Archbishop Clifford reminded the new deacons that the life of a deacon is a life of service, particularly service of the poor. He praised the candidates for their courage in undertaking a lifelong commitment to celibacy and service. He reminded the four new deacons that the election of Pope Francis has signalled a time of hope and joy for the universal Church.
Those ordained include Liam Boyle (25) of the Diocese of Raphoe who entered the seminary following completion of his secondary education. The three others ordained are graduates of Trinity College, Dublin. Brian Fitzpatrick (35) of the Diocese of Dromore is a medical doctor. Dominic McGrattan (29) of the Diocese of Down and Connor is a graduate in law while Pat O’Donoghue (35) of the Diocese of Cloyne is a pharmacy graduate.
All four deacons are currently studying theology at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome following previous seminary studies for three of them at Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth and for the other at Saint Malachy’s College, Belfast. Ordination to the diaconate is most often received one year prior to ordination to the priesthood.
The ordination ceremony was attended by over one hundred family members and friends from Ireland. It was held at the Irish College in Rome which dates from 1628 and has been educating generations of priests for service in Ireland’s twenty six dioceses since then.
In *2011, the 26 dioceses of Ireland had 91 students for the priesthood assigned to them. Statistics on ordination and those entering religious life state that there were six diocesan ordinations in 2011 that is compared with nine in 2006 and 29 in 2001. In 1984 when the first such statistics were available there were 76 ordinations.
Looking at other ordinations the figures reveal that clerical religious orders ordained five and professed seven men in 2011, compared with five ordinations and two professions in 2006 and 10 and six in 2001.
A number of men were ordained for the permanent diaconate in various diocese in 2012. They will continue to serve in their diocese in the coming years and undertook special studies for the permanent diaconate.
Deacons represent Christ the servant sacramentally. A deacon is called to embody the work of Christ in charity, in the word and at the altar. There are as many ways of serving: deacons can baptise, witness marriages, bring viaticum to the dying, visit the sick and housebound, assist in sacramental preparation, promote knowledge of the social teaching of the Church, and preside at funerals. Deacons proclaim the Gospel and may serve as the homilist at Mass.
*figures compiled by The Council for Research & Development, Irish Bishops’ Conference
By Ann Marie Foley