Last week, I posted about the passing of Paul McArdle, hailed as the first permanent deacon in the United States.
A day or so later, Deacon Bill Ditewig (Deacon Dr. Ditewig, or Triple D) dropped me a note to set the record straight. Seems there was one other one before Deacon Paul:
On 1 June 1969, Bishop Fulton Sheen of Rochester ordained Michael Cole to the diaconate. He had earlier received Michael into full communion. Michael had been an Episcopalian priest before coming into the Catholic church, and the bishop ordained him a Catholic deacon with no formation, since in his opinion, Michael had already been formed sufficiently. About a year later, however, Deacon Cole resumed his former ministry as an Episcopalian priest, pastoring a community in Canada. (When I told this story once during a study day for priests and deacons, one wag asked, “So when was the first ordination that ‘took’?”). Deacon Paul’s ordination the following year was that “first ordination that took.”
As Paul Harvey would say: now you know the rest of the story.