On Sunday, 3 March 2013, sixty-two seminarians of the Pontifical North American College were instituted to the ministry of acolyte during a celebration of the Eucharist. Paul Bechter and Emmett Hall of the Diocese of Dallas who are in their second year of theological studies, were among those seminarians instituted.
His Excellency, the Most Reverend Joseph A. Di Noia O.P. vice president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, celebrated the Mass and instituted the new acolytes. Among the concelebrants of the Mass were nine Cardinals from the United States, present in Rome for the forthcoming Conclave.
Handing to each seminarian the gold paten used in the celebration of the Eucharist, Archbishop Di Noia said, “Take this vessel of bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your lives worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.”
In his homily, Archbishop Di Noia explained that through their institution the Church has given the new acolytes the responsibility to assist priests and deacons in carrying out their ministry, and as special ministers to give Holy Communion to the faithful at Mass and to the sick.
Archbishop Di Noia exhorted the newly instituted acolytes to “strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be conformed ever more perfectly to Christ himself.” His Excellency encouraged the newly instituted acolytes to “strive to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Jesus Christ”.
These seminarians have now received both the ministry of lector and acolyte in anticipation of their diaconal, and then priestly, ordination. As the rite indicates, an acolyte is charged with assisting at the celebration of the Eucharist, purifying the sacred vessels and when needed to assist with the distribution of Holy Communion.
The Pontifical North American College, founded in 1859 by Blessed Pius IX, serves as the American house of studies in Rome; where over 5000 of priests have been formed near the heart of the Church for service in dioceses across North America and around the world. The College strengthens the bonds between Rome and local Churches worldwide, and it allows its students to study the Church’s rich religious and cultural heritage at close proximity.
Mr. Emmett Hall, Acolyte
Mr. Paul Bechter, Acolyte