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Two St. Louisans to be ordained transitional deacons May 4 at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis

Archbishop Carlson to confer sacrament of Holy Orders May 4

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson will ordain two men as transitional deacons at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The term “deacon” comes from the Greek word diakonia, which means “service.” A deacon is someone who serves Christ and His Church. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, he participates in the ministry of Christ, who came “to serve and not to be served.” The diaconate is considered the first rank of “orders,” of ordained ministers in the Church: deacons, priests and bishops.

A transitional deacon is a man who, God willing, will eventually be ordained to the priesthood. As a priest, he will not cease to be a deacon through his service to others. He is distinguished from a man who is ordained as a permanent deacon — those who are not planning to be ordained priests. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s authorized the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent order of ministry. There is no difference in the sacramental character of the transitional and permanent diaconate.

Christopher Smith

Smith
Age: 35

First Mass as a Transitional Deacon: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 5, at St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville

Family: Parents, Douglas and Melodie; sister, Kimberly

Parish: St. Joseph Parish in Cottleville

Education: Elementary Schools in Palmdale, Calif. (Tumbleweed and Desert Rose Elementary Schools); Hollenbeck Middle School (7); Saeger Middle School (8); Francis Howell Central High School; St. Louis College of Pharmacy (doctorate in pharmacy); Kenrick School of Theology (philosophy); Kenrick School of Theology (Class of 2020)

The call: As a convert to the Catholic Church 2007, I did not feel called to the priesthood from a young age. Through a series of invitations, I came to Mass, which eventually led to my conversion. I also attended a retreat, which led to me becoming more involved in my faith, and also to leadership within groups in which I was involved. I have been drawn closer to Jesus in a step-wise manner that called me not just to greater involvement in the Church, but to serve Jesus Himself, and through doing so, to serve the Church as a whole in a deeper way.

After a year or two of kicking the idea of a vocation around in my head and in my prayers, and speaking with several priests and attending several more retreats, the call became clearer toward the diocesan priesthood. This clarity reached its peak when I was provided the chance to travel to Italy, and unexpectedly had the opportunity to shake the hand of Pope Benedict XVI. I felt God was telling me to act. I quit my job as a pharmacist as soon as I could, sold my condominium, and entered the seminary in 2014. Since entering, I have felt immensely blessed and affirmed in my discernment. The support of the people of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been incredible along the way.

Dane Westhoff

Westhoff
Age: 36

First Mass as a Transitional Deacon: 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Immaculate Conception Parish in Old Monroe

Family: Parents, Butch and Betty; six brothers, Ken, Larry, Ron, Dave, Jeff and Tim; and one sister, Vicki

Parish: Immaculate Conception in Old Monroe

Education: Immaculate Conception School in Old Monroe; St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon; Kenrick School of Theology (Philosophy); Kenrick School of Theology (Class of 2020)

The call: The priesthood never crossed my mind until I was 27. I was always a faithful Catholic, but I didn’t take my faith seriously until my mid-20s. It started with a simple Bible study (The Great Adventure Timeline Series), which led me to other Catholic reading and listening to Catholic Answers. This increased my faith in the Catholic Church and led me to a greater understanding of the Mass.

I regularly attended a young adult Catholic group, Crossroads St. Charles, where a priest finally asked me: “Why aren’t you in the seminary?” It was only then I realized that I never gave the priesthood a fair chance in my life, and if I was going to call myself a good Catholic, I should consider giving my life to Christ and those who follow Him, much like the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19. ​

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