Transitional deacons ordained  

By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

St. Joseph Cathedral was dark and quiet, yet packed early with family and friends who prayed for Deacon Danny Roussel and Deacon Mathew Dunn before Bishop Michael G. Duca ordained them transitional deacons to the Diocese of Baton Rouge during a Mass June 8. Once the lights came on and the processional hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” signaled the start of Mass, the congregation’s internal prayers combusted into robust expressions of joy as the deacons started their final year of preparation before being ordained priests next year.  

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Bishop Michael G. Duca, center, ordained Deacon Danny Roussel, left, and Deacon Mathew Dunn as transitional deacons during a Mass June 8 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge. Photos by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator 


Joining Deacon Roussel and Deacon Dunn and Bishop Duca at the altar were Bishop Emeritus Robert W. Muench, priests and deacons and seminarians.  

After the introductory rites and liturgy of the word, Deacon David Dawson called the candidates, who were seated with their families, forward. Father Andrew Merrick, director of vocations, and Lisette Borné, associate director of vocations and seminarians, testified to their readiness for ordination. As Bishop Duca chose the candidates for the order of the diaconate, those present expressed their assent with an eruption of applause.  

During his homily Bishop Duca told the candidates, who were seated before him, that as deacons for the next year, they will deepen their knowledge about and experiences in sacrifice and service to the church.  

“It’s been a long journey and here now you’re on your final steps toward priesthood. But today this is not about priesthood. It is about that unique gift of holy orders to the church, the order of the diaconate,” said Bishop Duca.  

He said to Deacon Roussel and Deacon Dunn that being a transitional deacon is “not a stepping stone” but is part of the orders of ordination they will carry on with them and be part of who they are even when they become priests.  

“The sacrament of holy orders is founded on the firm foundation of the diaconate, the ministry of service, the ministry of charity,” said Bishop Duca. “It was the one order established by the apostles.”  

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Bishop Michael G. Duca talks about the service and sacrifice that are part of the diaconate during his homily.  


“They saw a need in the community. They were not able to handle all the needs of the widows and orphans and some of the administrative work that came with gathering the people together and community … So they needed more people to help equally distribute the goods and handle the personal needs and particular needs of widows and orphans … They did not have a social structure of support. It had to come from the community of faith, from the family. And so these men were chosen to be ministers of service.”  

The bishop emphasized that the diaconate is not a second-class ministry, pointing to the life of St. Stephen, who was a deacon and first martyr of the church when his powerful preaching upset the Jewish hierarchy. St. Stephen’s death by stoning mirrored Christ’s death on the cross when he said, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” noted Bishop Duca.  

“My brothers, that stands as the heart of your ministry as deacon, to be a man who hears Christ call to love one another,” said the bishop. “But you always have to add the last part – love one another as I have loved you. That is the power, the strength and the burden of your ministry. That you must be men of service, men who are close to your people. To prepare your sermons that you might truly change the hearts of men and women by your words. Words that you preach not from a book but from the experience you have of living that Gospel message yourself.”

Following his homily, Bishop Duca questioned the candidates about their willingness to embrace the office of deacon. The candidates then knelt before the bishop and promised respect and obedience to him and his successors.  

During the litany of supplication, Deacon Roussel and Deacon Dunn prostrated themselves before the altar as the assembly prayed through the intercession of the saints.  

The two men then knelt before Bishop Duca as he laid his hands on the their heads and prayed the prayer of ordination.  

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Deacon Danny Roussel and Deacon Mathew Dunn prostrate themselves before the altar during the litany of supplication.   


Next, Deacon Roussel was vested with stoles and dalmatic with the assistance of Deacon Ricky Oubre and Deacon Dunn was vested with assistance from Deacon Leon Murphy and Deacon Jimmy Little.  

Bishop Duca then gave the newly ordained deacons a fraternal kiss, after which Bishop Emeritus Muench and the deacons did the same. Deacon Roussel and Deacon Dunn then joined the celebrants at the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist. 

After the conclusion of Mass well wishers streamed out of the cathedral to congratulate the newly ordained deacons. 

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Father Paul Counce, pastor of St. Joseph Cathedral, puts the consecrated hosts in the tabernacle.