Bishop Edward Malesic instituted eight Saint Mary Seminary students into the ministry of acolyte during a Mass Feb. 4 at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe. (See photo gallery above.)
Seven of the seminarians were instituted for service to the Diocese of Cleveland and one, Chunju (Andrew) Park, was instituted for the Archdiocese of Daegu, South Korea.
The new acolytes from the Cleveland Diocese and their home parishes are Charles Christopher Bulger, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish, Avon; Mitchell Timothy Carson, St. Peter Parish, North Ridgeville; Cameron Michael Ferrell, SS. Peter and Paul Parish, Doylestown; Nathan Michael Frankart, St. Joseph Parish, Amherst; Truong (Joseph) Viet Ho, St. Boniface Parish, Cleveland; Sean Patrick Neville, St. Mary of the Falls Parish, Olmsted Falls; and Brian Matthew Peters, St. Raphael Parish, Bay Village.
Instituted acolytes have the responsibility of assisting priests and deacons in carrying out their liturgical ministry. As special ministers of the Eucharist, they also may give holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick and expose the Blessed Sacrament for adoration. Because the acolyte’s ministry places him in the service of the altar, he has a special relationship to the Eucharist.
During his homily, Bishop Malesic recalled his own experience serving at the altar, which began in his seminary days. He admitted he was nervous, but said he learned over time. He told the new acolytes to pay attention to the Spirit that is moving within them more than the mechanics of what is going on, explaining that they can pray and serve. “Pray the liturgy, which is the work of the Church,” he said.
The bishop reminded the newly instituted that he was not ordaining them that night, he was instituting them in a more stable lay ministry. The Church is asking them to tap more deeply in the common priesthood they received in the waters of baptism.
“You will exercise this new ministry, which is instituted by the Church, in order to be part of bringing Christ to the world,” he said, adding that their new ministry is also a way to be part of the Church’s mission to evangelize. “Develop the heart of Jesus, who we are told in today’s Gospel, wanted to feed the hungry crowd. Bring him to those who are hungry for him,” the bishop said.
He told them their new ministry would associate them more closely to the altar, from which Jesus feeds his people.
“The more time you spend near this altar, the more you should begin to feel at ease in carrying out your liturgical duties,” he said, also cautioning them not to become so relaxed or casual that they fail to realize they are approaching the most sacred of all liturgical events: the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
“You are approaching the altar of God, where Jesus Christ himself is broken for us and poured out for us in ritual, sign and symbol in such a way that it is his glorified body and blood, soul and divinity, substantially present to us that we receive.”
Sadly, there are many Catholics who either don’t know or don’t believe that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.
“Be witness to his presence by how you approach the altar and serve at this altar,” the bishop said. “Also, be a witness of his presence by how you depart from the altar – carrying the Eucharistic Christ within you.”
The Sunday Gospel will have the reading of the call of Peter, who, when he encountered Jesus, told him to “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man,” Bishop Malesic said. “So, have some humility as you come to this ministry. Be aware that you are as much in need of being fed by Jesus as are those you are being called to feed. You are not above the hungry crowd, you are a part of the hungry crowd,” he said.
“Stay close to the Eucharist in your prayer life. Visit the Blessed Sacrament often. You must continue to develop your relationship with Jesus. You will be sharing him with others, after all, in the Eucharist of the Mass. Give what you have received,” the bishop added.
He also encouraged the acolytes to be obedient to the commandment that the Lord gave to his apostles at the Last Supper: “Love one another as I also have loved you.”
After the Mass, the bishop spent time visiting with family and friends of the new acolytes and posing for photos.