On June 6, the feast of St. Norbert, Frater Jeffrey Himes, O. Praem a member of the Norbertines community at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, PA was ordained to the Diaconate by Most Reverend Timothy C. Senior, who is the Auxiliary to the Archbishop of Philadelphia and Bishop-Elect of the Diocese of Harrisburg.
There were also several main concelebrant presiders including Rt Rev Dominic A. Rossi, O. Praem who is the Abbot of Daylesford Abbey and Very Reverend John C. Zagarella, O. Praem who is the Prior of the Daylesford Abbey.
The Ordination featured Daylesford’s ministers from the entire Daylesford Abbey community. Mr. Thomas Christopher served as the Master of Ceremonies. The Daylesford Abbey Choir and brass instrument accompaniment was led by Garth Haynes, Daylesford Abbey’s Director of Music. Dr. William Carr, Steinway Artist, played piano during the Mass.
This was indeed a celebration of great joy, with many guests in attendance. The diaconate is a transitional step towards the priesthood. Deacons play a vital role in the Catholic Church. They continue the work of the early church deacons as ministers of charity. They also may proclaim the Gospel at Mass and assist the Priests in other liturgical functions. This special event followed a period of discernment and spiritual formation, including Frater Jeffrey studying theology at St. Charles Seminary in Overbrook, PA. where he was a student.
The day was particularly significant because it was also the feast of St. Norbert, a 12th century nobleman, courtier, ascetic, legendary peacemaker, and an exemplar of the apostolic way of life. St. Norbert founded the Canons Regular of Premontre (or the Norbertines) in the over 900 years ago. Frater Jeffrey and the Priests at Daylesford Abbey continue this tradition today.
The beautiful and powerful liturgy featured the signs and symbols of ordination including the Litany of Supplication, the Laying on of Hands by the Bishop, the Prayer of Ordination, the Investiture with the Dalmatic and Deacon Stole, and the handing on of the Book of the Gospels.
During the Ordination Mass, the Bishop asked if Frater Jeffrey is ready for to be ordained and the Abbot replied. “After inquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those concerned with his training, I testify that he has been found worthy.” Then the Bishop replies that he has chosen Frater Jeffrey for Ordination, and this statement is greeted with a great round of applause.
A powerful and ancient ritual then occurred: the laying on of hands by the Bishop, accompanied by prayers and blessings. The Bishop invites the people to pray that the “Father will mercifully pour out his blessings on Frater Jeffrey who in his kindness, he raises to the sacred Order of the Diaconate.” In one of the more dramatic moments in the liturgy, Frater Jeffrey lays prostrate on the floor, while the rest of the community kneels in prayer.
The Bishop then extends his hands over Frater Jeffrey and the ordination itself takes place. At this point, the Bishop begins the prayer of consecration, asking God to draw near and recalls the gift of the first Deacons. The Bishop continues, “Send forth upon him, Lord, we pray, the Holy Spirit, that he may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace for the faithful carrying out of the work of the ministry.”
After this, Frater Jeffrey knelt before the Bishop who laid his hands on Frater Jeffrey’s head, in silence. This “laying on of hands” is rooted in tradition. Christ laid His hands on the apostles at the very first ordination. With this, Frater Jeffrey was ordained a Deacon.
Following the liturgy, the community members and family and friends gathered to congratulate Frater Jeffrey as they celebrated with him this important step towards ordination to the Priesthood.