Read: Seven new deacons for the Diocese of Lansing

Here are some great images, see above and below, of the ordination to the diaconate of seven young men from across the Diocese of Lansing at Saint Thomas Aquinas in East Lansing on Saturday, May 11. Deo gratias.

“We too, my sons and brothers, are on a journey of glory to glory. We have been created for and called to this ministry and are to live it never in a veiled way, but openly for the glory of God,” said Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing in his homily.

“And since you all will exercise your ministry committed to celibacy, know that celibacy is the gift God provides you and the Church as you live as Jesus lived, totally for the sake of the Kingdom of God.”

The seven men ordained were: Deacon Jonathon Bokuniewicz of Saint Augustine parish in Howell; Deacon Brett Ivey of Saint Mary parish in Williamston; Deacon Jack Jobst; Deacon Daniel LaCroix, Deacon Christian Salata, all of Christ the King parish in Ann Arbor; Deacon Randy Koenigsknecht and Deacon Joshua Luttig, both of Most Holy Trinity parish in Fowler;

All seven deacons have been educated at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. God willing, each will now progress to ordination to the sacred priesthood next year.

Bishop Boyea urged each of the new deacons to embrace a life of sacrificial love in order to give glory to God and draw souls to Christ and his Holy Church.

“This, then, brothers and sons, is what must fill your words and your deeds, you who will be touched by the Lord himself: God’s very word, filled with the sap of sacrificial love,” said Bishop Boyea.

“Wrap your minds around this, embrace it, and think with the very heart of Jesus Christ himself, a heart filled with the glory of God. God bless you all.”

As ordained clergy, along with priests and bishops, a deacon's ministry has three dimensions: liturgy, word and service. At the sacred liturgy, he assists the bishop or priest. During the Holy Mass, the deacon proclaims the Gospel, may be invited to preach the homily, and assists at the altar. He is also expected to embrace corporal works of mercy as a means of showing himself to be a servant to all.

Following the ordination, it fell to Deacon Jack Jobst to offer a prayerful vote of thanks on behalf of his newly ordained brothers.

“We celebrate today the culmination of a great amount of work and effort to prepare our hearts and minds for ministry in the church. But, as St. Paul teaches, we can sow the seeds and cultivate the soil, but it is God who gives the growth,” said Deacon Jobst.

“The hours and hours of prayer and study which have gone into this moment are as nothing without the grace of the Holy Spirit. So, let us remember on this most joyful day, that all is for God’s glory and all is under His providence.”

In the wake of this weekend’s ordinations, each of the newly ordained deacons will now assume the following clergy assignments from Bishop Boyea:

Deacon Jonathon Bokuniewcz to diaconal ministry at Saint John the Baptist, Ypsilanti; Deacon Brett Ivey to diaconal ministry at Saint Joseph, Howell; Deacon Jack Jobst to diaconal ministry at Saint Martha, Okemos; Deacon Randy Koenigsknecht to diaconal ministry at Saint Mary, Pinckney; Deacon Daniel LaCroix to diaconal ministry at Saint Mary Magdalen, Brighton; Deacon Joshua Luttig to diaconal ministry at Saint Patrick, Brighton; Deacon and Christian Salata to diaconal ministry at Saint Andrew, Saline.

Both Bishop Boyea's homily and Deacon Jobst's vote of thanks are now reproduced below:

• Bishop Boyea’s Diaconate Mass May 11, 2024, Saint Thomas, East Lansing.

Many thanks to the St. Thomas-St. John Parish and the Diocesan staffs for their work in preparing for today’s celebration. Thanks to the choir, servers, lectors, and all others contributing to our celebration today. Thanks to Fr. Michael Cassar and all those involved in their formation, including the professors who taught them, both at St. John Vianney Seminary in Minneapolis and at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit [Frs. Tim Laboe, Charlie Fox, and Steve Pullis]. Finally, many thanks to family members who have shared the faith, prayed, and supported these, our brothers.

My dear sisters and brothers, these your brothers and sons and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of the Diaconate. Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they will assist the bishop and priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity always showing themselves to be servants of all. I know you are proud of them; please continue to give them your love and pray for them.

And now, my dear sons and brothers, allow me to reflect on the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians which you have chosen for our liturgy today. The Church in Corinth was a mess. It was divided. Paul wrote at least two letters to what arguably was his favorite community in an attempt to resolve the matters. In fact, 40 years later, St. Clement of Rome wrote another letter to Corinth again due to divisions among the members of the Body of Christ. It seems not even St. Paul was able to resolve the conflicts.

