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Archbishop Lori ordains five men as transitional deacons

Women dressed in traditional African garb celebrate the May 15 ordination of five men, including three from Cameroon, to the transitional diaconate. The liturgy was held at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland. (Kevin J. Parks/CR Staff)

Moments after the last sounds of regal trumpets reverberated off the stone walls of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen at the conclusion of a May 15 ordination Mass for five new deacons, an impromptu procession made its way up the cathedral’s long aisles.

Dozens of men and women – many wearing traditional African garb – jubilantly clapped, sang traditional African songs and waved decorated fans as they sought out the new deacons to congratulate them and wish them well.

It was a fitting conclusion to a joy-filled morning as three of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s newly ordained deacons – Maurice Afor, Peter Kiamo-oh and Kenneth Lukong – hail from Cameroon. Since 2016, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has partnered with the Catholic Church in the West African nation to welcome seminarians into the archdiocese.

The other new deacons are James M. Bors from New Carrollton and David C.F. Ray from Arlington, Va.

Ordained as “transitional deacons,” the clergymen will continue on the path to the priesthood, with their priestly ordination expected next year.

Click play below to watch a photo slideshow of highlights from the ordination. Story continues beneath.

In his homily, Archbishop William E. Lori challenged the men to become “a living image of Christ the deacon, Christ, the son of God and the servant of all.”

“You must therefore have the heart, the hands, the attitude and the look of Christ the deacon,” he said. “Encountering you, others are to encounter the Christ who came not ro be served but to serve. Encountering you, others are to encounter the church, the church that is called out of the darkness of sin and death into the lightsome realm of God’s kingdom where those who serve are greater than those who are served.”

The archbishop said Christ will be met in the new deacons as they preach the Gospel, assist at the altar, distribute holy Communion at Mass and to the sick, and preside at funerals, weddings and prayer services.

Those meetings will take place when the deacons visit the homebound and serve the poor, he said, and also through handshakes, phone calls, emails and visits. The archbishop warned the deacons to never take those encounters for granted.

“It can take only one encounter for trust in the Lord and in his church to be built up or to be torn down,” he said. “It can take only one encounter for someone alienated from the Lord and the church to be welcomed back or to be pushed away.”

During the liturgy the archbishop laid hands on each new deacon, calling down the Holy Spirit upon him. The deacons were vested with the stole and dalmatic, the liturgical garments that indicate their office. They also received the Book of the Gospels.

Click play below to watch a recorded livestream of the ordination. Story continues below.

Father Steven Roth, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, called the ordination a “very special day,” and encouraged those attending and watching on livestream to see it as a beginning and not an end.

“As we celebrate these five new deacons, let this be an opportunity for us to invite many more men (to consider religious vocations),” Father Roth said. “Invite your sons and grandsons, nephews, coworkers, neighbors and friends. Encourage them as you experience the joy of this day to consider that the Lord may be inviting them to one day experience this same wonderful ordination.”

Before the liturgy began, Father Roth led the congregation in a prayer for religious vocations.

Joining Archbishop Lori at the celebration were former Baltimore archbishop, Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, and Auxiliary Bishop Denis J. Madden.

At the conclusion of the celebration, the archbishop announced the assignments of the new deacons. Deacon Bors will serve at St. Peter in Libertytown; Deacon Afor at Our Lady of Victory in Arbutus; Deacon Lukong at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Crofton; Deacon Ray at St. William of York in Baltimore and St. Agnes in Catonsville; and Deacon Kiamo-oh at St. Joseph Monastery in Irvington.

Kevin J. Parks contributed to this report.  Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org

To read biographical capsules of the new deacons, click here

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