Photo: Felix Carroll
With the help of Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, Deacon Michael Gaitley, MIC, is vested with the stole and Dalmatic.
Call Him 'Deacon'!
By Felix Carroll (May 5, 2010)
In an ordination Mass underscored by personal vows made public and public vows made personal, a Marian brother became a Marian deacon on Saturday, May 1.
The diaconate ordination of Michael Gaitley marked the latest in a series of joyful occasions for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, which in recent years has attracted an unprecedented number of men. This fall alone, eight novices are joining the community. The men, like Deacon Michael, are drawn to the Congregation's charism, particularly the spread of The Divine Mercy message and devotion to Mary Immaculate.
Brother Michael was ordained along with Br. David Nelson Genders, a Carmelite.
"We beseech You, Lord, look with favor on these servants of Yours who will minister at Your holy altar and whom we now humbly dedicate to the office of deacon," said His Excellency the Most Reverend Barry Knestout, auxiliary Bishop of Washington, D.C., the principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass of Ordination. The Mass was held in the Crypt Church inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, D.C.
View a photo gallery of the ordination and Br. Michael's first Mass the following day in Brookville, Md.
On a Roll
It has been an extraordinary four months for Deacon Michael. In February, he published his first book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus (Marian Press). It is now in its second printing. In March, he professed his final vows as a Marian of the Immaculate Conception. On that day, the Very Rev. Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, Provincial Superior, announced that Deacon Michael, 33, would be named director of the Association of Marian Helpers, the Marians' spiritual benefit society. Deacon Michael will take over the reigns from Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC.
Deacon Michael is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood this fall.
Effortlessly able to toggle between the sublime and madcap, Deacon Michael, a California native, is a methodical thinker, dynamic speaker and erudite academic who also rides a skateboard — at times to his own peril (the road down from Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass., is steep and curvy, and he has the scars to prove it).
Well versed in sacred Scripture, intricacies of Church doctrine and encyclicals of Pope John Paul II, Deacon Michael also quotes — often apropos of nothing — droll dialogue from the 2004 film "Napoleon Dynamite," a romp in the milieu of all-American geekhood.
"I would tell my children, 'Walk to the beat of a different drum,'" said his mother, Linda, at a party following the ordination. "I urged them, 'Don't follow the way of the world, but keep on the path toward God.' That's always been my hope. Michael has done that. He's well balanced. He has an intensity to serve. He's prayerful, spiritual, but he's also zany and has a joy in his heart."
Athletic, the young Michael wanted to jump like Michael Jordan, so he trained himself. "He could make a 42-inch vertical leap," his mother said. "We have pictures of it."
Following high school — and following a prayer for direction to St. Thérèse of Lisieux — he turned his back on an athletic scholarship at sunny UCLA and enrolled at Franciscan University in the rust belt of Steubenville, Ohio. There in Steubenville, he felt the call to give his life to God, marking the beginning of 14 years of formation, a time of faithfulness, struggles, and perseverance.
The Future 'Father'
"The first words that come to mind is that he'll be a dynamic priest," said Deacon Michael's brother Joe. "He relates to people. He'll be able to evangelize to people who maybe aren't inclined to being open to such things. He connects with people of all ages and backgrounds."
"He brings a lot to the table, and he'll bring a lot in his ministry in serving others," said Deacon Michael's father, Michael.
Not just a happy day, his ordination was historical as well.
"We have three deacons for the first time in the history of the Community," said Fr. Dan, the Provincial Superior. "I actually have goose bumps every time I think of that."
Deacon Michael joins Deacon Jim McCormack, MIC, and Deacon Kenneth Dos Santos, MIC, both of whom, like Deacon Michael, are preparing for their priestly ordinations.
"What's so mind-boggling for me," said Fr. Dan, "is how all three are great, wonderful men. I'm particularly looking forward to Deacon Michael taking over as the director of the Association of Marian Helpers. He's going to be excellent. He's going to revive the Association, and it's very exciting."
Declaring His Intentions
Flanked by his family, including his sister Heather and a veritable nursery of nieces and nephews, Deacon Michael at turns sat, stood, kneeled, and lay prostrate, as is customary in a ceremony that solemnly and joyfully binds diaconate candidates to a life of self-sacrifice in service of God the Father and His people.
Before the gathering in the Crypt Church, he declared his intentions to:
• "discharge the office of deacon with humble charity";
• "hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience";
• "proclaim this faith in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church's tradition";
• "keep forever this commitment to remain celibate as a sign of [his] dedication to Christ the Lord for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven, in the service of God and man";
• "maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer"; and
• "celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the people of God and, indeed, for the whole world"; and "conform [his] way of life always to the example of Christ, of whose Body and Blood [he] will minister at the altar."
"I do," Deacon Michael said, "with the help of God."
Raised to the diaconate, Deacon Michael can now minister at the altar, proclaim the Gospel, give homilies, prepare the sacrifice of the Mass, distribute the Lord's Body and Blood to the faithful, as well as administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, bring viaticum to the dying, and conduct funeral rites.
"As deacons, that is, as ministers of Jesus Christ who came among His disciples as One who served," said Bishop Knestout in his homily, "do the will of God from the heart. Serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord."
We invite you to listen to Deacon Michael's first homily, given on May 2, 2010, in Brookville, Md. Sorry, but in the first 90 seconds of the audio, the quality is poor. It gets better.
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