This year, the parishes of the South Clermont Catholic Region will have the privilege of being part of the formation of one of our seminarians as he makes final preparations to be ordained to the holy priesthood to serve the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
After doing a great deal of preparation work in the academic setting of Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary in Mt. Washington where they train, such as studying the Scriptures and practicing the art of preaching and rhetoric, the faculty responsible for forming them to be good priests recognize that the best way for the men to learn to preach in the parishes is to go out into the parishes and do just that. So they assign them to parishes throughout the 19 counties of our archdiocese.
We have agreed to welcome seminarian Chris Komoroski to visit the parishes in our region and serve as the deacon for Mass. He’ll do this about five times throughout the fall, alternating the parishes where he preaches.
He is currently a deacon in his last year of priestly formation. The Church has a nearly continuous custom of ordaining men to serve as deacons before they become priests, just as a man is ordained a priest before he becomes a bishop. There are three levels of the sacrament of holy orders which conform a man’s soul to Christ in a particular way: deacon (Christ the servant), priest (Christ the mediator and offerer of sacrifice), and bishop (Christ the Head).
Throughout much of the Church’s history, men have been ordained deacons only as a step on the way to the priesthood. The practice of ordaining men to “the permanent diaconate” in the Roman rite (intending to spend the rest of their lives as deacons but not priests) has recently been revived.
For both seminarian deacons and permanent deacons, an important part of their ministry is to assist the priest at the liturgy and especially to proclaim the Gospel. Deacons are also permitted to preach at Mass, although they do not ordinarily do so when a priest is present, just as a priest does not ordinarily do so when a bishop is present.
However, in order to give the seminarians practice preaching at Mass, which they will likely need to do every week of their lives, Deacon Chris will be preaching for us when he visits with us, in addition to serving at the altar.
Since the seminarians are fairly inexperienced at preaching, the seminary asks the host parishes to select some volunteers who will give them feedback each time they preach, to help make sure that his preaching connects with the people. We thank our volunteers on the evaluation team for their service.
The purpose of preaching is for the bishop, priest or deacon to attempt to help connect the Scriptures with the faith lives of those gathered at Mass. I can tell you as a priest of 15 years that this is a very important but challenging task, as people come from very diverse backgrounds and are looking for very different things from the homily. Please pray for Deacon Chris, that this experience will help to make him a good preacher and good priest!