On 2 June 2019 Michael Shami of the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon was elevated from subdeacon to deacon in the North American College Chapel of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Elias Zaidan. Father John Paul Kimes and Father Christopher Fabre, assisted Bishop Elias. Father Aaron Sandbothe, directed the choir of seminarians. Deacon Michael’s parents, friends from the United States, and classmates from Rome attended the pontifical liturgy.
Like so many of the other Maronite liturgies, the Ordination rite is both beautiful worship to God and catechetical instruction to the congregation. The liturgy began with the ancient Syriac chant To Bashlom, or Come in Peace, where those gathered welcome the bishop with incense at the doors of the church. The ordination liturgy than continued like all the other Maronite Qurboneuntil the reception of communion.
After all those who outranked the candidate for ordination, who was a subdeacon at the time, were communed, the ordination began before the Eucharist placed on the altar. Fr. Cyril Pinchak SJ, a classmate of Deacon Michael at the Pontfical Oriental Institute, presented Subdeacon Michael to Bishop Elias for ordination. Bishop Elias invoked the Holy Spirit to descend upon the Deacon and elevate him to the Order through His descent through the prayer of Divine Grace. Next, the Bishop placed one hand on the Eucharist and the other on the Deacon to mediate the grace of Christ to the candidate. Lastly, the Bishop pulled his cope over the Deacon’s head to show that he adopts the new Deacon to share in part of his ministry. Once the new Deacon was vested, the Bishop entrusted him with the Book of Pauline Epistles, the censer and the anaphoral veil, each time led by his sponsor and proving to the Bishop he was able to perform the tasks given to him by ordination.
Bishop Elias admonished the new deacon during his homily to have patience, perseverance and courage as necessary traits of pastoral ministry, and expressed his eagerness for Deacon Michael’s ordination to the Order of Priests in the following year. As Bishop Elias solemnly concluded in the Final Exhortation, “Behold, my son: today you are standing before our humble person, but tomorrow you shall stand before the awesome throne of Christ. You shall then account for all that you did before him.”With this, Bishop Elias reminded the new Deacon that he now serves God before the holy altar.