May 1, 2017
KELLER — Jonathan Demma and Maurice Moon began the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate with their families in the comfort and anonymity of the pews. During the Mass, they rose to answer God’s call to follow Him and serve his people, and the two freshly ordained deacons ultimately joined Bishop Michael Olson at the altar to assist in giving Holy Communion to the people.
The two seminarians were ordained as transitional deacons on April 29 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Keller, the home parish for Deacon Demma.
Deacon Moon reflected on the symbolism, “We’re being called onto the altar of God. We’re taken from among our families, from the people of God, to serve at the altar. So in a sense, we’re called, lifted up, ascending to the altar of God, and helping others to ascend [to] the altar as well.”
Seminarians are ordained as transitional deacons in their last year of formation before entering the priesthood.
The second reading described the origin of deacons, who are ministers of service to the poor and marginalized, like the Greek widows in the sixth chapter of Acts. Deacons are also ministers of the Word, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, baptizing, witnessing marriages, and conducting funerals.
Bishop Olson said that the ordination is “a sign that the diocese is alive and growing. [It’s] a kind of hope because through the grace of this ordination, others hear their vocation and are able to answer it with courage and decisiveness. It means better care for the poor and more attentive preaching and the administration of the sacraments.”
The new deacons will complete their theology studies at the National Seminary of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., next year. However, in their younger years, they both considered themselves unlikely candidates for seminary.
When Demma enrolled at Texas A&M University, priesthood was not in the equation. Always good at math and science and fascinated by how things work, he planned to become an electrical engineer. But a conversion experience at the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, brought him back to practicing his Catholic faith.
Later, when he was just three semesters from graduating, Demma sat in his circuit theory class and knew he had to leave. Immediately.
A few months earlier, while attending the ordination of a priest, Demma heard God say, “This is what I want you to do.” Demma remembered, “It hit me. Loud.”
|Newly-ordained Deacon Jonathan Demma processes out after the ordination Mass that took place April 29 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller. (NTC photo/Juan Guajardo)|
Demma left the class and moved to New York City, joining the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Working with the poor and homeless as an itinerant preacher taught him that “compassion and love can change a person’s world.” He remained with the Franciscans for nine years, during which time he completed his philosophy studies at Seton Hall University.
A desire to have a parish and walk with families through the sacraments led Demma back to the Diocese of Fort Worth to become a diocesan priest.
Dcn. Demma said that his best year of seminary was his pastoral internship with Father Jack McKone at Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls. “Everything I had discerned, I experienced as true,” the 36-year-old recalled. “Sacred Heart was so warm and welcoming. I felt affirmed in my vocation.”
“God is boring. Mass is boring. I don’t need all that,” thought the teenage Moon, a parishioner at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Arlington, then St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Lewisville. “I thought a beautiful woman or money would make me happy.”
After high school, he took college classes, worked in the food service industry, and realized that even with a girlfriend and a paycheck, he still felt empty. “I realized that life was bigger than I thought. God is real, God loves me, and God has a purpose for me,” said Moon, who grew up dreaming of a professional career in baseball or soccer.
|Newly-ordained Deacon Maurice Moon is congratulated by several permanent deacons during the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate. Hundreds of faithful from across the diocese came together to witness the ordination April 29. (NTC photo/Juan Guajardo)
After being away from the Church and the sacraments for a few years, he began praying. His aunt gave him a copy of Catholicism for Dummies. “I read it in one day. It covered all the basics, and it blew me away,” he recalled.
With his faith rekindled, he headed for confession. “It changed everything. I felt peace, joy, and forgiveness for my sins,” he said. He began going to Mass and Eucharistic Adoration frequently, and sensed that, “God is calling me to lay down my life for other people.”
Moon responded to God’s summons, completing his undergraduate degree in philosophy at St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana. His first summer assignment — at St. Peter Parish in Lindsay with Father Raymond McDaniel — showed him the reciprocal love and support that results from serving God’s people.
Receiving Holy Orders
Dcn. Demma said that before the ordination began, “I was up and down with the emotions of excitement and nerves and everything else. When the (church) doors opened and I heard the music, I remembered the disciples being in the upper room and I just heard Jesus saying, ‘Peace be with you,’ and the nerves all went away. The excitement from that point on, I couldn’t even describe it.”
Laying prostrate during the Litany of the Saints was the most significant moment for Dcn. Demma. “When I lay down during the Litany of the Saints, I felt like I stood up a new man. It was really incredible. I could feel the grace. I was thinking about the larger Church. I was thinking about all those names of people.”
The new deacons also made promises of celibacy and obedience to the bishop, who then laid his hands on their heads and said the prayer of consecration. After the investiture with the stole and dalmatic and the handing on of the Book of Gospels, Dcn. Demma and Dcn. Moon were welcomed into the Order of Deacons with warm embraces by the other deacons in attendance.
The new deacons began their ministries with a visit to their home parishes that weekend to proclaim the Gospel. Both deacons will spend the summer helping with youth retreats and conferences, with Dcn. Demma based at St. Jude Parish in Mansfield and Dcn. Moon at St. Mary Parish in Gainesville.
Both seminarians expressed their gratitude to the people of the diocese for their years of support, love, and prayers.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy and with gratitude for what God has done in my life and Him calling me to serve the people of God in this capacity,” Dcn. Moon said. “I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who showed up to support me as well. I’m looking forward to going to work and exhausting myself for the sake of Christ, for the sake of others.”
KELLER — Jonathan Demma and Maurice Moon began the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate with their families in the comfort and anonymity of the pews.