New Jesuit Deacons

While a certain number of Jesuits are “brothers”, men who choose religious life without engaging in priestly ministry, the vast majority of Jesuits in formation are preparing to become priests in the Society of Jesus. However, before being ordained a priest, each one is first ordained a deacon. The time spent as a deacon is often relatively short, a year, a year and a half in most cases. So what importance, or even meaning, does this step have, given that the young Jesuit is more focused on the important moment that concludes a large part of his formation: the day of his ordination to the priesthood?

While for some decades now priestly ordinations have taken place in the new priest’s home town - or at least in his own country - the same cannot be said for ordination to the diaconate. It is usually in the city where the scholastic is studying theology that he is ordained to the diaconate. Each year, the Society’s theological centres organise a celebration of diaconal ordinations. As these institutions become increasingly international in the composition of their student body, this provides an opportunity to emphasize the international character of the Society as a whole.


For example, recently, on 20th April, 17 young Jesuits studying theology at the Facultés Loyola Paris (the new name of the Centre Sèvres) were ordained deacons. Among them were three French companions (from the French-speaking Western Europe Province), six companions from India (from the Provinces of Chennai, Ranchi, Andhra, Patna and Hazaribagh), five companions from the United States (from the Eastern, South Central and Western Provinces), one Egyptian (from the Near East Province), one Cameroonian (from the West Africa Province) and one Haitian (from the Canada Province).

Also in April, diaconal ordinations took place in the Church of the Gesù, in Rome, for theology students from the Gregorian University; according to tradition, this was on Easter Tuesday. Depending on the academic calendar here and there in the world, new Jesuit deacons are ordained at different times. Without attempting to give an exhaustive list, this year new deacons were ordained on 10th February in Delhi and Madrid, on 2nd March in Pune (India), on 9th March in Warsaw and on 21st March in Tokyo. In Abidjan (Ivory Coast), at the ITCJ (Institute of Theology of the Society of Jesus), 15 Jesuits were ordained deacons. In Latin America, these ordinations tend to take place towards the end of the year, for example on 11th November in Bogotá (Colombia) and on 2nd December in Belo Horizonte (Brazil). We could also mention the ordinations on 21st October in Oakland (California, USA), on 23rd September in Chestnut Hill (Massachusetts, USA) and the one that will take place on 24th May in Toronto (Canada).

Let’s come back to the main question: what meaning do these young men give to this “transitional” ordination, which is a milestone on the road to the priesthood? We’ve collected a few testimonies. Today, the story of Sunny Costa, from Bangladesh, ordained deacon in Rome, followed by that of Bùi Huy Đąt, a Vietnamese ordained in Ho Chi Minh City. In a forthcoming article, we’ll be hearing from a Mexican and a Haitian.


Sunny Costa, SJ.

Sunny Costa, SJ

I am from Bangladesh and I was ordained a Jesuit deacon in Rome... For me the diaconate is a time to be filled by the grace of God, and humbly prepare to be ordained a priest in the Society with the same spirit and zeal that St Ignatius and his first companions had to ‘ever to love and to serve’ Him alone. It is to recognize God’s grace, to respond and surrender to His call fully.

Entering the novitiate in 2009 after being a candidate for three years already, going through every stage of formation, this final stage before the ordination to priesthood is for me a concrete platform to say a full-fledged ‘YES’ to God and to render my humble and faithful service to Him, to His Church and to His people. With the experience of the diaconate, I feel that there is an ontological change in me that makes me more responsible in my call and journey as a Jesuit. It brings me so much joy and consolation in my heart every time I come to the altar of the Lord and participate in the Holy Eucharist. All these experiences remind me constantly of who I am called to be: a ‘companion of Jesus’ following the footsteps of our dear father Ignatius ‘for the greater glory of God’.


Joseph Bùi Huy Đąt, SJ.

Joseph Bùi Huy Đąt, SJ

“Follow me!” (John 21:19) This is the Gospel verse we, the new Vietnamese deacons, have chosen to express our sentiments on the day of our diaconate ordination. It is also the call that I experienced during the retreat week before the ordination. At this stage, I experience it as a time of immense grace and joy. It allows me to delve deeper into my vocation. I understand myself more as a sinner loved, forgiven, and called by Jesus to be his companion. With this special grace, I feel happy! I am grateful to the Society of Jesus for welcoming, accepting, and nurturing my Jesuit vocation.

As a deacon, I can proclaim the Word of God and offer prayers to God on behalf of the community. Participating in this mission of Christ brings me immense joy. Another aspect is the opportunity to give the homily during mass to the liturgical community, an experience that has touched and transformed my heart. This task reinforces in me the need to focus on my relationship with God in prayer. I realise I need to be more serious and careful when preparing for the homily so that I may effectively guide the community and assist the faithful in discerning God’s will. As a transitional deacon, I believe this stage is a joyful part of my vocational journey with Jesus.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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