The Diocese of Belleville welcomes Deacon Brett Judkins who was ordained May 23, the eve of Pentecost at St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville by Bishop Edward K. Braxton.
During his homily, the bishop spoke directly to Brett Judkins who was seated in front of the bishop in the sanctuary.
Immediately after the homily, the deacon candidate lay prostrate in the sanctuary as the choir sang the Litany of Saints.
Then, laying his hands on the candidate’s head, the bishop prayed the prayer of ordination.
Following are excerpts from Bishop Braxton’s homily:
“Dear Brett, last Monday morning we sat in the sunshine in the garden of my residence and reflected on the meaning of this day of your ordination as deacon, the importance of your family, and your understanding of the sacred Scripture just proclaimed. You spoke with ease of your great love and concern for your devoted parents, Kathleen and Paul, and your grandmother, Jane. You spoke about your eager anticipation to move from the seminary world of intense study about ministry to the concrete, existential world of actually exercising ministry in the church. You said you were anxious to be sent by your Bishop into the community of faith so as to serve the people of God, proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, explaining the fullness of the Catholic faith, accompanying the Christian faithful on their journey from God to God, aiding them as they learn, love and live their faith. Above all else, you hope as a deacon to communicate God’s love to all the people you serve. Echoing our Pontiff emeritus, Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, God is love!
“You told me it is your hope that as a deacon you can show forth God’s love in a special way to those who feel estranged and accompany them, encourage them to realize that they should not rush to close the door on the church simply because of their questions, doubts or disagreements. The church will never close the door on them.
“Our conversation turned to St. Luke’s account of the adventures of the apostles after the death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord. I urged you, Brett, to select Stephen, the persecuted proto-martyr as your model of tenacity for your diaconal ministry. You assured me that as a deacon and, if God so wills, as a priest, you will not have a roving eye, you will take your solemn oaths seriously: your promise to hold fast to the mystery of faith; to remain celibate as a sign of your dedication to Christ for the sake of the kingdom; to maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer that is proper to your way of life; and your promise of obedience and respect to me and my successors. You assured me that you would. When I told you of a priest who looked me in the face when I reminded him of these same solemn promises and said to me, ‘O Bishop, I got over those vows after about the first four or five years as a priest,’ You said, firmly and forcefully, ‘Bishop that will not be me! I will not be that priest.’ I believed what you said!
“With a breeze blowing through the trees and the sunlight gleaming on the pond, with the fish swimming about blissfully (fish =ICTHUS, Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior), we continued our lectio divina praying over St. Luke’s account of the Good News of Jesus Christ. You focused on ‘The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.’ These words made you think of this local Church. You are the only man being ordained a deacon, when we need five or six each year to take the places of those who die, are sick, retire, or simply walk away from their ministry. You committed yourself as a deacon to join forces eagerly with the Director of Vocations to nurture urgently needed vocations in the hearts of young men in the Diocese of Belleville. As you know, I personally asked every parish in the Diocese to send me the names of five young men who I could personally invite to this morning’s ordination. Though only thirty-two parishes responded, a number of young men and their families are here. It is their first visit to the Cathedral, their first time participating in an ordination liturgy. Join me in praying that the Holy Spirit may prompt some of these young men to consider the priesthood. This morning, Brett, you and I must remind everyone gathered around this altar that there is no Church without the Eucharist, and no Eucharist without priests.
“The next scriptural pericope we prayed over, Brett, was Jesus saying, “Go on your way for behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” Those words of the Lord spoke to your heart. You said, as a deacon ‘I realize I am being ordained in a world that is making every effort to push the Good News of Jesus Christ and the voice of the Catholic Church out of the public square. There is an effort to silence the voice of religious faith and moral conscience, arguing that religious values and beliefs are all private opinions, which have no place in the public square.’ The world in which you will serve argues that moral issues no longer exist, only social issues, about which everyone has a different opinion. There is no commonly accepted basis for calling them moral issues. The Catholic Church has no right to impose her idiosyncratic beliefs about issues such as marriage, family life, human dignity, economic justice, war and peace, the endangerment of the environment, and inadequate immigration laws, the care for the terminally ill. (Hence, this very day, it is expected that the once Catholic country of Ireland will become the first country in the world to adopt ‘same-sex marriage,’ by a popular vote.)
“To that you said you will be a brave and faithful lamb even in the midst of wolves, knowing that Stephen, the first deacon, was put to death because he would not compromise his faith and conform to the public square of his day. You said with great resolve that secular American culture, which at times worships the “god” of rationalism, materialism and relativism desperately needs the wisdom of St. John Paul II’s “fides et ratio” in order to worship the God who is God. We need to maintain the dialogue between faith and reason, faith without science becomes fideism, science without faith becomes scientism.
“We ended our visit, Brett, praying about tomorrow’s great feast of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost Sunday. You spoke eloquently of the Holy Spirit as the eternal love between God, the Father and God, the Son. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be the Church, deacons, priests, bishops, sisters, laity continuing the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ amid the day-to-day joys and struggles of a sometimes messy and suffering world. You told me of your prayer that the Holy Spirit will empower you with the grace you need to do incredible work and accomplish good things in the service of God’s holy people in southern Illinois.
“On this Vigil of Pentecost, dear Brett, my prayer for you and all in this Local Church (through the intercession of Blessed Oscar Romero, the martyred Bishop of San Salvador, who is being beatified today) is this:
‘Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen. AMEN!’”