Persons, places and things: A piece of heaven

Barb Arland-Fye

As worshippers including myself sang the lyrical “Litany of the Saints” at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport April 28, my eyes focused on the man prostrate on the cathedral floor awaiting ordination to the diaconate.
If the sweet sound of our voices accompanied by a choir, trumpet and violin had such an emotional pull on me, what could be going through the mind of Jacob Greiner, the seminarian who was about to be ordained to the diaconate?
While cantor Paul Temple invoked the names of saints (including saints who were deacons) and we
responded by asking them to intercede on behalf of Jacob, my thoughts alternated between his faith journey and my own. I thought about the holy men and women named, who had lived long before all of us in the congregation but were connected to us in faith.
I wondered if more Catholics came together for celebrations like this one, could we close the yawning fissures on issues that keep us from being a community of faith in the fullest sense of that term.
The Litany of Saints evokes memories of my own circle of the communion of saints: the loved ones who’ve gone before me and whose absence I feel more acutely when we sing this litany.
But the litany also reminds me of perseverance, a companion of faith. I thought about my husband and our two sons and the experiences that have shaped each of us. While we wouldn’t choose to relive some of those experiences, we are closer, more tightly bonded for having gone through them together.
Attending and covering ordination Masses for deacons and priests has been one of the privileges I’ve especially enjoyed during 10 years with The Catholic Messenger. Prior to that time, I wouldn’t have thought of attending an ordination Mass, incorrectly assuming that it was intended for the clergy and their families only.
But ordination Masses are meant to be celebrated by the Church, our diocesan community of faith. These liturgies provide an opportunity to affirm our faith and to be affirming toward those who have chosen to give the gift of themselves in ministry to God and the diocesan Church.
During the Election of the Candidate in the Liturgy of Ordination, after Vocations Director Father Thom Hennen testified that Jacob Greiner “has been formed worthily,” Bishop Martin Amos declared: “We choose this man, our brother, for the diaconate.”
The people of the diocese — those of us who witnessed the testimony – applauded as a sign of our approval. In turn, Jacob promised faithful service, obedience and lifelong celibacy as an ordained minister of the Catholic Church “with the help of God.”
Bilhildis Burns of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport sat behind me during the Liturgy of Ordination to the Diaconate. She told me afterwards that she makes a point of attending diocesan-wide Masses. She wished all of the seats had been filled for Jacob’s ordination to the diaconate. “It’s so wonderful and so important,” she said. “It’s like a little piece of heaven to me.”
Barb Arland-Fye

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