Just before our reading, Paul reminds those folks that God has shared his own glory in Jesus Christ with his ministers, including you, dear brothers, all in order to facilitate the action of the Life-giving Spirit. As Paul then states in our reading today, we have this ministry only by God’s mercy. And that ministry calls us to manifest, not veil, the glory of God. Thus, we renounce deeds of shame, things that we wish veiled, and instead preach the truth openly.

Here, then we skip two verses of this letter, where Paul reminds the community that if there is some veiling of the Gospel it is because those who are to hear and see it are instead blinded to the very glory of God shining in the Face of Christ. The inability to see the truth of the Gospel is not Paul’s fault but that of the receivers who are willfully blind to that truth. It is, as if to say, this is God’s work and Paul is not going to take the blame for everything!

Then our reading picks back up reminding us that we proclaim Christ, not ourselves. In this way, God’s eternal command to “let there be light” means that the people we serve are to see in us the manifestation of the glory of God, again as it is fundamentally seen in the Face of Christ, which we are ordained to put on. My brothers and sons, even if we are clay vessels, and I presume we all admit this, that divine light is called forth from us for the sake of the glory of God.

It is striking that this is all about the glory of God. It is not about some specific tasks, such as waiting on table, as in our first reading, or even some specific words, such as love, which is uttered nine times in our Gospel today. And this is not to say that waiting on table or loving our neighbor are not important. Rather, it is to say that all that we do and say is said and done purely for the glory of God, simply to show that glory on the Face of Christ.

For deacons, this is about being Christ the Servant in all that we say and do, that same Christ who moved from the glory of being with the Father through the great emptying of himself finally to sitting at the right hand of the glory of God all by means of the cross, that is, by laying down his life. We too, my sons and brothers, are on a journey of glory to glory. We have been created for and called to this ministry and are to live it never in a veiled way, but openly for the glory of God.

This is a high bar. Yet, Paul does offer the out that we all do this as earthen vessels, as weak instruments, as unworthy messengers, as frail human beings, all so that the glory of the power of God may be manifest through us, if not always in us. Still, let us never be content to be veiled, to let our personal frailty excuse us. Rather, let us abide with Jesus and in his love and may his joy then be complete.

And since you all will exercise your ministry committed to celibacy, know that celibacy is the gift God provides you and the Church as you live as Jesus lived, totally for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

This, then, brothers and sons, is what must fill your words and your deeds, you who will be touched by the Lord himself: God’s very word, filled with the sap of sacrificial love. Wrap your minds around this, embrace it, and think with the very heart of Jesus Christ himself, a heart filled with the glory of God.

God bless you all.

• Words of Thanksgiving from Deacon Jack Jobst, Saint Thomas Aquinas, May 11, 2024:

I would like to begin by thanking Bishop Boyea for giving us the great gift of this Sacrament. I for one am extremely grateful for your leadership of our diocese and your particular care and concern for the seminarians. You witness what it means to be a Father and a Shepherd to us.

I would also like to thank in a special way the Priests and Deacons who have served as examples and role models for us. There are countless men who have helped to prepare us for this day. Those from our home parish, the faculty at the seminary, our internship pastors, and especially our vocation directors (Fr. Mike Cassar, Fr. John Whitlock, and Fr. John Linden); you have all walked with us and helped us to grow in a particular way in the last years of seminary.

A special word of gratitude is owed to our parents. It is you who gave us the first gift on this road to the priesthood, which is perhaps the most important, the gift of faith through Baptism. It is this gift which is the seed which has grown and born fruit in our lives through charity and the life of the Holy Spirit.

In truth, all of you, our family and friends, both who are here and those unable to join us today, have played an irreplaceable role in our lives. Words cannot begin to express the totality of the blessing you are to us. Thank you to each and every one of you for your support and prayers.

Let us today give thanks to God above all for his great gifts to us. As we believe that God is the source of all good, we can turn to him and give thanks for all the blessings we have received and those yet to come. We celebrate today the culmination of a great amount of work and effort to prepare our hearts and minds for ministry in the church. But, as St. Paul teaches, we can sow the seeds and cultivate the soil, but it is God who gives the growth. The hours and hours of prayer and study which have gone into this moment are as nothing without the grace of the Holy Spirit. So let us remember on this most joyful day, that all is for God’s glory and all is under His providence.

• If you missed it, you can watch the ordination for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDX50E_VZj8