Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Diaconate Ordination

I wanted to post a few photos from this weekend's diaconate ordination. On Sunday, I was given the great privilege of preaching at the 11:15 Mass at Saint Cecilia. Drawing on the banquet imagery found in the Gospel, I concluded with the following:

My friends, again I welcome you to the Eucharistic banquet. My name is Ryan and I will be your servant, your deacon. To many eyes, what we have on the menu is unimpressive: simple bread and wine. But to those who bring to the altar a hunger for Living Bread and a thirst for Salvation, it is all the food needed. If you enjoy your meal today, we don’t need a Yelp review. Be what you have received, the Body of Christ, and go out into a hungry world to invite anyone with hunger to join us because, at this table, there’s always room for one more and always more than enough to eat.
My understanding of what it means to be a minister in the Church comes directly from the Jesus I have come to know in prayer and whose credibility has been affirmed in and through the lives of many others. This is the Lord who comes to serve, not to be served. I'm not worthy to this task and I've done nothing to merit the privilege of this service. Nevertheless, I believe it is through God's grace and mercy that I have been invited and have the strength to accept this task. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

Practice what you teach

what you read

what you believe

what you teach

Very often, when friends ask me when I'm going to be ordained, a comment about the great length of Jesuit formation is made. "Almost eleven years? Why does it take so long?" 

Although the formal "training" process to prepare a man for ordination to the priesthood takes a Jesuit nearly ten years, the truth is that it is a process with roots in my childhood. From an early age, I knew very little other than I wanted to be happy in my life. I have been graced with many great opportunities and am quite assured that, were I not a Jesuit, financial concerns would be the least of my worries. I could have been a doctor or a lawyer, although as much as these would appeal to my ambitious side, I could well imagine that I might have become a special education teacher. Yet my draw toward happiness found models in the Jesuits I knew at Saint Ignatius High School, Canisius College, and John Carroll University. These were the kind of men I wanted to be like, the sort of men who seemed to be happy. 

When I entered the Society of Jesus in 2004, ordination seemed a very long way away. Novitiate, First Studies, Regency, then Theology....so many stages, so many years. Instead of focusing solely on the end result, as some "light at the end of the tunnel," I have tried to stay focused on each stage of formation, trying each day to come to know Jesus better and to serve him in God's people. 

I mention this because, this Saturday, I'll be ordained to the transitional diaconate. Priestly ordination will take place next June 13th in Chicago. Truth be told, between starting my PhD and recently losing my grandmother, this ordination has been too much to think about, so I've put it into the Lord's hands each day. "Jesus, I know this is coming up, but I've got a lot going on these days. You do your work on your end, and I'll keep up on my end, and let's hope it'll all be okay." 

I'd ask your prayers for all of the ordinands this weekend and next. My prayer is that we are being formed to be the priests the Church deserves and needs. 

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Safe Home

Last Wednesday, my Grandma Hagan's 86-year sojourn on earth came to an end. Surrounded by her children and loved ones, she died in her own home. Indeed, in keeping with her wishes, she left her house "feet first" and as she was wheeled down the driveway, her family applauded her for a Job Well Done.

Needless to say, the days following were chaotic. As my family made plans, I scrambled to get a plane ticket. Compounding the frenzy was my own "good planning." Earlier this semester, I signed up to give two class presentations, one on a Thursday and the second on the following Tuesday. Well, funeral arrangements and a great deal of travel certainly put an enormous amount of pressure on me to write quickly and, hopefully, clearly!

Thankfully, all that needed to be done was accomplished. The funeral was a beautiful tribute to a woman who taught all who met her how to love. Grandma had something like 28 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and a smattering of great-great-grandchildren. Yet as one watched the line at the funeral home, or at the church, or at the graveside one thing could not be avoided: a lot of people had one Grandma Hagan.

Please pray for my family as they continue to experience an enormous void in their lives. It would be an understatement to say that a void has not be left in all of our lives and hearts. Big things, like Christmas, will bear her absence most notably. But so will the small family events - school recitals, sporting events, etc. - where Grandma would be sure to be in attendance, always an avid supporter of whatever her family was doing.

Some people die and leave vast estates behind. There was no vast estate but, perhaps, something far greater: a landscape of people, countless over the years, touched by a very special woman who knew how to extend a gracious welcome and offer authentic friendship to all she met. Our lives are far richer for having known, and been loved, by Mary Kay than any six-figure inheritance or trust could ensure.

We'll miss you, Grandma. Our shared faith consoles us that this week's Goodbye is not eternal but is, rather, a "we'll see you again." See you soon, Grandma. Please pray for those you've left behind for now, that our lives may give witness to the women and men you loved us into being.

First Vows, 2006
Praying with those gathered at the graveside.

Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame