Bishop Fellay to Confer the Subdiaconate to seven men at the US Seminary

April 01, 2017
Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary, Dillwyn, VA
The future subdeacon prostrates during the Litany of the Saints

On the traditional date of 'Sitientes' Saturday, the Saturday before the Sunday of the Passion, Bishop Bernard Fellay will confer the order of subdeacon to seven young men at Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary. The ordination to the subdiaconate is the first of the the major orders and final in its nature. It implies indirectly the vow of chastity.

Lowest of the Major Orders

The subdiaconate is the lowest of the sacred or major orders in the Latin Church. It is defined as the power by which one ordained as a subdeacon may carry the chalice with wine to the altar, prepare the necessities for the Eucharist, and read the Epistle before the people.

Touching the chalice, part of the ordination rite

Historically, the earliest mention of the subdiaconate seems to be found in the letter of Pope Cornelius (A.D. 255) to Fabius of Antioch, in which he states that there are among the Roman clergy forty-six priests, seven deacons, and seven subdeacons. There is nothing to indicate, however, that the subdiaconate is not older than the third century. That there were subdeacons in the African Church in the same century is evident from the letters of St. Cyprian.

Rite of Ordination

The subdiaconate is conferred when the bishop gives the empty chalice and paten to the candidate to be touched, saying: "See what kind of ministry is given to you, etc." Two ceremonies following, the presentation of the cruets by the archdeacon, and the imposition of the vestments, are not essential and need not be supplied if omitted (S. R. C., 11, March, 1820). Then the bishop gives the candidate the Book of Epistles to be touched, saying: "Take the Book of Epistles and receive power to read them in the holy Church of God for the living and the dead in the name of the Lord." In case of omission, this rite must be supplied and is probably an essential part of the ordination (S. C. C., 11 Jan., 1711).

Ordinations in 2017

These ordinations to the subdiaconate will be the first ones conferred at the new seminary of the Society in Dillwyn, VA. 

Please check later for further information regarding these ordinations, and remember to pray now for these seminarians.

A Pontifical High Mass at 9:00 AM will be celebrated in which the ordinations to the subdiaconate will be conferred.

Please join the seminary community in the yearly Novena to the Holy Ghost in preparation for these ordinations.