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Melkite Church ordains local, married deacon a priest

Posted By June 16, 2017 | 10:40 am | Featured Article #3
Deacons Elias (Richard) Bailey and John Moses present Deacon Dennis McCarthy for ordination to Bishop Nicholas Samra.

Photo by Eric Ewanco
Deacons Elias (Richard) Bailey and John Moses present Deacon Dennis McCarthy for ordination to Bishop Nicholas Samra. Photo by Eric Ewanco

By Susan Bailey
Correspondent, The Catholic Free Press
“Axios! He is worthy!”
So proclaimed the congregation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish on Hamilton Street in Worcester upon the ordination of longtime deacon Dennis McCarthy to the priesthood on Saturday.
Bishop Nicholas Samra of the Melkite Eparchy of Newton, along with Father Paul Frechette, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and Father Edward Kakaty, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Waterford, Conn., presided at the Divine Liturgy. Father McCarthy had served as deacon under both Father Kakaty and Father Frechette. Saturday’s two-hour liturgy was the final time he served as a deacon.
After the homily, Deacons Elias (Richard) Bailey (with whom he had served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help) and John Moses presented him to the bishop. He circled the holy table three times, kissing each corner as hymns were sung describing the priest’s mission to preach the Good News, witness to Christ as did the holy martyrs, and put on the flesh of Christ as did the Virgin Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.

Father Dennis McCarthy, fully vested as a priest, is presented to the people by Bishop Nicholas Samra.  Photo by Eric Ewanco

Father Dennis McCarthy, fully vested as a priest, is presented to the people by Bishop Nicholas Samra.
Photo by Eric Ewanco

He then was prayed over by Bishop Samra and ordained a priest, afterwards being vested in his priestly robes by the deacons. Father McCarthy was then presented with a special cloth depicting the Body of Christ known as the “antimension.”
“You can lay the antimension on any table anywhere and celebrate the liturgy in an emergency situation,” Father McCarthy explained. “Most of the time you keep it at the parish. Sometimes priests have a duplicate one if they are traveling and they come up against an emergency where they would want to celebrate a liturgy.”
Several clergy were in attendance including 11 deacon candidates currently taking courses at Anna Maria College in Paxton.
Father McCarthy and his wife Lisa have been married for 31 years. He is the 10th married priest to be ordained since Bishop Samra’s installation as eparchial bishop in 2011.  The Vatican rescinded the ban on married priests in the Eastern Catholic Church in 2014.
Father McCarthy recalled the exchange of his deacon vestments for priestly ones as a bittersweet moment.
“It’s a very humbling experience because you know when you’re doing that, you’re going to be a priest. As much as you prepare for it, you’re never really prepared for it. It’s an awesome feeling to be there, I was very moved by it.”
When presented with the Eucharist by the bishop, Father McCarthy said he was given a simple exhortation by the bishop. “The words Bishop spoke to me, essentially, were ‘Take this and keep it safe because Christ is going to hold you accountable for that.’ It’s very profound when you realize the seriousness of the ordination. You don’t technically take vows like in a religious community but at that moment when he says, ‘Take this,’ you’re going to be accountable for how you live your life, which we all are, but also how you sustain the Church of Jesus Christ.”
At a luncheon following the liturgy the parishioners of Our Lady of Perpetual Help where he had served since 2004, wished him well, offering their love and their prayers. Several people from St. Ann’s in Waterbury also attended.
Father McCarthy will be serving at St. Ann’s, which is the parish where he first encountered the Melkite Church and the place where he discovered his vocation, he said.