||Bishop Robert C. Morlino receives the vows of candidate David Johannes during the Transitional Deaconate Ordination Mass on May 27 at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison. More photos can be found here. (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner)
MADISON -- Bishop Robert C. Morlino ordained David Gabriel Johannes to the Order of Deacons during a Mass on Friday, May 27, in the chapel of the Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center in Madison.
In welcoming those filling the chapel, Bishop Morlino said, "We give thanks as we receive the gift of David as a deacon from the Lord himself. We are grateful to David and his wonderful family. We are grateful to the priests and deacons visiting from Denver, including Msgr. Michael Glenn, rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (which Johannes attends). We're all family."
Bishop Morlino also welcomed his brother deacons and priests from the Diocese of Madison, who made the "sacrifice and effort" to attend the ordination in this busy season of weddings .
At the beginning of the ordination rite, Monsignor Glenn testified that Johannes "has been found worthy." Bishop Morlino then said, "Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose this man, our brother, for the Order of the diaconate." People in the chapel offered their enthusiastic applause.
Before the rite continued, Bishop Morlino preached the homily, noting that this is the first major step to be taken by Johannes towards offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He is being ordained as a transitional deacon and plans to be ordained to the priesthood in 2012. "We look forward to that great moment next year," said the bishop.
The promise of celibacy
The bishop reminded Johannes that as an ordained deacon, he would be promising to be celibate. "It's a sacrifice," said Bishop Morlino. "David wants nothing more than to be a husband and dad. He trusts God so much that he makes the sacrificial promise of celibacy.
"The Holy Spirit trains you for this spiritual exercise. It's a wonderful, joyful sacrificial moment."
In his homily, Bishop Morlino explained what the promise of celibacy has to do with being a faithful deacon or priest. "It's not strictly necessary. But in the Roman tradition, the Holy Spirit calls us to make that sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom."
Bishop Morlino said that the promise of celibacy "has everything to do with the quality of service and charity you will render."
The freedom to respond
He explained that celibacy will give Johannes the freedom to respond. "Your affections are not all tied up with one particular person or group," said Bishop Morlino. "Your total affection is tied up with God and his mother."
The bishop said that the Lord has given Johannes "a tremendous gift in relating to people." He quipped that he could be talking "to the future director of fund-raising for the diocese" since Johannes "relates so beautifully to so many people."
Bishop Morlino emphasized that celibacy is "truly a gift that empowers our service and our charity."
Witnessing to the truth
The bishop also said that celibacy is "the foundation of your witnessing to the truth of God's existence."
Our society has strange beliefs and practices. The bishop said he read about a couple who said they will raise their son as "genderless," and when he gets old enough, he'll decide which gender he wants to be.
"That's the dictatorship of relativism," said the bishop. "That kind of stuff is alive in our culture."
But God has a plan which is revealed in our mind and our body, he said. "A young man who could have a beautiful marriage and family -- your sacrifice is proof that God exists. You are the argument for the existence of God. You're not in this for the big bucks.
"The world will come to know God exists because they will know you and love you. Your celibacy becomes an invaluable tool for evangelization to teach the world that it belongs to God."
Celibacy is about joy
Bishop Morlino's last point was that celibacy is about joy. "Pope Paul VI said that celibacy is a precious jewel and it is a cross. It is both. It's a mystery. It has to come as a gift that frees you to service, charity, and witness."
The bishop said celibacy leaves a deacon and a priest "joyful at the deepest level of the soul where the Holy Spirit marks you with an indelible mark. It leaves you as an icon of service."
After the homily, Johannes declared his resolve to be consecrated for the Church's ministry, to live in the celibate state, to conform his life to the example of Christ, and to respect and obey the bishop and his successors.
The congregation prayed a Litany of Supplication as Johannes lay prostrate. The bishop then lay his hands on Johannes and consecrated him as a deacon. He gave him the Book of the Gospels and told him to "believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."
Deacon Jack Fernan vested Deacon Johannes, who was welcomed by other deacons present.
Presenting the Offertory gifts were the new deacon's parents, Azminda Jones and Fred Johannes, along with brothers Henry, Michael, and Louis.