Celebrations as nine deacons ordained in Diocese of Down and Connor
A BARRISTER who became one of nine men to be ordained as a deacon yesterday has spoken of his joy.
Prominent lawyer Brett Lockhart QC, who represented the Omagh bombing families, was raised as a Presbyterian but later became a Catholic.
He said he was thrilled to be among those ordained at St Peter's Cathedral in west Belfast yesterday.
"I'm just overjoyed," he said.
"I was a Presbyterian and became a Catholic 20 years ago, and this has been an extraordinary journey.
"I am still loving parts of the Presbyterian background that I come from but being received into the Catholic Church, and now being able to serve the church, is just overwhelming and brilliant."
Nine men were ordained as permanent deacons in the Diocese of Down and Connor. They are the first deacons to be ordained in the diocese since the Permanent Diaconate was re-introduced by the Second Vatican Council.
The men's ordination was celebrated by Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor.
Bishop Treanor congratulated the men on their ordination and expressed his appreciation for their dedication.
"To these men and to their families, I express heartfelt gratitude and appreciation and I assure them of my prayers and support. I commend them to the prayers of the people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Down and Connor," he said.
"We thank and congratulate these men for the time and energy they have put onto the formation. We also thank and congratulate their wives who have accompanied, and supported, them along the way."
A permanent deacon receives his mission from the Bishop and is then assigned to work as a member of a team, under the leadership of the parish priest.
They are intended to play a key role in encouraging the congregation to actively participate in the church.
Following their ordination, the ministry of the nine new deacons will include serving at the the altar during Mass, bringing the Eucharist to the sick at home and in hospital, presiding at the exposition of the blessed sacrament and benediction, celebrating baptisms and marriages and presiding at funeral rites including reception and burial.