The jubilant notes of "Lift High the Cross" rose to the top
of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington June 4,
marking the beginning of this year's diaconate ordination
Mass. Diaconate candidates Stephen Vaccaro and Jordan Willard
waited in anticipation as they stood with their families in
the church pews during the opening procession. This year
Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori celebrated the
ordination Mass for Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde, who is
recovering from recent back surgery.
After the reading of the Gospel of Matthew, Archbishop Lori
proceeded with the Rite of Ordination. He asked Father Joel
D. Jaffe, vocations director, if he found the men worthy of
the diaconate. Father Jaffe's affirmation that he did was
echoed by the large group of family, friends and religious in
the cathedral, who responded with enthusiastic applause.
"Today, Stephen and Jordan, you take a decisive step toward
the priesthood," said Archbishop Lori. "God chose the sons of
Levi to present themselves to Aaron, the priest, to assist in
worship, which God had commanded the Israelites to offer Him.
The sons of Levi are your spiritual ancestors, for you are
also called to assist bishops and priests in leading the
worship of the New Covenant." He explained that the station
of deacon is deeply etched in salvation history and how in
the New Testament the apostles chose seven men of good repute
to carry out the church's ministry of charity. He encouraged
them to commit to prayer and grow in the conviction that
Christ lives in them in a way that can help them give
themselves to others in loving service.
"Let the words of Our Savior penetrate the recesses of your
hearts today and always," said Archbishop Lori.
Following the homily, both Vaccaro and Willard proclaimed
their promise to discharge the office of deacon with humility
and love while also giving their promise of obedience while
kneeling before the archbishop. As the faithful sang the
litany, the candidates prostrated themselves in front of the
altar, an ancient gesture of supplication and the dying to
They received the essential elements of the sacrament when
they each approached Archbishop Lori, who laid his hands on
their heads and prayed the prayer of the ordination.
At the closing of the Mass, Archbishop Lori expressed his joy
for being able to present the diocese with its new deacons.
He also announced that while Bishop Loverde might not have
been with them at the ordination Mass, the bishop was still
close to them and had offered Mass for the two men at 11a.m.
The families of the two new deacons beamed with happiness and
pride after Mass. Both Deacons Vaccaro and Willard will
assist the diocese this summer and will continue their
studies in the fall at the Pontifical College Josephinum in
Columbus, Ohio, with the hope of one day being ordained to
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