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ND grads take final vows

Tori Roeck | Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Saturday, three Notre Dame graduates professed final vows of poverty, chastity and obedience during their ordination as deacons in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Alumni Brian Ching, Mark DeMott and Jarrod Waugh have nearly completed the process of becoming Holy Cross priests and will be ordained priests in April 2013.

After this weekend’s ordination, DeMott said the group gains new responsibilities from their profession.

“Becoming a deacon is the final step before becoming a priest,” DeMott said. “This year, I will become comfortable assisting the priest at Mass and preaching homilies. I will also baptize new Christians and preside at weddings and funerals.”

The ceremony, which is available for viewing on YouTube, is similar to the typical Mass format, but those being ordained play a special role after the homily, Ching said.

“Those who are about to profess their final vows all line up at the center aisle of the Basilica and lay prostrate, lay full belly down on the floor,” Ching said. “It’s a beautiful image of our abandonment to God because laying face down on the floor is a sign of utter abandonment, of utter submission to God’s will.”

The congregation then sings the Litany of the Saints, invoking them to pray for those making their profession, Ching said.

“After that follows the actual profession,” he said. “The provisional superior, our boss, holds one end of the Book of the Gospels and we grasp the other end of the Book of the Gospels and publicly profess, making a public promise just like marriage is, to remain true and faithful to our Lord and to the constitution of the Congregation of the Holy Cross through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.”

DeMott said he has been preparing to take his final vows for many years, gaining experience through assignments at Saint Stanislaus Parish and Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, as well as the Holy Cross Lakeview Secondary School in Jinja, Uganda.

“My relationships with Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters in these places helped me to learn what it means to be a Holy Cross religious – to live together according to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and to serve generously, forming both the mind and the heart,” he said. “Daily prayer and meeting regularly with a spiritual director was important in this process as well.”

In addition to the formal training he has received over the years, Ching said he spent more time in prayer and contemplation during the last few months before his profession of final vows to get ready for the event.

“There’s a short-term preparation as the months grew closer and closer to be a bit more deliberate and spend some more time in prayer giving thanks to God for His gift of my vocation, for His gift of Holy Cross, for my brothers in Holy Cross,” Ching said.

DeMott said professing his final vows in the Basilica was especially meaningful because his Notre Dame education was “transformative” in his decision to discern the priesthood.

“Before college, I had never attended Catholic school and had never studied theology,” he said. “I developed a new appreciation for the Word of God, I learned about the Mass, and I began to understand the connection between theology and service to those in need. Outside the classroom, I had the opportunity to explore ministry and service in the Church.”

DeMott also served as rector of Keough Hall and is currently a residence hall director at the University of Portland.

Ching, who joined Old College his sophomore year at Notre Dame, said the “Notre Dame experience” was conducive to discerning the priesthood.

“Certainly the experience of what we describe as the Notre Dame family, living in a community of caring and committed Christians all moving together to what God is calling them to do, being in that environment where our faith is not something we try to hide but something we try to celebrate … had a deep impact,” Ching said. “It allowed me to feel comfortable to express to my friends, especially my college friends, that this is something that God is calling me to.”

Ching said he is both excited and nervous about being Christ’s representative on Earth.

“I don’t become a priest for my own glory, my own popularity,” he said. “I become a priest because I want to serve Jesus Christ, and that means constantly being in a relationship with Him and having His life exude through me to the people of God. … That’s a daunting challenge.”