17 years ago, on May 13, 2000, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I was ordained to the Order of Transitional Deacon. My parish pastor, Fr. John Parr, very generously gave me a print of Ford Madox Brown’s powerful painting, Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet, a gift I have treasured. The painting is based upon the Gospel of John, verses 13:1-15, when, Jesus,
“rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter,… Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
You can see in the background how the other disciples are horrified that Jesus would be washing feet, the chore of a servant. You can see the humility of Peter in his vulnerability of allowing His Lord to serve him in such a servile manner. And too, you can see the love of Jesus gently drying Peter’s foot as he teaches this most important of lessons, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28) Anyone who follows Jesus must do the same.
The artist captures so well the call to service in ministry. This issue of the Priest for Tomorrow Newsletter focuses on the call to serve through the transitional diaconate, the last order received before ordination to the priesthood. Read about our two newest transitional deacons, Kyle Laylan and Barry Saylor, who talk about their ministry of service. You will also learn about what service work our seminarians will be taking part in over the summer months.
Thank you for your financial support of our 29 seminarians, and please remember to keep them in your prayers.
Fr. Alan Wierzba
Director of the Office for Vocations