Thursday, November 23, 2017

Double Ordination Joy

DOUBLE DIACONATE ORDINATION: Two permanent deacons were ordained for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh on Saturday 16 September, the Feast of St Ninian, with the ordination of Deacon Pat Carrigan and Deacon Gerry Sheridan at St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral in Edinburgh.

 

“The example of St Ninian, that early soldier of Christ in our land, is a great example to us all, of what it is to be completely dedicated to the mission: that mission for the men you see here today, is to preach the gospel here in our land, in season and out of season,” said Archbishop Leo Cushley in his homily.

“They ask today to be raised to the dignity of reader and to the diaconate. But when I say “raised” and “dignity”, I mean it in the correct sense, as the “dignity” of a deacon is one that is, by its very name, defined as service, and makes of these men servants of all and slaves of all.”

Deacon Pat Carrigan is a retired police officer and a parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes in Dunfermline. He is married with three children and four grandchildren. Deacon Gerry Sheridan is also married with three children and four grandchildren, albeit the fourth is still in utero. He is a retired Development Officer with East Lothian Council and a parishioner of Our Lady of the Waves, Dunbar.

“I’m relieved, absolutely relieved,” said Deacon Pat Carrigan following his ordination, “it’s been a manic week but with two minute prior to the beginning of Mass, suddenly there was peace, calm. It’s been good to journey towards this day with this man, Gerry.”

“It’s hard to put how I feel into words,” said Deacon Gerry Sheridan in response, “I’m probably more nervous now than an hour ago, just before the ordination, as the reality of the diaconate now hits home. I’m in awe.”

Deacons may baptise, proclaim the Gospel, preach the homily, assist the bishop or priest in the celebration of the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages, and preside at funerals. They also dedicate themselves to charitable endeavours, which was often their role in the early Church.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has restored the diaconate as a permanent rank within the hierarchy of Holy Orders as opposed to “transitory” deacons who will, in due course, be ordained to the priesthood. Permanent deacons can be either married or unmarried men.

Meanwhile, Eddie White of St John’s in Portobello took a further step towards becoming a permanent deacon as he was instituted as a lector by Archbishop Cushley.

“It’s a great feeling to be part of this process,” said Eddie, “this isn’t just an individual journey and I really felt like people were sharing with me in this today.”

 

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh, 

Diaconate Ordination and Institution of Lectors, 

St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh,

16 September 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

First of all, I’m pleased to welcome the wives and families and friends of Eddie White, of Pat Carrigan and of Gerry Sheridan. I’m also grateful to my fellow priests and deacons who have joined us on this happy occasion. Thanks also to the Cathedral parish and to Fr Boyle for preparing the liturgy this today. I’m particularly grateful to Fr Paul Kelly, director of the permanent diaconate programme for all that he does to promote the diaconate in the diocese.

The diaconate and its permanent component is an important part of the life of the Church, and I hope it will continue to grow and to contribute more and more by its example of virtue, the quality of its preaching, and the standard of its dedication to the service to the People of God.

As we gather to confer the lectorate on one man and to ordain two others to the diaconate, by happy chance, we do so on the Feast of St Ninian of Galloway. Ninian was the first missionary that we know of to come to Scotland with the Catholic faith. He lived and worked in the south west corner of Galloway at Withorn. Although we don’t know much about him, he is no less real for that. We certainly know a lot about his context, and we know what he left behind. Circumstances tell us that he knew St Martin of Tours, who died in 397 AD. This apparently little detail – that he knew St Martin - turns out to be very significant indeed for us.

St Martin was the saintly superstar of his day. He started off as a Roman soldier but later became a monk, and during his life, and long after his death, he had an enormous influence on his contemporary church, far beyond his monasteries’ walls. Also, alive at the same time as Martin and Ninian were some of the greatest luminaries of the entire history of Western Catholicism: people like St Ambrose of Milan, and his great convert St Augustine; St Jerome was translating the Sacred Scriptures into the common language of the people of Europe; the Pope had just ordered the liturgy to be put into the vernacular of the day; as the Roman empire crumbled, the Catholic Church in the West, curiously enough, began to hit her stride. And St Martin of Tours, in the midst of this, looked to his experience as a soldier, and took the training, discipline, professionalism and obedience of the soldier and applied it to… to what? He applied it to following Christ.

As a result, he became an outstanding example of what it is to be, not a miles imperii, a solider of the empire, but a miles Christi, a soldier of Christ. And this idea and this term, of being a “soldier of Christ”, somehow snuck into the Catholic culture of early Scots Catholicism. We know of St Martin’s influence here, because St Ninian, on learning of Martin’s death in 397, dedicated his mission here to him. And we can trace devotion to St Martin, through Ninian’s influence, by the spread of place names and the dedications of the very oldest churches in Scotland. Not long after Ninian, another miles Christi, another soldier of Christ, picks up on the example of St Martin, and his name was Columba of Iona. Outside the abbey on Iona, to this day, stands the ancient Cross of St Martin, dating back to at least the 8th century. Columba and his monks referred to the best of their own as milites Christi, soldiers of Christ, because they too drew upon the training, discipline and obedience of soldiers, like Martin and Ninian before them, to strengthen themselves for their mission.

That devotion reconquered much of Europe for the faith in the centuries to come, and “Scots’” founded abbeys still exist to this day throughout Europe.

So the example of St Ninian, that early soldier of Christ in our land, is a great example to us all, of what it is to be completely dedicated to the mission. That mission for the men you see here today, is to preach the gospel here in our land, in season and out of season. They ask today to be raised to the dignity of reader and to the diaconate. But when I say “raised” and “dignity”, I mean it in the correct sense, as the “dignity” of a deacon is one that is, by its very name, defined as service, and makes of these men servants of all and slaves of all. By offering themselves here today, they show that they wish to be servants of Christ and the slaves of his people.

The opening antiphon in the Office of Readings today, for the Feast of St Ninian, states: “if anyone wishes to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all”. Eddie, by the exercise of the office of reader, continue to prepare yourself, as this will be your task soon. Patrick, Gerard, take this antiphon’s text to heart in a special way, and dedicate yourselves to your new service as deacons by never losing sight of your training, discipline, professionalism, and obedience. Offer yourselves daily to Christ, today and from now on; live out in both word and example the Gospel that you preach; and in doing so, you will imitate not only St Ninian, the first soldier of Christ in our land, but the Lord himself, our great Deacon, who showed us on the Cross how to be last of all and servant of all.