CATHOLIC VALUE COLUMNIST
Hundreds gathered in the Finnegan Fieldhouse Saturday Sept. 14 for the diaconate ordination of five TOR brothers who are members of the Franciscan University of Steubenville community.
As onlookers sang the Litany of Saints, Brothers Daniel Maria Klimek, TOR; Matthew Simons, TOR; Zachary Burns, TOR; Rufino Corona, TOR; and Stephen Mary Waruszewski, TOR, lay prostrate before the altar in the Finnegan Fieldhouse, praying for the saints’ intercessions as they approached one of the most significant moments of their lives to this point.
Moments later, they rose, and Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey Monforton laid his hands on them, ordaining them deacons to serve God’s people.
The Sept. 14 liturgy was the first ordination to take place at Franciscan University since a dual ordination in 1996: The Rev. Dave Pivonka, TOR, was ordained a priest, and the Rev. Joseph Lehman, TOR, was ordained a deacon. Twenty-two years later, Pivonka, now Franciscan’s president, and Lehman, now minister provincial, looked on as their Franciscan brothers became transitional deacons.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” said Burns, who spent his apostolic year at Franciscan in 2018 working as pastoral associate to the Missionary Outreach Office.
In his homily, Monforton called on the diaconate candidates to never forget their call to serve the faithful.
“How fitting we celebrate your ordination to holy orders on this feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross,” the bishop said, “the very cross of Jesus Christ who upon it, saved the world, saved us. … A disciple’s fortitude and resolve render all personal comfort and gain secondary to the cross itself as Jesus did. This also is the Franciscan way, is it not?”
Following the ordination, the new deacons greeted well-wishers and posed for photos during a reception in the J.C. Williams Center. Klimek, a theology professor at Franciscan, found his household, Knights of the Holy Queen, and prayed a Hail Holy Queen with them before bestowing on them his very first blessing.
“When the bishop laid his hands on me, I felt such an impartation on my soul,” said Klimek, reflecting on the laying on of hands. “I had a vision of the Sacred Heart beating very strongly, and when I sat back down, I felt different.”
Bishop Monforton spoke of this new reality for the deacons during his homily.
“While your title ‘deacon’ may have added the term ‘transitional,’ the term ‘temporary’ has no place in your ministry,” he said. “This day, you will be configured to Jesus Christ in a profound and unrepeatable manner.”
Monforton articulated the importance of the day for the new deacons with six simple words: “Today, Jesus makes you his own.”