Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne ordained four men to the permanent diaconate at a special Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral Sept. 26.

The men ordained are: Deacon George Flower who will serve at St. John the Baptist/St. Anthony/St. Mary churches in Enosburg/Sheldon/Franklin; Armand Auclair who will serve All Saints/St. Isidore/Our Lady of Lourdes in Richford/Montogomery Center and East Berkshire; Paul Kendall serving Holy Family Parish in Springfield and Chester; and Tom McCormick serving St. Francis Xavier Church in Winooski.

“The permanent deacon is ordered to the ministry of the altar, the ministry of the word and the ministry of charity,” Bishop Coyne said.

As ministers of the word, deacons serve as evangelizers and teachers. As ministers of the liturgy, they assist not only the priest at the altar but also the gathered assembly throughout the liturgy.

Deacons may preside at other liturgical functions such as baptisms, weddings, funerals, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest and bringing communion to the sick and homebound.

As ministers of charity, the deacon is out in the world – bringing the ministry and presence of the Church to those who need it.

“This three-fold ministry is often expressed and experienced as separate ministries, but in the person of the deacon, the ministries of word, liturgy and charity actually become one ministry,” explained Josh Perry, director of worship for the Diocese of Burlington. “The deacon at liturgy, then, presents a model of ministry for all of us. Our work of evangelization consists in our proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our worship of God and our prayers for the needs of others, and our work of charity and justice in the world. The Christian life isn’t simply one or two of these, but it is all of them.”

During the ordination Mass, Bishop Coyne spoke about the “permanent” commitment the deacons were making, pointing out their witness to the faith, the permanence of their faith and the permanence of their marriage commitment. They bring to their ministry their Christian life, their life of marriage and their work life, he added.

The bishop called upon the new permanent deacons to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in a world that “needs to hear it” and to bring the message of hope, joy, encouragement and welcome to others. “Thank you for your willingness to serve,” he said.

Through the laying on of hands by the bishop and the Prayer of Ordination, the gift of the Holy Spirit for the office of deacon was conferred on the new permanent deacons. They were then vested in the stole and the dalmatic.

The bishop handed to each one the Book of the Gospels, signifying the deacon’s responsibility to proclaim the Gospel in the liturgy and to preach the faith of the Church in word and deed. “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach,” he told each.

The bishop and other deacons present then offered the newly ordained a sign of peace.

Married with two children and one grandson, Deacon Auclair is a buyer with the Hayward Tyler Company in Colchester. He heard the call to the permanent diaconate after his Cursillo experience in 1994. “Many fellow Catholics suggest I discern a vocation in the Church. So many people remarked after listening to my witness talks that I have a gift to pass along the faith,” he said.

Through the years he has been a teacher, speaker and witness, a servant of the Church and people, a leader and a leader builder. Many of these have been through experiences including parish council chair, finance council chair, catechism teacher, bible study leader, Cursillo state lay director, grand knight in the local Knights of Columbus council and faith life facilitator.

“I think the permanent diaconate is a perfect opportunity for faithful men to serve God and His people. The formation program here in Vermont is excellent, you will get a very deep and broad understanding of the faith life we are all called to,” he said.

Deacon Flower, married with nine children and six grandchildren, works for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as a personnel security specialist. He began discerning his vocation in 2007, responding to what he called “a subtle urge that I should be doing something for the Church,” but it took until 2008 to realize that he might be receiving a call to be a permanent deacon.

His advice for those considering a vocation as a permanent deacon: “Follow Jesus’ advice — ‘Be not afraid.’ The thought of becoming an ordained deacon can be a daunting one (it certainly was for me) but if you are being called to this vocation you will receive the help that you need. Discerning this vocation is something that is done throughout the formation process, so it is OK not to be 100 percent sure at the beginning. You are discerning, the Church is discerning and, if you are married, your wife is discerning. God willing they will all arrive at the same answer.”

Deacon Kendall is married, the father of four and grandfather of one. He owns an independent insurance agency with his brother, Bob: Lawrence & Wheeler Insurance Agency, with offices in Springfield and Chester. “I have thought about being a deacon for many years, but my wife and I wanted to wait until our children were grown,” he said. “My advice for those considering the diaconate would be to pray about it and make sure that if you are married your wife is totally on board.”

He will assist his pastor in many of the sacraments and liturgical duties of the Church, and he hopes to renew or begin some programs for high school and young adults and to begin a bereavement group for men.

“I look forward to being another clergy who is there to listen, support and love those around me,” Deacon Kendall said.

Deacon McCormick, a lawyer, is married and has seven children and seven grandchildren.

He was drawn to the diaconate when a colleague told him that her brother, a priest with a chronic pain condition, didn’t take pain medication so he’d be available to answer emergency calls.  As a deacon, Deacon McCormick hopes to be better able to assist “the wonderful priests who serve us.”

He hopes other men will answer the call to the permanent diaconate. “We need you,” he said.

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