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Bishop Deeley Celebrates Rite of Candidacy for Four Diocese of Portland on December 11

PORTLAND---“In response to the Lord’s call, do you resolve to complete your preparation so that in due time through Holy Orders you will be prepared to assume ministry within the Church?” asked Bishop Robert Deeley.

“I do,” responded the aspirants in unison.

“Do you resolve to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body, the Church?” asked the bishop.

“I do.”

The solemn, yet joyful moments, on Friday evening, December 11, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception marked the open declaration of four seminarians of the Diocese of Portland to complete their preparation for the priesthood. The Mass for the Rite of Candidacy, celebrated by Bishop Deeley, offered the opportunity for a small number of congregants and a large audience of participants on livestream to pray with and for seminarians Matthew Valles, Erin Donlon, Hoa Nguyen, and Thanh Pham.

“Matt Valles is the senior of our seminarians. He is in second theology. His candidacy was scheduled for last April. It got cancelled with all the other things from last spring. Our other seminarians are all in first theology. They have already spent some time in discernment and preparation for priesthood. Each of them has spent two years in pre-theology formation. It is a blessing for our diocese that these four men are asking to be incardinated into the priesthood of this Diocese of Portland for the service of the people here,” said Bishop Deeley during the homily.

The bishop noted that the technology, further developed as a result of the pandemic, enabled the families of Hoa and Thanh to join in the rejoicing.

“They have come from Vietnam and, with missionary hearts, have asked to serve the faithful in our diocese,” said the bishop. “What a joy it is to be able this evening to share this ceremony with their families and friends in Vietnam through our livestream. We welcome them and thank them for sharing their sons and brothers with us here in Maine. We ask that you keep them in your prayers and continue to support them in their choice to pursue this vocation here in America.”

As the bishop said, Matthew is in his second year of theological studies at Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton, Massachusetts; Erin, who is in his first year of theological study at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is originally from Good Shepherd Parish in Saco; and Hoa and Thanh are in their first year of theological study, also at Mount St. Mary’s. To read more about the individual backgrounds and vocation stories of all four men, click here.

During Friday’s Mass, Bishop Deeley also expressed his gratitude for the community of the Church that offers support as others seek to know God’s will for them in their lives.

“These men have been accompanied by loving families and parish and school communities which have helped them to begin to listen to God’s call to them,” said the bishop. “Then they were accompanied by vocation directors and formation advisors in the diocese and faculties in their seminaries. For each of these men, the vocation story became more evident to them and the Church over time. Compelled by the love of Christ and strengthened by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, they have arrived at the moment when they express openly their desire to be bound in Holy Orders for the service of God and humankind.”

And the Church is happy to be the recipient of that desire, and acknowledges it with great joy.

“In your kindness, Lord, grant that your servants may understand and live more fully each day the mystery of your love,” prayed Bishop Deeley. “May they prepare themselves with a willing heart to exercise sacred ministry in the Church. Filled with the spirit of your charity, may they freely devote themselves to the salvation of their brothers and sisters for the glory of your name.”

For more information about the Office of Vocations, the history of the priesthood and religious life in the Diocese of Portland, and many other resources, click here.