lector is the latest milestone on Deacon Class VII’s journey to the diaconate. The 11 men, with support from their wives, have been through one year of inquiry, two years of aspirancy and are now one year into a three-year candidacy period.
Deacon Agnoli said the deacon candidates have worked hard to get to this point. “We keep them busy,” he said with a chuckle. In their first year of candidacy the deacon candidates were active in liturgical ministry within their parishes, performed 50 hours of pastoral ministry work and met with deacon mentors and spiritual directors. They dedicated one weekend a month to in-classroom theology courses and spent countless hours at home studying and writing. Wives are required to attend two weekend classes a year with their husbands, though they are welcome to attend as often as they wish. The deacon candidates will continue at this pace for the next two years.
Deacon candidates said their journey can feel like a marathon at times. Installation rites offer a much-needed boost as they continue on their path. After the Mass, the deacon candidates walked to the back of the church, unable to keep from smiling. They embraced each other and were soon wrapped in the loving arms of their wives, children and grandchildren. “We’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go,” said Steve Barton, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport. He held tightly to his grandson, Zeke, after the Mass, as his beaming wife, Rosie, took photographs. “It’s nice to have these celebrations along the way,” he said.
Karl Lantzky, also a member of St. Paul the Apostle, was greeted by his wife, Kathy, and two adult children. “This was a challenging year for me, so making it to this point has been very special. It helps me recognize and confirm my commitment to formation and to follow the call of Jesus to become a deacon. I’m coming over a hill and filled with hope for the future.”
God-willing, the candidates will be ordained as permanent deacons in 2017. “All the challenges are small compared to the good we can do,” said candidate Joe Rohret of St. Peter Parish in Cosgrove.
Jim Barber (Chris), Holy Family Parish in Davenport; Steve Barton (Rosie), St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport; Dan Freeman (Judy), St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass; Tom Hardie (Mary), St. Anthony Parish in Knoxville; John Jacobsen (Tracey), St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport; Chris Kabat (Julie), St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City; Karl Lantzky (Kathy), St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport; Joe Rohret (Tammy), St. Peter Parish in Cosgrove; Mike Snyder (Patty), Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf; Lowell Van Wyk (Denise), St. Mary Parish in Pella; and Joseph Welter (Katie), St. Mary Parish in Iowa City.