Deacon aspirants from throughout the Diocese of Raleigh gathered April 30 for a special Mass at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Mt. Olive.
Eighteen men, representing 17 parishes, are part of the permanent diaconate formation program, which is led by Father James F. Garneau, V.F.
The men are concluding their second year of formation, with three years of study ahead of them.
Rick Autry of Sacred Heart Church in Southport is one of the candidates, who meet for one weekend a month, nine months out of the year.
“It’s very emotional,” he said after Mass. “It’s been a long time coming … and it’s kind of surreal if you stop and think about it. I felt the calling of the Lord in my life to further my service to him, and the church and my community as well.”
In his homily, Monsignor Michael Shugrue, diocesan administrator, spoke about the Gospel of Luke and the story of Jesus appearing to two disciples as they walked to Emmaus. He added that the faithful today come to see Jesus gradually as they “walk with others” and seek understanding.
“My friends, in a few minutes we will celebrate the Rite of Candidacy for those aspiring to be deacons. These gentlemen here are aspiring to serve Jesus and his Church,” Monsignor Shugrue said. “They will be offering themselves to God. As deacon candidates, their lives of service will remind all of us that we are called, by our baptism, to be servants of the Lord in our world. In a few moments we will support them with our love and prayers. Amen.”