By Adam Lalonde, SJ
May 15, 2023 – The Jesuit community of Regis College had the joy this Saturday of celebrating the ordination of two new deacons for the Society of Jesus: Matthew Hendzel, SJ and Raymond Parcon, SJ. Matthew is from Winnipeg and was ordained for the Province of Canada & Haiti, while Raymond, hailing from the Philippines, was ordained for the United States West Coast Province.
Jesuit scholastics are ordained to the transitional diaconate as part of their preparation for ordination to the priesthood. While the length between ordinations sometimes varies in the Society of Jesus across the world according to local needs, customs, and sometimes the individual, it is honoured as a time when the Jesuit is able to transition into the clerical life and public ministry by accompanying the priest at the altar, proclaiming the word, baptizing children, and performing other ministerial functions before taking on priesthood. In the Canadian province there is usually a space of just over a year between the two ordinations.
This year’s diaconal ordination took place at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in downtown Toronto which has been a centre of Jesuit ministry for many decades. We were blessed with a beautiful day and joined by the family and friends of both ordinandi in person and online across the world. Fr. Gilles Mongeau, SJ socius to the Canadian Provincial, came to represent the provincial superior. Father Provincial, Erik Oland, SJ was in Paris with two other men of the Province of Canada & Haiti who were being ordained that same day. As is our tradition, tens of other Jesuits, as well as diocesan priests, and other religious joined in the concelebration of this joyous event.
The ordination itself was performed by Bishop Ivan Camilleri, who was recently ordained as auxiliary bishop of Toronto. In his homily Bishop Camilleri exhorted the ordinandi to be models of loving service according to the order they were to receive. In the beautiful tradition of the ritual of this sacrament, immediately following the ordination itself in the liturgy, Matthew and Raymond were greeted by their brother Jesuit deacons present at the mass, who will be ordained to the priesthood later this summer. Matthew and Raymond then took the place of these deacons at the altar to assist the bishop for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and concluding rites.
Jesuit scholastics are ordained to the transitional diaconate as part of their preparation for ordination to the priesthood.
The rest of the day was followed by celebration. First there was a luncheon at the parish for all people who had come to celebrate with us. The evening followed with a more intimate reception and supper hosted at Regis College for the Jesuit community and the family and friends of the new deacons. The luncheon was supported by parishioners at Lourdes while the other Jesuits of the Regis College community helped with setup and cleanup at both the Luncheon and supper as well as various jobs and ministries at the mass. Every year it is a joyful team effort to honour this special event in the life of the Church and the Society of Jesus. The following day Matthew assisted at his first Sunday mass as a deacon at 9am and again at 11am at Saint Peter’s Parish, Toronto. Raymond assisted at the 11:30am mass at Our Lady of Lourdes.
The first deacons were commissioned to look after the needy in the Church and to serve them with charitable love. The name “deacon” itself comes from the Greek diakonia which means “service”. This is a privileged time for a Jesuit to remember these origins of humble service. This order of service will not be left behind at priestly ordination but will rather be subsumed into their priesthood so that as priests they always remember the servant leadership to the community which Jesus himself modeled for us. Please pray for these men as they enter into this new phase of their Jesuit life, that all they do may be for the love of neighbour and the greater glory of God.
The name “deacon” itself comes from the Greek diakonia which means “service”. This is a privileged time for a Jesuit to remember these origins of humble service.