The triumphant chant “Hail Thee, Festival Day” was a fittingly joyous opening for the May 21 Ordination of Alexander T. Brown as a Transitional Deacon. Bishop Alfred Schlert administered the first degree of Holy Orders during a concelebrated Mass at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
Brown has been studying for the past seven years at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, receiving top honors in the area of homiletics. With his Ordination to the diaconate, Brown began a year-long period of service and preparation that will culminate in his Ordination to the Priesthood.
As a Transitional Deacon, Brown will proclaim the Gospel and, at the discretion of his pastor, deliver the homily. He will read the intercessions, call for the exchange of peace, assist the priest with distribution of Holy Communion, purify and arrange the sacred vessels, and dismiss the faithful at the end of Mass. Additionally, Deacon Brown will have the faculties to baptize, officiate at nuptial ceremonies outside of Mass, and conduct the Rite of Committal at the cemetery following a funeral Mass.
Bishop Schlert enumerated many of the diaconal responsibilities during the Calling and Election of the Candidate, in which Brown was presented to the Bishop as worthy of Ordination.
“In all these duties,” said the Bishop, “let him act with the help of God in such a way that you recognize him as a disciple of Him who did not come to be served, but to serve.”
As a candidate for the diaconate, Brown made three resolutions: celibacy, to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. To seal his promise of obedience, Brown knelt and placed his hands between the Bishop’s hands in a gesture of fidelity. The Bishop responded, “May God Who has begun the good work in you now bring it to fulfillment.”
In one of the most moving segments of the ceremony, Brown prostrated himself before the altar as a sign of total submission to God and complete reliance on His grace. The cantor led the congregation in chanting the Litany of the Saints, to ask the saints’ intercession.
Brown was vested by Deacon Christopher Kinsella, receiving the deacon’s stole, which is worn during celebration of the Sacraments, and the deacon’s dalmatic, outer garment worn at Mass.
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Schlert laughingly noted that it was the first time he had ordained a blacksmith, and would probably be the last time.
“But we are grateful, Alex, because you bring your gifts, your talents, your depth of heart and spirit to the precious vocation that you have been given. You have the tools necessary for the task at hand.”
Deacon Brown has been appointed by Bishop Schlert to serve as a Transitional Deacon at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena Parish.
Brown is the youngest of four children of Randolph Brown and Dierdre Sweeney-Brown, and is a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, Bath. As a homeschooled student, Brown was able to incorporate volunteer and work hours into his schedule, serving as an apprentice blacksmith for the historical society. He also indulged his love for Irish music by singing with The Four Leaf Clovers, a band that he formed with three homeschooled friends.
“My time in The Four Leaf Clovers was very formative,” he said after the Ordination. “An entertainer masters himself so that he can use the whole of his body to express something that the audience otherwise wouldn’t see. As Catholics bearing witness to Christ, we are called to do very much the same, committing our entire selves to making Christ visible. We proclaim Our Lord with words, but also in how we sound, act, and look.”
The Ordination Mass may be viewed on both the Diocese of Allentown Facebook page and on YouTube.