By Steve Neill Of The Catholic Virginian
The Catholic lay faithful of the Diocese of Richmond who had gathered at the Cathedral May 20 for the ordination liturgy of three transitional deacons were given high praise by Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo.
“Thank you for the tremendous environment that you have created in this diocese which brings us to this day,” he said in his welcome.
The three candidates each answered “Present” and individually came forward to the altar as their names were called.
They were John Baab, of St. Michael’s, Glen Allen; James O’Reilly, of St. Joan of Arc, Yorktown; and Nicholas Redmond, who grew up in Siver Spring, Md., but was a teacher in Charlottesville and a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish when he answered the call to priestly formation.
The three men then turned to face the congregation and received prolonged and jubilant applause.
In his homily Bishop DiLorenzo asserted that the three new deacons and their future ministry were similar to the role of the Apostles who were called to evangelize Christ’s message after Easter.
But first the Bishop spoke of the book The Greatest Generation written by Tom Brokaw in 1998.
In the book, Brokaw was referring to those Americans who were born in the 1920s and grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many of them then fought in World War II and were called “the greatest generation,” not because they sought fame and recognition, Brokaw said, but because their response was always that it was the right thing to do.
When American soldiers returned to their homeland “they went on to make America a wonderful place to live,” Bishop DiLorenzo said.
He spoke of Army General George Patton during World War II and his leadership of the 101st Airborne in December 1944. They fought in what was known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The 101st Airborne were told to hold the line in fierce fighting against the German Army.
Patton, of course, with his men were 100 miles away. They had to march in terrible weather.
“Patton was present to his men,” Bishop DiLorenzo said. “He placed a real value on these men.
“What I find interesting is that it reminds me of what we’ve been doing in the post-Easter season,” he continued.
“The Greatest Generation reminds us of the Apostles.
“The Apostles, after Easter, did pretty much the same thing,” Bishop DiLorenzo said, adding that they told others that Jesus was present to his Church.
Deacons Baab, O’Reilly and Redmond will now play a similar role in making sure Jesus’ message is heard, Bishop DiLorenzo suggested.
“These men will assist and serve you,” he said. An age-old question some have had is “who are the chosen people?”
“It is every man, woman and child,” the Bishop said.
“These three men know the answer to the question,” he continued. “They know that Jesus wants everyone to be part of his family.
“They will go out and invite and exhort and persuade people to be part of that family.”
Some people will see things differently and may not accept the invitation. But those who make a commitment to Jesus will not be led astray. They will do the right thing and follow God.
Bishop DiLorenzo again likened the characteristics of “the greatest generation” to be similar to the characteristics of the early Church.
“What is interesting is that what was characteristic of the early Church, these three young men are inviting us to have the same characteristics.
“We all want to be part of the Greatest Generation which is the Church of Jesus Christ.”