Bishop Robert Deeley Ordains Matthew Valles to the Transitional Diaconate

Matthew Valles said it’s hard to find the right words to describe what it was like to be ordained a deacon of the Catholic Church.

“I’m so happy, so happy, so happy. I’m very, very grateful to be ordained. I can’t really describe it in words,” he said.

Valles was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert Deeley at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland on Sunday, January 7, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

“Today, in this ordination, we call Matthew from the community. We are grateful that he looked to the star and dared to follow it, seeking God’s will for him. In God’s good grace, with the ordination today, his ministry will be to take that word of God and help the community to live it,” the bishop said. “His ministry will encourage the community to pray and know God’s love and to live it out in their dealings with each other.”

The bishop said the Epiphany of the Lord, which celebrates the arrival of the Magi at the manger and the revelation of Christ to the world, is a beautiful feast on which to hold the ordination Mass because a vocation is a gift.

“It is a gift of God, and it is a gift accepted by the one who receives it. It becomes, then, his gift to the Church as he lives the gift he has received in his service in ministry. We are happy to have this opportunity to celebrate this occasion as a fitting part of our season of Christmas, our season of gift,” the bishop said.

Transitional deacons are men who are in formation for the priesthood and who will likely be ordained priests within the coming year. Nonetheless, ordination to the diaconate is a life-changing experience.

“The diaconate is about being conformed to Christ the servant. It’s being ordained to serve as Christ does, and it is at the foundation of the priesthood, so it is an important time,” Deacon Valles said.

The diaconate dates back to early days of the Church, when the apostles, overwhelmed by the demands on them, turned to reputable members of the community for help. A deacon’s ministry includes assisting the bishop and priests at the altar, preaching the word of God, and the ministry of charity.

“As ministers, we call people to know of God’s love, not only by proclaiming the word and preaching but also by the ways in which we serve them and thus help them to deal with the questions and difficulties of their lives. Thus, we are reminded that charity and the proclamation of faith go hand in hand. Both are instruments of evangelization, of leading others to Jesus Christ. We entrust this ministry of word and charity today to Matthew,” the bishop said.

During the Rite of Ordination, Valles stood before the bishop, resolving to be consecrated for the ministry of the Church, to discharge with humble charity the Office of the Diaconate, to proclaim the faith with word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church’s tradition, to be committed to the state of celibacy as a sign of the dedication of his life to Christ, to increase the spirit of prayer in his life, and to conform his manner of life to the example of Christ.

After promising respect and obedience to the bishop and his successors, Valles then lied prostrate while the Litany of the Saints was sung, a plea for God’s mercy and for the intercessory prayers of saints.

“I was thinking of the saints and their different stories as they were coming up and how I have a relationship with them. I felt very much loved by them and loved by the people in the community, especially in that moment,” said Deacon Valles. “It was very moving.”

Valles then knelt before the bishop who laid hands on him and prayed the Prayer of Ordination, asking God to send forth the Holy Spirit upon Valles "that he may be strengthened by the gift of your sevenfold grace to carry out faithfully the work of the ministry."

Deacon Valles described the moment as very powerful.

“That was very emotional for me,” he said. “His hands were on my head. and then he offered a prayer over me, the Prayer of Ordination, and that was very beautiful. I had seen it in Catholic art before, and to experience it was very moving,” Deacon Valles said.

Now ordained, Deacon Valles was vested with the stole and dalmatic, symbols of the diaconate, by Msgr. Andrew Dubois, director of the Office of Seminarians. Deacon Valles then knelt again before the bishop, who presented him with the Book of the Gospels with the words "Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."

“An important part of the ministry of the deacon is preaching. Matthew’s task will be to help to bring the Gospel into the lives of those he serves,” the bishop explained in his homily.

The ordination rite concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace from the bishop and from the other deacons present.

Despite snow piling up outside, more than 150 people attended the ordination Mass, including Deacon Valles’ parents, fellow seminarians, and several priests, including two who drove from Massachusetts in the storm to be there. Deacon Valles studied theology at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., and prior to his priestly ordination, he will serve as a deacon at St. Columbkille Church in Brighton.

Deacon Valles said that as a deacon, he is most looking forward to being able to baptize and to preach the Gospel message.

“It’s definitely preaching with humility and faith and charity, interpreting the word of God for the people in such a way that they can take it with them and try to share it with everyone they meet,” he said.

Born in Oregon, Deacon Valles was raised in Barrington, Rhode Island, before moving to Maine to attend college. He received a bachelor’s degree in science from Bates College in Lewiston and then a master’s degree in physics from the University of Maine at Orono.

He said in his first years of college, he was not active in his faith, but that changed after being paired with two students who were practicing Catholics while participating in an engineering internship at Northeastern University in Boston. Once he started to attend Mass again, he said his connection to the faith grew, and he began to feel a call to the priesthood.

At the University of Maine, he was active in campus ministry, participating in Bible studies and eucharistic adoration, embracing the sacrament of reconciliation, and learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayer of the Church. It led him to apply to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Portland. He entered St. John’s Seminary in 2017.

Opening procession
Matthew Valles stands beside his parents at the beginning of the Mass
Deacon Peter Bernier shares the Gospel reading.
Msgr. Andrew Dubois
Matthew Valles declares his readiness for ordination.
Bishop Robert Deeley delivers his homily.
Matthew Valles listens to the homily.
Matthew Valles promises obedience to the bishop and his successors.
Matthew Valles promises obedience to the bishop and his successors.
Lying prostrate while the Litany of Saints is sung.
Lying prostrate while the Litany of Saints is sung.
The bishop lays hands on Matthew Valles.
Praying the Prayer of Ordination
Vesting of Deacon Matthew Valles
Bishop Deeley presents Deacon Valles with the Book of the Gospels.
Deacon Luis Sanclemente gives Deacon Matthew Valles the fraternal kiss of peace (a hug)
Deacon Matthew Valles sitting beside Bishop Robert Deeley
Deacon Matthew Valles assists Bishop Deeley at the altar.
Liturgy of the Eucharist