“It feels real,” said newly ordained Deacon Augustine Mang. “As soon as I walked in at the entrance, as I was processing in, it hit me, ‘This is the Mass for my diaconate ordination.’”
Deacon Mang, along with Deacon Oscar Romero, were ordained to the transitional diaconate during a special Mass Saturday, April 9, in Sagrado Corazon Church at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville.
The Mass was celebrated by Bishop J. Mark Spalding, with several priests of the Diocese of Nashville serving as concelebrants.
“It is a great day for the Church here in the Diocese of Nashville,” said Bishop Spalding during his homily. “Be mindful that this important step you make to the transitional diaconate is preparing you for the next year or so for priesthood, God willing, and we pray for you each and every day.
“I’ve been praying for you these many years since I’ve been here as Bishop, and, in some ways, today is an answer to prayers for all of us,” he said.
The ordination to the transitional diaconate came after more than five years of discernment and study for Deacons Mang and Romero and was the final benchmark in their formation as they prepare to be ordained to the priesthood in 2023.
During the Mass, in honor of the heritage of the ordinands, the readings were heard in a variety of languages including Burmese and Spanish.
“This is the Church,” Bishop Spalding said. “At this great occasion, we see the variety of our Church and how God uses all the gifts of the various languages and cultures and peoples and brings them around word and sacrament, brings them together and makes us one in Christ Jesus.
“Our ministry together is to build those bridges and to make sure people see that we’re so much better when we’re together in Christ,” he said. “Though we may have different languages, different cultures, different colors, different foods, it’s amazing and beautiful, and we bring all those around the table.”
With their ordination as deacons, Deacon Mang and Deacon Romero will be able to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism, witness marriages, read the Gospel, and preach at Mass. Deacon Romero will proclaim the Gospel for the very first time at the Chrism Mass on Tuesday, April 12.
“Hopefully, I’ll do a very good job,” he said.
“Augustine and Oscar, take in this great celebration. Live the words of the ordination rite today that we celebrate,” Bishop Spalding said. “Today, in a special way, when we ordain you to the diaconate, you are men of the word, the word made flesh who came and dwelt among us, who gave his very life for us, and we are going to celebrate that so profoundly in the (Holy Week) before us, and especially in your diaconate role. Preach the word, teach it well.
“You in the diaconate remind us as a Church to open our eyes and see those on the margins, to open our hearts and love and care for others who, through no fault of their own, are hurt and wounded in this world and lift them up and bring them to the Church,” he continued. “Deacons especially bring the Church to the poor and the poor to the Church, and you in your preaching and teaching, in your very lives and your witness to Christ, you’re to remind all of us, open your eyes, open your hearts, see those weak and wounded from the very foundation of the diaconate. The widowed, the orphaned, the poor, you’re ordained to serve them and remind us to serve them as well.”
Following the homily, the ordination began with the promise of the elect. Throughout, Deacons Mang and Romero said, “I do” to six promises before kneeling before Bishop Spalding and joining their hands with his as they made their final promise of respect and obedience to him and his successors.
“I will cherish the gifts that I now receive in the Church,” Bishop Spalding said, during the homily. “In the promise of respect and obedience to me, you’re mine, but I’m yours, too.”
Following the promises, Deacons Mang and Romero prostrated themselves as Bishop Spalding and all in the congregation knelt down for the Litany of Supplication, a moment that Deacon Mang said was an emotional one.
“As soon as I prostrated, I felt something, and it gave me a lot of emotion,” Deacon Mang said. “When they were calling different saints, like St. Peter and St. Paul, it brought me back to the basilica I was at in Rome” where he has been completing his seminarian studies while living at the Pontifical North American College.
“When they called the saints, I thought, ‘I know where some of the saints were buried, I prayed in front of them,’ and so I was able to participate actively rather than passively,” he said. “I was fully aware, and when the names of the saints were called, I thought ‘I know you. I was there,’ and it started feeling like they were my friends praying for me from heaven. That was a really touching moment for me.”
Following the Litany of Supplication, Bishop Spalding laid his hands on each of the candidates before they both knelt before him as he prayed the Prayer of Ordination.
“As once you chose the sons of Levi to minister in the former tabernacle, so now you establish three ranks of ministers in their sacred offices to serve your name. Thus, in the first days of your Church, your Son’s Apostles, led by the Holy Spirit, appointed seven men of good repute to help them in the daily ministry, so that they might devote themselves more fully to prayer and the preaching of the word,” part of the prayer reads. “By prayer and the laying on of hands, they entrusted to these chosen men the ministry of serving at table. Look favorably also on these your servants, we pray, O Lord, whom we humbly dedicated to serve at your holy altars in the office of the Diaconate.”
After the Prayer of Ordination, Deacons Mang and Romero were officially vested in their diaconate stoles and dalmatics before they knelt before Bishop Spalding one final time to receive the Book of the Gospels.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become,” Bishop Spalding said. “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Finally, with Bishop Spalding, their fellow deacons and each other, Deacon Mang and Deacon Romero shared the Kiss of Peace, before they joined Bishop Spalding on the altar for the remainder of the Mass.
“I loved every part of the Mass,” Deacon Romero said. “But mostly, I love the last reverence to the altar because, in my (Latin) culture, the priest or the deacon, now the transitional deacon, gets married to the Church.
“The altar being Christ also, it is almost like what Teresa of Avila said, it is the love and the beloved,” he said. “Now, I think about it, and I’m finally going to be able to have that relationship with God and especially with Christ.”
Gallery photos by Katie Peterson and Rick Musacchio