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On February 22, 2021, 14 Lectors and 11 Acolytes were recognized in the Institution of Ministries ceremony at Theological College, presided by Bishop Mario Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Washington.
The lay ministries (no longer called minor orders) of lector and acolyte were established by Pope Paul VI in 1973 with the apostolic letter “Ministeria Quaedam.” They are to be given to all candidates for orders to the diaconate and priesthood.
In order to confer these ministries, the following conditions should be met, according to Canon Law:
1) the presentation of a petition that has been freely made out and signed by the aspirant to the bishop;
2) a suitable age (21) and special qualities to be determined by the conference of bishops: the candidate must possess the skills necessary for an effective proclamation of the Word or service at the altar, be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church, be free of any canonical penalty, and live a life which befits the ministry to be undertaken;
3) a firm will to give faithful service to God and the Christian people.
The ministries are conferred by the Ordinary (the bishop) through the liturgical rite De institutione lectoris and De institutione acolythi as revised by the Apostolic See.
An interval, determined by the Holy See or the conferences of bishops, shall be observed between the conferring of the ministries of reader and acolyte, in order for him to be better disposed for the future service of the Word and of the altar.
Canon 1035 explains that the lector’s duties may include carrying the Book of the Gospels, reading the readings preceding the Gospel, proclaiming the responsorial psalm, announcing the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful, and more. TC seminarians who received the ministry of lector on Feb. 22nd were: Andrew Clark (Richmond), Justin Damask (Charleston), Jacob Daniell (Ft. Worth), Joseph Heisey (Washington, DC), Auguste Horner (Rockville Centre), Paul Kucharski (New York), Isaac McCracken (Ft. Worth), Kenneth Nauert Jr. (Louisville), Dylan Prentice (Washington, DC), Daniel Roberts (Pittsburgh), Nathaniel Roberts (Washington, DC), Michael Villavicencio (Santa Fe), Lam Vo (Portland), and Stephen Wong (Washington, DC).
The duties of the acolyte during the Mass are varied – such as carrying the cross in procession to the altar and assisting the priest during the Mass by accepting the offertory, incensing the priest and the congregation, distributing Communion, purifying the vessels afterwards, etc. The TC seminarians who received the ministry of acolyte were: David Birkdale (New York), Vincent Castaldi (New York), Benjamin Grothouse (Ft. Worth), Daniel Kushner (Pittsburgh), William Mobley (Dallas), Justin Motes (St. Augustine), Patrick O’Brien (Rockville), Jonathan Pham (Rockville Centre), Jacob Romero (Santa Fe), André Sicard (Salt Lake City), and Vincent Vu (Washington, DC).
Perhaps the best presentation of these ministries comes from the following discourses (found in the rites) that the bishop delivers before these conferrals.
Before conferring the ministry of lector:
“Dear sons in Christ: Through his Son, who became man for us, God the Father has revealed the mystery of salvation and brought it to fulfillment. Jesus Christ made all things known to us and then entrusted his Church with the mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world.
“As readers and bearers of God’s word, you will assist in this mission, and so take on a special office within the Christian community; you will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God. You will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it. Thus, with your help men and women will come to know God our Father and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent, and so be able to reach eternal life.
In proclaiming God’s word to others, accept it yourselves in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Meditate on it constantly, so that each day you will have a deeper love of the Scriptures, and in all you say and do show forth to the world our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Before conferring the ministry of acolyte:
“Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. The summit and source of the Church’s life is the eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. It is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give holy communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick.
Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ.
In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick. Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to his apostles at the Last Supper: ‘Love one another as I also have loved you.’”
Please join the TC community in prayerful congratulations to the 25 men who received these ministries on February 22nd!