CHARLESTON — In a moving ceremony of commitment and obedience, three seminarians were ordained into the diaconate June 13 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
C. Thomas Miles, Michael J. Oenbrink and Robert J. Sayer were presented to the faithful and their families and made the commitment to celibacy and the promise of obedience in the Rite of Ordination.
Bishop David B. Thompson presided at the rite and, during his homily, reminded the men of their calling. The Bishop urged them to consider carefully the ministry to which they were promoted saying they were servants to all. The deacons, he said, are disciples of Jesus who come to serve and not be served.
The rite of ordination involves the calling of the candidates to the altar and presenting them to the Bishop.
The Bishop elects them and presents them to the assembly for consent which is shown by applause and song. The commitment to celibacy and promise of obedience is followed by the laying on of hands, an ancient gesture rooted in Sacred Scripture and the sign of the conferral of the Holy Spirit through whose power the Church ordains the men to service. The act of ordination is completed when the Bishop offers the Prayer of Consecration.The deacons are then vested with the stole and dalmatic by their chosen priest or deacon.
Vesting Rev. Mr. Miles was Rev. Mr. James L. West while Rev. Mr. Oenbrink was vested by Father Ronald R. Cellini and Rev. Mr. Sayer by Rev. Mr. Joseph E. Carmody.
At the presentation of the Book of Gospels the deacons place their hand on the holy word and the Bishop says, “receive the gospel of Christ whose herald you now are, believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.”
At the reception that followed, in between the countless hugs and good wishes from family and friends, the three deacons said they each experienced the same feeling during the rite.
“I wasn’t nervous,” Deacon Miles said. “I felt a deep sense of abiding peace and now I am elated. It was wonderful to see my family and friends too. The ordination was not just for me it was for the people of God and I am deeply moved to see them.”
Deacon Oenbrink described the ceremony as beautiful and was particularly grateful to see old classmates from The Citadel and the people who came from the parishes he had attended and served throughout his life.
Deacon Sayer said he felt the same peaceful calm because he was prepared for this moment but he did admit, however, to a small concern about tripping on the way to the altar.
The deacons will return to their seminaries in the fall but will be assigned to parishes this summer.
Deacon Sayer will be assigned to St. Mark in Newberry, Deacon Oenbrink to Blessed Sacrament in West Ashley and Deacon Miles to Nativity on James Island.