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Catching up with Deacon Chris

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We caught up with Deacon Chris Alar, MIC, just before the start of the New Year. We were curious about his life as a transitional deacon. Here's what he had to say:

Since my ordination last September, I have been performing diaconate responsibilities in three locations: at our Marian Scholasticate in Washington, D.C., at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Silver Springs, Md., and at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is also in Washington, D.C.

At the Scholasticate, I perform the duties of a deacon at the daily Mass, such as reading the Gospel, serving at the altar and, at least once a week, delivering a homily. Often, I also have the opportunity to give blessings to people and religious articles as I serve as deacon at our assisted living facility in Brookville, Md., 40 minutes north of Washington.

At St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, I assist at the Sunday Mass by serving at the altar, reading the Gospel, and often preaching the homily. I'm also teaching an RCIA class for about 15 people who are preparing to enter the Church this Easter. My role there is to give the class a better understanding of the Catholic faith in order to allow them to fully experience the Sacraments they are about to receive. Certainly, it's been a great opportunity to bring others to Christ. Additionally, it has really opened my eyes to the influence one can have, since by living our faith, we can lead others to the faith.

I'm also performing the duties of a deacon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is not a typical honor. That a Marian deacon has been asked to serve there and allowed to preach homilies is a testament to how the Marians are seen by the Catholic community in the Washington area.

I've been asked to be the homilist at the daily Mass there on Saturday each week. This is helpful to me since at the Scholasticate and the parish, I'm dealing with the same small groups of people week in and week out, but at the Basilica, I'm preaching to a much larger audience of pilgrims, tourists, and students. It's a totally different experience and totally exhilarating.

In addition to these ministerial duties, I have also been continuing my academic studies. I've just completed the first semester of my final year of seminary at the Dominican House of Studies after spending the last few years at Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.

I have also been taking classes towards a licentiate at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America.

Now that the school semester has ended, I've been asked to give some homilies here at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. Meeting pilgrims on Eden Hill has always been a joy for me.

My message to all Marian Helpers who keep us in their prayers is thank you for your prayers and support. I'm totally at peace that this is God's will for my life since I feel very comfortable as a deacon.

I'm looking forward to the day when I'm able to give back more to our Marian Helpers through the sacramental dimension of my ordained ministry as a priest.

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