Biddeford native Alex Boucher, a seminarian of the Diocese of Portland, was instituted into the ministry of lector during a Mass celebrated at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts, on Sunday, April 8. Being instituted as a lector is one of the key step towards priestly ordination, most often occurring during a seminarian’s second year of theological study, as was the case with Boucher.
Lectors proclaim the readings from sacred Scripture, with the exception of the Gospel. While readers at Mass are sometimes referred to as lectors, those formally instituted into the ministry of lector are called to a deeper relationship with the Word of God and a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, so that they may more fully share the good news with those around them.
“As my time in seminary formation continues, I am grateful to God for the many graces and blessings he has bestowed on me. I am particularly grateful to have been instituted into the ministry of lector alongside my seminary classmates -- the men that I pray, study, and live alongside with each day. Being instituted as lectors is our first official public ministry on our path to the priesthood. God willing, this will be followed by being instituted as acolytes later this year and, eventually, ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood in the years to come,” Boucher said. “We have been called to deepen our encounter with the Word of God and to draw nearer to the Lord in our study of sacred Scripture, which will enable us to proclaim the word with greater conviction.”
Boucher was among 11 seminarians instituted as lectors at Saint John’s Seminary. The others are from the Archdiocese of Boston and the dioceses of Fall River and Springfield, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; and Rochester, New York. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester, celebrated the Mass.
“Jesus Christ made all things known to us and then entrusted his Church with the mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world,” he told the candidates. “As lectors and bearers of God’s word, you will assist in this mission and so take on a special office within the Christian community; you will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God. You will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it.”
During the Mass, Bishop Matano presented each of the new lectors with a Bible, telling them, “Take this book of holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of his people.”
Boucher is completing his fourth year of study at St. John’s Seminary, two in pre-theology, followed by two in theology. Over the summer, he will continue his preparation for the priesthood by attending the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, before returning to the seminary in the fall.
Prior to his seminary studies, Boucher earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Theology & Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He is also an alumnus of Cheverus High School in Portland and St. James School in Biddeford.
The ministry of lector is among four milestones a seminarian will reach prior to priestly ordination, beginning with the Rite of Candidacy, during which he openly expresses his desire to be accepted as a candidate for the priesthood. That is followed by the ministry of lector, focused on preaching the word of God, and institution to the ministry of acolyte, which is centered on service at the altar. After continued discernment, a seminarian will then be ordained to the transitional diaconate, most often a year before his anticipated ordination to the priesthood. Along with the presbyterate and the episcopate (priests and bishops), the diaconate is one of three degrees of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church.
Top: Alex Boucher is presented with a Bible from Bishop Salvatore R. Matano
Middle: Alex Boucher (left) with Bishop Salvatore R. Matano and Monsignor James P. Moroney, rector of Saint John’s Seminary
Bottom: Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, Msgr. James P. Moroney, and the 11 new lectors