Three men in formation to be permanent deacons for the Diocese of Grand Rapids were instituted in the ministry of acolyte by Bishop David Walkowiak on June 25 at 7 p.m. at the Shrine of St. Francis and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Grand Rapids.

The ministry of acolyte is the final step before ordination to Holy Orders. Their ministry as acolytes includes assisting the priest and deacon at the altar during Mass. They also will serve during liturgies, distribute holy Communion and purify sacred vessels.

The three men are: Christian Cifuentes, Juan Carlos Perez Bedolla, and Matthew Schmitz.

This group of men were admitted to candidacy for the diaconate, the first formal step toward becoming permanent deacons, on Jan. 24, 2023. They received the rite of lector in October 2023. 

Known as the Nicholas class, this is the third group of men in formation for the diaconate for the diocese since the deacon formation program was reinstated by Bishop Walkowiak. The seven men from the first group, known as the Timon class, were ordained permanent deacons on Jan. 8, 2022, and the second group of nine men from the Parmenas class were ordained deacons on Jan. 13, 2024.

Deacons are one of three major orders of the sacrament of holy orders, the others are priests and bishops. Deacons may officiate at baptisms, weddings and funerals, read the Gospel and preach at Mass, and help with the canonical process for marriage and baptism, but one of their greatest priorities is service to the poor and marginalized. The wives of the deacon candidates are an integral part of the diaconate program. They support their husbands through prayer, sacrifice, and by assuming added duties of home and family.

Click here to learn more about the permanent diaconate program in our diocese.

Attend the next “Discerning the Diaconate” gathering

Join Deacon Jerry Roersma, director of diaconate formation, for fellowship, prayer and inquiry.

Dates: Sept. 9 and Dec. 2, 2024
Location: Cathedral Square Center, 360 Division Ave. S, Grand Rapids

For more information, email, or call Pattie Reynolds in the diaconate formation office, 616-288-0910.