Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City installed 18 men from parishes throughout the diocese as acolytes, an important step in their preparation for becoming permanent deacons, during Mass on Saturday evening, March 10, in the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
Blessed Pope Paul VI, in his 1972 apostolic letter “Ministeria quaedam” (“Certain Ministries”), prescribed that men preparing for the sacrament of holy orders as priests or permanent deacons should serve as lectors and acolytes for a time during their formation “in order to be better disposed for the future service of the word and of the altar.”
“The acolyte,” Blessed Pope Paul wrote, “is appointed to aid the deacon and to minister to the priest. It is therefore his duty to attend to the service of the altar and to assist the deacon and the priest in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of Mass; he is also to distribute Holy Communion as a permanently-instituted Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.”
After preaching a homily emphasizing the importance of sacrificial service, Bishop McKnight raised the men in the group to the ministry of acolyte.
To each who knelt before him, he ceremonially presented a paten of bread for the Mass, saying, “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of His Church.”
The new acolytes began with a year of formal discernment and have been in formation for two and a half years. They hope to be ordained deacons in 2019.
They were participating in the diocese’s March 10-11 retreat for permanent deacons.