A Year of Transitions
I have enjoyed being a transitional deacon and the many blessings that come with it. One of the blessings of diaconal ministry has been preaching because of how mystical the homily preparation is. I can pray over the scriptures and ask God what He wants me to share with his people that day. Preaching at mass is also quite energizing as the Good News reaches the hearts of the Christian faithful.
Transition from ‘Discernment’ to ‘Preparation’
While there are many blessings in the life of a transitional deacon, there are many transitions as well. There is a transition into ordained ministry and living out the three promises (obedience, celibacy, and simplicity of life). We are no longer discerning priesthood but rather preparing for it.
Growing into Public Ministry
Another transition is getting used to being called “Deacon” when doing public ministry and not just “James”. Ordained ministry requires a higher degree of professionalism in regards to liturgical presence and pastoral interactions. Fortunately, the sacrament of Holy Orders and provides many graces to fulfill the duties of ordained life. Seminary and post-seminary mentoring also help continue to develop the pastoral skills for ministry.
Transitioning from Seminary into Parish Life
The biggest transition is getting ready to leave the seminary environment and enter into full-time ministry in the parish. Many of our discussions are based on the book From Seminarian to Diocesan Priest by Father J. Ronald Knott on how to make this transition. Discussions include: finding a spiritual director, having a network of brother priests to talk to, and making sure we can continue living a heathy and balanced life as parish priests.
Looking Ahead to Priesthood
Preparing for ordination and the first mass of Thanksgiving have been very exciting because of the parishioners, priests, family members, and friends that have been journeying with me during my formation experience. I look forward to remembering and praying for them as I celebrate my first mass.
Selecting a chalice is also a spiritual experience when preparing for ordination. The chalice I ended up choosing is based on John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” This verse has always spoken to me throughout my life because of the importance of remaining connected to Christ. I pray that my life as a future priest will bear much fruit. The prayers and support of many individuals have been such a blessing the last six years of seminary. Please continue to keep the Richmond seminarians in your prayers.