Last Saturday evening, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Robert E. Gugliemone, the Bishop of Charleston, presided at a Solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s during which our own Michael Younginer was formally instituted into the ministry of acolyte. It was wonderful seeing Michael’s face radiate joy as he knelt before the Bishop to symbolically hold the paten and host that would later be used in the Mass.
As information, acolytes assist the priest or bishop at the altar. This ministry was previously considered a minor order for those preparing for ordination to the priesthood. When the Second Vatican Council reinstituted the Permanent Diaconate, minor orders were suppressed and were replaced by the ministries of acolyte and lector. While some dioceses institute laity to these ministries, they are more typically steps for those being prepared for Holy Orders.
I believe that all seventy men and their families who received either the ministry of acolyte or lector on Saturday evening were touched by their experience. I felt a bit of “fatherly” pride in our musicians under Mr. Mark Husey’s direction as well as in our Altar Servers who provided flawless ministry guided by the Bishop’s Master of Ceremonies, Father Babick. Indeed, many personally thanked me on your behalf for our willingness to support the Diocese’s Permanent Diaconate Formation Program which meets at Saint Peter’s one weekend each month. In this way, we support the greater life of the Church and foster good will among Catholic clergy throughout the state!
Speaking of deacons, I’ve thrilled to tell you that Bishop Gugliemone has appointed Deacon Gabriel Cuervo to Saint Peter’s. Deacon Gabriel comes to us from the largest Parish in the Diocese, Saint Mary Magdalene, where he was the only deacon assigned. He recently relocated to Columbia to serve as Associate Director of Catholic Charities. A native of Colombia, South America, Deacon Gabriel is bilingual. While he’ll primarily assist me in our ministry to Hispanic parishioners, I hope, from time to time, to see him in other venues. I have every expectation that he will be a great blessing to all we serve!
I’m happy to observe that our Sunday morning Masses are growing nicely. It seems that the 9:00 a.m. Mass is the preferred choice for young families and the 11:00 a.m. for younger and often, single adults. I’ve been particularly pleased to see so many parents with young children, often under the age of three. Their presence is a sign of vitality, life and hope.
Student participation in CCD has also increased by 28 over last year to 235 and will likely continue to grow. And, our enrollment at Saint Peter’s Parochial School is now 132, an increase of 22 students over last year. Plus we’ve established a Young Adult Ministry that is already reaching over 30 singles in their 20’s and 30’s from Saint Peter’s and nearly all the parishes in Columbia.
Hopefully, we’ll have soon have news of activities for our Engaged and Newly Married couples as well.
The next “Community” within the parish I seek to engage are men who may wish to join me for prayer beginning at 6:3AM on Wednesday’s in our Conference Room beginning on October 8th. I envision this as an opportunity to discuss areas of faith and spirituality that are of particular interest to men as well practicing, together, prayer both communal and extemporaneous. I want to encourage and help men to be comfortable praying by themselves and with others and to be able to lead their families in prayer. Believe me, I would find it far easier to be home drinking coffee at that time of the morning, but realize that work, family and other commitments make evenings and weekends almost impossible for most…hence, the choice of time. If you’re over 18 and wanting to make prayer and fellowship with other men in the Parish a greater part of your life, I hope you’ll join me.
I believe that providing reverent and relevant celebrations of the Mass as well as opportunities that encourage on-going faith formation and service to others will help Saint Peter’s flourish. To this end, I pray you’ll support our growing parish life by giving back in accordance with God’s blessings and through your own joyous participation!
Fr. Gary S. Linsky
The Very Rev. Gary S. Linsky, V.F.