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The Deacon's Bench

More ordination news — this time, from Rochester, where one of the new deacons is a married former Protestant minister on his way to the priesthood:

Years ago, when he was a scuba diver in the Navy, Lon Smith ran out of oxygen at a depth of more than 100 feet.

But he survived, and the near-death experience was one of the many times that he felt the call to the service of God. So four-and-a-half years ago, he started on the road to becoming a deacon, enrolling in the St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.

On Saturday, Smith and eight other men were ordained into the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester’s diaconate at a ceremony at the Sacred Heart Cathedral.

“It’s the beginning of a new journey and a deeper understanding of Christ,” said Smith, 52, of Greece.

Hundreds of people attended the ordination ceremony, in which Mark Bovenzi of Irondequoit, Patrick DiLaura of Fairport, Peter Dohr of Honeoye Falls, Joseph Erway and Paul Sartori of Elmira, Raymond Garbach of Penfield, Lon Smith of Greece and Thomas Uschold of Spencerport were welcomed into the permanent diaconate.

Scott Caton of Spencerport, a former Protestant minister, was also ordained to a one-year transitional diaconate in anticipation of his ordination as a priest next year. The married father of six teaches at Roberts Wesleyan College.

Caton’s request for ordination as a Catholic priest was reviewed and approved by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Pope Benedict XVI. The approval reflects a rare exception to the discipline of celibacy that the Catholic Church requires of Latin Rite priests, a diocesan statement said.

Currently, the diocese has more than 100 active permanent deacons, whose duties include baptisms, leading prayers, witnessing marriages and conducting funerals. They often serve in parishes, hospitals and prisons.

There’s more at the link. Ad multos annos, brothers!

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