This year, the parishes of the South Clermont Catholic Region will again 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.

Last year we welcomed Fr. (then Deacon) Chris Komoroski, who is now stationed at the Newman Center parish at the University of Cincinnati. This year, we welcome Deacon Eddie Hoffmann. Deacon Eddie is a native of Clermont County hailing from St. Philomena parish in the Batavia area. Following the conversion of his brother Henry (also now a deacon in formation for the priesthood), he converted to the Catholic Faith while he was an Army ROTC cadet at Xavier University. He has committed to serve as an Army Chaplain for a time before returning to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He will preach five times at the Masses in the region through the fall season. A team of parishioners will assist him by giving him feedback for each of his preaching events.

You might remember from last year that seminarians become a deacon as one of the last major steps along the path to the holy priesthood. A priest remains always a deacon (conformed to Christ the Servant) even after his priestly ordination, just as a bishop remains always a priest even after his is consecrated. While a deacon, a seminarian shares in all the privileges and responsibilities of that office, including proclaiming the Gospel, assisting the priest at the liturgy, and celebrating the sacraments when needed by the pastor. Preaching at Mass is reserved to priests and deacons alone but is ordinarily done by the celebrant of the Mass or the cleric with the highest degree of orders (for example, a bishop would ordinarily preach if he is present at Mass). The liturgical guidelines allow a priest occasionally to delegate the task of preaching to a deacon when appropriate. The purpose of preaching is for the cleric to help connect the Scriptures with the faith lives of those gathered at Mass, whether instructing, encouraging, or admonishing.

I can tell you as a priest of 16 years that this is an especially important but challenging task, as parishioners come from diverse backgrounds and are often looking for quite different things from the homily. Please pray for Deacon Eddie, that this experience will help to make him a good preacher and, most importantly, a good and holy priest!