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Bishop ordains three Holy Cross deacons

John-Paul Witt | Monday, September 1, 2008

Three seminarians were ordained as deacons Sunday in the chapel of Moreau Seminary.

Aaron Michka, Vincent Kuna and Dr. Charles McCoy were ordained by Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend.

As the new deacons were ordained, Bishop D’Arcy presented them with a book of the Gospels, instructing each to “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

Bishop D’Arcy instructed the new deacons that the key to being a good minister is “overcoming self-centeredness,” because the work of a minister is “not about me, it’s about the word we preach,” he said.

The responsibilities of a deacon include witnessing marriages, performing funeral rites, performing baptisms, and reading the Gospel in Mass, according to Bishop D’Arcy. But unlike priests, deacons cannot celebrate a Mass, hear confessions, or give last rites.

Prior to their ordination Sunday, the three professed vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the Congregation of Holy Cross in Sacred Heart Basilica Saturday.

This ceremony made the men full members of the congregation, since they pledged themselves to live as unmarried men in community with other members of the congregation, which is found in the United States as well as “in service to others in Latin America, Africa, Asia and across the world,” according to remarks made Sunday by Father Peter Rocca.

The three had all been Notre Dame students prior to entering the seminary.

Dr. McCoy completed a PhD in mathematics in 2000 from Notre Dame. Kuna graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Notre Dame in 1999, and Michka graduated in 2004 from the Old College undergraduate seminary at Notre Dame.

The ordination comes after seminary studies of four years for Michka and six years for Dr. McCoy and Kuna, in which the candidates studied philosophy and theology, completing a Masters in Divinity degree at Notre Dame, according to Father Pete McCormick, the assistant director of vocations for the Indiana province of the Congregation of Holy Cross and rector of Keough Hall.

In addition to classroom work, the three men completed “pastoral” or service assignments, ranging from working in a parish to working with troubled kids in a juvenile justice center.

“These men completed several years of study of philosophy and theology as well as ministry assignments that helped each one determine where best to use their individual gifts in preparation for being ordained,” Fr. McCormick said.

The men will serve as “transitory,” or temporary, deacons, charged with “proclaiming the Gospel and performing works of charity with the help of God,” Bishop D’Arcy said.

“They will be recognized as men who came not to be served, but to serve,” Bishop D’Arcy said, “They have consecrated themselves to God forever.”

Generally, deacons ordained at Notre Dame can serve as assistant rectors in dorms, work in Holy Cross parishes around the world or work in Campus Ministry at a Holy Cross university, depending on the individual skills of the new deacon.

For the next year, Kuna and Dr. McCoy will serve in parishes in the United States while Michka will be assigned to Monterrey, Mexico. All three are to be ordained as priests in April 2009.