It was a wonderful morning for the North American College and the Church in the United States and Australia as 40 young men – 39 from the U.S, and one from the diocese of Melbourne in Australia – were ordained to the diaconate at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Houston-Galveston and president of the USCCB, presided at the liturgy in the presence of scores of priests and bishops and three cardinals, James Harvey, Raymond Burke and James Stafford, and hundreds of joy-filled family members, and seminary staff.

He congratulated the 40 new deacons but also mentioned that 17 others were ordained in their home dioceses.

I have attended these ordinations for years and years and always rejoice with the young men, many of whom I have met in their previous three years at NAC. I rejoice with their families, as well, in particular their parents. When I can, I meet the Moms and Dads and congratulate them and thank them for raising such a wonderful young man, so ready to give his life in service to others and to the Lord.

The Mass and ordination ceremony was long, three hours, but ever so beautiful with the various rites – the Election of the Candidates, the Promise of the Elect, the Litany of Supplication, the Laying on of Hands and Prayer of Ordination, the Vesting of new deacons and Handing on of Book of Gospels.

Once vested in the stole and dalmatic, the new deacons process to a table at the bottom of the steps to the papal altar where chalices and ciboria have been placed. They then bring them to the altar for the preparation of the gifts.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist then starts.

I took a number of photos during the Mass, including many of the apse where the stunning and historic Altar of the Chair is located.

How many times during Mass did I look at the Chair, at the statues of the four Doctors of the Church, two from the East and two from the West, and pray for the new deacons and for the priests and bishops on the altar and for our Church. I asked the Lord to please, please come to our aid in this dreadful time for the Church when so many priests have broken their vows.

I asked the Lord to stay with and to look after the new deacons till their last breath. I asked Him to please “sit on their shoulder.”

I prayed that we all, as St. Francis was asked to do by the Lord, can rebuild His Church.

A reception at NAC followed Mass – hundreds of friends and family members in the main courtyard of the seminary enjoyed lights snacks and libations.

Note the crown of thorns at the base of the water spray in the center of the garden pool….

Celebratory dinners continue around Rome through the evening, I am sure!