By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

Deacon Mathew Dunn remembers vividly attending Saturday vigil Mass at Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Gramercy with his grandparents and his grandmother making sure he could stand on the pew or the kneeler in order to see the priest. He was five-years-old at the time but Deacon Dunn connected with what was taking place at the altar.  

 

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Deacon Dunn embraces his mother Gina Dunn. Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator

 

“I didn’t know what a priest was back then but I could always kind of see myself in his shoes and doing what he was doing,” said Deacon Dunn, now a 24-year-old seminarian who was ordained a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Baton Rouge June 8 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge.  

As the years passed, Deacon Dunn, who grew up in French Settlement, admitted he “kind of fell away” from the idea of priesthood, until he became more active in his church during his teen years. At St. Joseph Church in French Settlement, Deacon Dunn was a member of the youth group, a lector and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. Then, his path became a little clearer when he attended his first diocesan youth conference at the Catholic Life Center in Baton Rouge at the age of 14.  

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Deacon James Little, left, embraces Deacon Mathew Dunn after assisting Deacon Dunn in being vested with a stole and dalmatic. Bishop Michael G. Duca ordained Deacon Dunn and Deacon Danny Roussel as transitional deacons for the Diocese of Baton Rouge on June 8.  

 

“There was a workshop for guys my age to go and meet seminarians of the diocese and they gave us a look into the day in the life of seminary,” recalled Deacon Dunn. “It was really the moment for me to see that seminarians were real people that they weren’t just, you know, you think of a monk in a dark hallway with candles praying all the time wearing robes and that type of thing. But it wasn’t that. It was seminarians, who were real people, who cut up and had a good time and made friends. And you know it was the first time the priesthood really appealed to me.”  

After graduating from French Settlement High School, Deacon Dunn entered St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict. He graduated from St. Joseph in 2016 and is about to begin his fourth year at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. His first assignment will be at St. Patrick Church in Baton Rouge where he will serve until October with pastor Father Michael Miceli and Deacon Peter Walsh.  

“I think that these next five months are going to give me a gigantic window into my own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s really going to be a time of me developing my own identity as a member of the church as an ordained man, as Deacon Mathew,” he said. “And, I think that it’s just going to be a time for me to get used to that role and that title in my identity of being a deacon.”  

Having prepared for this moment for the past seven years, Deacon Dunn said now that it’s here, “it’s surreal – I’m very excited.” Text messages of support and love from family and friends leading up to June 8 also contributed to the exhilarating atmosphere.  

“I am a little nervous just because it’s such a big step in my life,” said Deacon Dunn. “I mean this is one of the most important milestones that will ever happen for me. And that’s kind of daunting in some sense when you realize the weight of what’s about to happen. But at the same time, this is something I was prepared for, in a sense, my whole life but especially that past seven years. I couldn’t be happier and really, I’m ready.”  

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Deacon Dunn incenses the congregation.