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!



Many days in my life are so filled with events, celebrations, meetings, people, preparing and doing TV spots and radio programs, and even unexpected events that, on occasion, no time is left for my daily column. Yesterday and today have been two such days.

Yesterday, in particular, was the annual diaconate ordination at the North American College, and a report and photos follow below. Today Pope Francis departed on his three-day pilgrimage – the 16th foreign trip of his pontificate – to Georgia and Azerbaijan.  I’ll let you follow that on EWTN television and on our website.

This weekend I am going to do something I very rarely do in this great, historic and extremely beautiful country, namely, take a two-day weekend and travel to Florence with cousins visiting from Chicago, one of whom has never been to Italy so we are all thrilled to have this occasion.

I hope your weekend will be as special as ours will surely be and I’ll get back to you on Monday, as usual.


My guest this weekend on Vatican Insider is Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller of San Antonio. We spoke at the papal residence of Santa Marta during the days that he and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles were in Rome to present to various Vatican offices a program about, by and for Hispanic Americans in the Church called V Encuentro –the V Encounter. Abp. Gustavo is a dear friend – the oldest of 15 children, by the way! – and our conversation covered V Encuentro, migration, the US elections and much, much more including a few surprises.

I forgot to take photos that day but if you refer to my September 24 Facebook post, you will see the photos that Marthamaria Morales, in Rome with the two archbishops and their delegation, posted on her page that were later shared on mine.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives:


Yesterday, September 29, was a very special day for 29 young men from the United States and 1 from Australia, from the archdiocese of Melbourne, as they were ordained deacons at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston. These 30 future priests all study at the Pontifical North American College and represent 27 U.S. dioceses in addition to the one in Australia. In some cases the bishops of these dioceses were present.




After the diaconate ordination, NAC offers a reception for the young men and their family and friends who are in Rome for the occasion. It was a very big affair this year and, to be honest, I don’t recall such a large number of family and friends present for this beautiful day. And a beautiful day it was – very warm temperatures and clear, blue skies.



This has always been a special day for me personally as I have been a big fan and supporter of the North American College for years and know many faculty members and a number of the seminarians.


What is so lovely about this day is how prominent families are in this celebration, the families of the new deacons and the NAC family.




Strong, faith-filled families are almost always behind a vocation – families for whom the faith is important, including frequent, often daily, Mass, prayers at mealtimes, learning and passing on the faith and, most importantly on the role of parents who both accept and encourage a vocation to the priesthood.



Of the young men I have spoken to over the years, all indicated that their family life was behind their choice for the priesthood – prayer life, family rosary, Mass attendance, their parents as role models and the family support for the call to the priesthood.

With their time in Rome, the seminarians and deacons now have an extended family – the wonderful and supportive seminary family at the North American College and, in many ways, the family of the Universal Church in Rome.

At the reception with Auxiliary Bishop Rassas of Chicago and one of the very special families that Diane and I met that afternoon.


In addition to the 30 men ordained yesterday, a number of NAC seminarians were ordained in the U.S. in their home dioceses. All will be ordained to the priesthood at the end of their last year at NAC, returning to their home dioceses for priestly ordination.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Rome for the new deacons, for their families and for all of us because, after all, these young men our future pastors!