Symmes to be ordained transitional deacon, May 7
BY TERRY DICKSON
NEW ORLEANS – Bishop Roger Morin will ordain Colten Symmes to the transitional diaconate on May 7 at 10 am at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral.
A transitional deacon is one who desires to ultimately be called to the priesthood. At the diaconate ordination he commits himself to a celibate life and the daily recitation of the Divine Office. As a transitional deacon, he may baptize solemnly, distribute Holy Communion, preach during the liturgy and witness marriages.
Ordained for service of charity and the proclamation of the Word, deacons continue the ministry of Christ the Servant. As part of their formation for priesthood, all candidates must first be ordained to the diaconate. This formation process helps remind the men that all priests are servants first.
The 25 year-old Gulfport native said he is excited about his upcoming ordination.
“When you discern God’s will over five years during your time in the seminary – a period of really intense discernment – and you come to that conclusion that this what God is calling you to and that moment is slowly approaching, I think the main thing you feel is excitement,” said Symmes, during a recent interview at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, where he is currently a third year theology student.
“There is a level of nervousness about what it’ll be like to be in a parish as a deacon and, beyond that, what life is going to be like as a parish priest. So, there’s some nervousness, some anxiety as to what the future may hold, but excitement trumps it all. We’ll just see what the Lord has planned.”
Following his ordination, Symmes, will be assigned to a five-month supervised parish internship. Upon completion of his internship, he will return to the seminary in the fall for a mini-semester followed by a spring semester. He will be ordained to the priesthood in summer 2017.
Symmes is one of 122 men studying at Notre Dame Seminary. Of those 122 men, he and Braxton Necaise are the only two seminarians who are studying for the Diocese of Biloxi.
“Being here at Notre Dame has just been a very powerful, profound experience in every aspect,” he said.
“We have a chapel in our house and I have the opportunity to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament every day. There’s just this deep immersion that you can have in your spiritual life here at the seminary. It’s, in a sense, why seminaries exist – so you can have that time for prayer and discernment.
“There’s also the educational aspect where one learns about the faith in this intense mode. It’s very, very exciting. It’s very life-giving and definitely feeds that zeal to go out and preach the gospel. One of the things that has come into my heart is that I can’t wait to give this to the people.”
Symmes also enjoys living in community.
“The quality of men that are here and discerning priesthood is incredible,” he said.
“We, in a sense, call each other to holiness through our interactions with one another and sharing our lives and knowledge and just building each other up.”
To anyone who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, Symmes has this advice:
“I use the words of St. John Paul II: Be not afraid as to what the Lord may hold for you. Be not afraid to go and search for that because it’s in searching that the Lord will reveal,” he said. “I think that, when you give God just a little bit, he gives you a whole much more. So, be not afraid to go out and discern and, if the Lord does pull on your heart, then answer the call because it’s a life of joy and a life of happiness.”
To the people of the Diocese of Biloxi who have supported him throughout his formation process, Symmes said, “I can’t wait to get to know them, to serve them and to one day becoming a priest.”