Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore, conferred Mr Padraig Kelly to the ministry of acolyte for the Diocese of Kilmore on Saturday 10 June last. The conferral, which was held in Saint Clare’s Church, Manorhamilton, marks the Leitrim native’s final steps on his journey towards the permanent diaconate.
In his homily, Bishop O’Reilly said, “The ministry of acolyte that Padraig will receive shortly is the final stage on the journey to the order of deacon. As the readings of our Mass today suggest, it is concerned very much with the ministry of the Eucharist. As an acolyte Padraig will be a special minister of the Eucharist, distributing Communion at Mass and bringing Communion to the sick. Of course, lay people are already doing that in the Church nowadays. That does not take anything away from the importance of the ministry entrusted to Padraig today. Rather, it emphasises the dignity and importance of the role played by the extraordinary ministers of the sacrament.”
He continued, “The short exhortation to the candidate that follows this homily summarises the task Padraig is about to undertake. I want to reflect one of the points that it highlights in relation to the place of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.
“The exhortation tells us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life. That is a quotation from the Second Vatican Council. In every Mass we repeat the words Jesus said at the Last Supper: Take this and eat of it, this is my body which is given for you; take this and drink of it, this is the cup of my blood, poured out for you … Do this in memory of me.”
Bishop O’Reilly said, “The Eucharist is not only the source of the Church’s life. It is also the summit of its life. It is not only the origin of the Church’s life, but also its goal and destination. The ultimate goal is beyond this life. It’s a goal of unity, bringing us all together in one body under Christ as head. This is God’s grand plan as outlined in St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “that God would bring everything together under Christ as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.” That is heaven. The Eucharist is the means for achieving this unity and this goal for all of us. We call it Communion – literally union together – because it brings about Communion. It begins right here as we take part in the Mass, but will only be completed in eternity.”
He concluded his homily saying, “As Christians we are the body of Christ. The exhortation will remind you, Padraig, that, ‘In performing your ministry [you should] bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them’. It asks you to show a sincere love for Christ’s Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick. I know that you have been doing that very generously for decades both in your professional life and in your voluntary work in the parish and community here and in the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes. I have every confidence you will continue to do it in the future as an Acolyte and, please God, very soon as a deacon of the diocese of Kilmore.”
Bishop Leo O’Reilly inaugurated the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Kilmore in November 2009. The ministry of acolyte is the final step for a candidate towards the permanent diaconate before ordination as deacon.
The areas of ministry entrusted to permanent deacons fall under three general headings, Altar, Word and Charity. Deacons can assist the priest at the celebration of the Eucharist; they can celebrate baptism and marriage and preside at funerals. They also facilitate visiting the sick, prisoners and the bereaved and promoting awareness of the social teaching of the church.
In partnership with priests and parish pastoral workers, their role includes supporting the structures which allow for the wider participation of the lay faithful in a range of ministries in the parish and in the wider community.
The permanent diaconate is a voluntary part-time ministry, for married or single men, however if deacons have taken early retirement or reduced their work commitments they may be able to offer a greater time commitment.
For more information, visit www.kilmorediocese.ie.
Image, from left to right: Deacon Andy Brady; Mgr Michael Cooke, Director of the Diaconate in the Diocese of Kilmore; Bishop Leo O’Reilly; Mrs Annette Kelly; Mr Padraig Kelly; and Fr Michael Duignan, Director of the Diaconate Programme in St Angela’s College, Sligo.