Keith Garvin Ordained to Transitional Diaconate

I’m nervous; I feel like a groom,” said Keith Garvin. He was standing in the sanctuary of St. John Berchmans Cathedral during the rehearsal for his diaconate ordination. A few seminarians present kidded him, “Why be nervous? Isn’t this your third ordination?”

They were referring to the fact that Keith has made a circuitous journey toward the Catholic priesthood. Raised as a Methodist, Keith became a Baptist preacher, then an Episcopal priest, before joining the Catholic Church.

In his homily during the ordination, Bishop Duca referred to Keith’s long journey, then added, “But serving as a deacon, then as a priest, will be the last line on your curriculum vitae.”

The ordination liturgy, which many believe to be one of the most beautiful in the Church, has not been celebrated in the diocese for five years. “We’re a little rusty,” laughed diocesan liturgist Dianne Rachel—though none in the congregation could tell.

An ordination to the transitional diaconate is for men who will go on to become priests.  Essentially, the ordinand makes three promises: obedience to the bishop, daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours and lifelong celibacy.

Commenting on this last promise, Bishop Duca said, “Celibacy is a commitment to love—to love the people by sharing of yourself. And you must also allow the people to love you as well. We only discover who we really are through sacrificial love. I really believe that.”

A particularly resonant line during the ordination is when the bishop presents the ordinand with the book of the Gospels, enjoining him: “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

The congregation included Keith’s family and friends, permanent deacons, a dozen priests and seven seminarians who participated as altar servers. Seminarian Jerry Daigle did a beautiful job as Master of Ceremonies.

When invited by the bishop to address those present at the end of Mass, Deacon Keith said, “I ask that you pray for me, that I can be faithful in this ministry. And if I’m not,” he paused, “Tell the bishop!” A few moments later, the newly-minted deacon recessed down the aisle, beaming with joy.

At a reception afterwards, Keith’s sister Cathy, an Episcopalian, said she was glad that her brother had found his life’s calling. “He always said he wanted to work in the Church, ever since he was a teenager. I’m very happy for him.”

Also present was Msgr. Tim Hogan, Vicar for Clergy for the Archdiocese of Detroit, who met Keith in the Navy when he served as an Episcopalian chaplain.  “I told him back then that his theology, his ecclesiology, was perfectly in line with Rome, so why not just jump the Tiber?” remembers Fr. Hogan.  A few years later, after much soul searching, Keith became Catholic, received into the Church by his friend Msgr. Hogan.

Deacon Keith is assigned to Christ the King parish in Bossier City, where he will serve until his ordination to priesthood, scheduled for May 31, 2014.

by Sam Alzheimer, Vianney Vocations

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