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By Robbie Paraan, SJ 

Toronto, May 24, 2024 — Ten Jesuits were ordained as transitional deacons at St. Basil’s Catholic Parish on Friday, the largest group of Jesuits ordained as deacons in Canada in 40 years. Coming from all over the world, they represent the universality of the Jesuit order and the Catholic Church. This milestone signals the Jesuits’ ongoing commitment to nurturing global leadership rooted in service and faith. 

The new deacons include Marc-André Veselovsky, SJ (Canada); Frantz Georges, SJ (Haiti); Alexander Salas Parra, SJ (Venezuela); Binay Kerketta, SJ (India-Jamshedpur); Christian Lischka, SJ (Central Europe); Jaeison Monteiro, SJ (India-Goa); James Kennedy, SJ (USA Midwest); João Haetinger, SJ (Brazil); Jubin Nath Maria Lawrence, SJ (India-Jamshedpur); and Peter Berger, SJ (USA West). 

The celebration was presided by Most Reverend Terrence T. Prendergast, SJ, who began his homily by reminding the ordinandi of the significance of being ordained on the feast of Our Lady of the Way. Mary was present from the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry until the end. The deacons must seek her intercession as they begin their own ordained ministry in anticipation of their future priestly ministry.  

The responsibilities of a deacon are varied and manifold, but at the heart of their ministry is the charism of service. A deacon is a minister of the word, of liturgy, and of charity. In all these areas, he is primarily a servant leader who helps the people of God encounter Christ in a personal way, transforming them into disciples and missionaries ready to share their experience of God with others, especially those who are poor and at the margins. 

Archbishop Prendergast noted how in their years of formation, especially as part of the Regis Jesuit Community, the ordinandi have already been involved in the ministry of service to the poor in their work with parishes, church groups, and other socio-pastoral institutions. He encouraged them to continue to take to heart Pope Francis’ call to go to the margins, to the peripheries, and make the Church present there so that the wounded might receive care, healing, reconciliation, and joy.  

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In the rite of ordination, right after being vested with the dalmatic and stole, each ordinand kneels before the bishop who hands him the Book of the Gospels while saying, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become, and see that you believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” Archbishop Prendergast ended his homily by imploring his brothers never to allow themselves to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel. “Now you are not only hearers of this Gospel, but also its ministers.” Thus, despite the many duties the new deacons must perform regularly, they must never neglect their promise to pray and encounter the Word so that the joy of the Gospel might constantly fill their hearts and lives. 

Transitional deacons are ordained in view of being ordained as priests after some period, which could vary from a few months to over a year. As the archbishop explained to the deacons, the many Jesuit and diocesan priests, religious, lay friends and family gathered, “The deacon is a member of the first and foundational tier of the hierarchy of Holy Orders. Every bishop is first a priest. Every priest is first a deacon. Thus, the charism of the deacon is the foundation upon which the priestly and episcopal charisms are built.” 

After the ordination mass, the faithful greeted the new deacons outside the church before proceeding to an intimate reception with family, close friends, and Jesuits. On Saturday and Sunday, the deacons served and preached at masses for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity at parishes they had been serving the past years. 

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