Four deacon candidates receive Rite of Acolyte

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EARLY – Bishop Walker Nickless presented a chalice and paten to each of the four men during the Rite of Acolyte on Oct. 21 at Sacred Heart Church.

The men preparing for the permanent diaconate who received the Rite of Acolyte were Mike Higgins, Brad Magill, David Penton and Dale Tigges.

“The term acolyte might seem strange for a lot of you,” said Bishop Nickless. “It comes from the combination of an old English word and a French word that means following. It refers to someone who follows and admires a leader. In the church, it refers to someone who helps a person celebrating the Eucharist.”

Next step to ordination

Higgins, Magill, Penton and Tigges took another step in the preparation for their ordination to the permanent diaconate, explained the bishop.

“This is indeed something special,” he said. “Acolytes are not glorified servers. They are called especially in holy orders to something very special around the table of the Lord. For them, it continues to be an opportunity to thank God for the gift of their faith and the gift of the calling they have received to serve the church as deacons.”

The community has a chance, Bishop Nickless expressed, to pray for the four men and ask “God to bless them on their journey to the diaconate.”

“We also congratulate them and thank their family, their relatives and friends who have supported them on this journey and their deacon community that is with them today,” he said. “They promise in this brief ceremony to respect the Eucharist, to be reverent around it and devoted to it.”

Bishop Nickless reminded those present that God called the four men to prepare for ordination as deacons.

“This is a step,” he said. “They continue to take those steps in faith that God would be true to his promises. As St. Luke tells us today, these men are called to be witnesses to the Lord, to give their lives as a promise to the presence of God in our midst.”

Rite of Acolyte

Speaking directly to the four men, Bishop Nickless said, “Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the church’s ministry.”

“It is your responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry and as special ministers to give holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick,” continued the bishop. “Because you are specifically called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness.”

Kneeling before Bishop Nickless, each of the candidates accepted a chalice and paten from the bishop.

“Take these vessels of bread and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist,” prayed the bishop. “Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his church.”

Following the Rite of Acolyte, Higgins assisted with the remainder of the Mass along with Deacon Dan Goebel.

Incredible, peaceful, joyful

Penton expressed the Rite of Acolyte was “absolutely incredible.” He is a parishioner from the Five Saints Grouping of Algona, Bode, Whittemore and West Bend.

“I was very nervous on the drive over,” he said. “When I got here and Mass started, it was a complete calming. To be in the presence of all my soon-to-be brothers and the bishop was incredible. My family was here supporting me.”

The past four and a half years of formation, Penton said, have been “the best years in my faith. The formation has not stopped. It has challenged me. I look forward to continuing that formation, being challenged by parishioners asking questions and helping people grow in their faith.”

Higgins, a parishioner at Sacred Heart in Early, thought he would be nervous for the rite, but he wasn’t.

“It was a sense of peace that came with it,” he said. “I am ready. Father Tim (Friedrichsen) said he is going to have me up helping at the altar. I am going to be able to help and train the servers.”

Higgins had been practicing assisting with Mass and said it was nice to be more involved in the Mass.

Algona St. Cecelia parishioner Magill said it was joyous to take another step towards being ordained a permanent deacon.

“It was another special day in this whole journey,” said the candidate, who is looking forward to assisting the priest and deacon further as an acolyte. “Most of the time it’s (formation) wonderful. It’s challenging, but the wonderful part is learning more about our faith.”

Though the rite is simple, said Tigges, a parishioner at Holy Cross in Sioux City, “it becomes overwhelming as you go through it listening to what the bishop says and realizing it is another step in your journey.”

“I am looking forward to doing more service in the church with people and the next step in the process,” said Tigges. “The guys I have met, the friends I have made, what I have learned and how I think I have grown have been a real joy and a tremendous experience.”

The four men are slated for permanent diaconate ordination on May 12, 2018.

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