Photo: Chao Wang
By Father Angelo Casimiro, MIC (Jan 15, 2009)
On the eve of the Baptism of the Lord, Jan. 10, surrounded by family, friends, and fellow Marians, Br. Andy Davy, MIC, was ordained a deacon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Feeling "a great joy and a deep peace," Deacon Andy said following the ceremony that he sees himself as called to bear the message of hope, which is Jesus Christ, to a world that desperately needs it.
In learning to serve the Church as a Marian, Deacon Andy said he feels a particular closeness to St. Paul, the super apostle who inspires him to live the zeal of the Marians' founder, Bl. Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701), and the renovator of the Marians, Bl. George Matulaitis (1871-1927). Aware that he has just entered a "spiritual war zone" as a deacon for the Church, Deacon Andy sees himself "as a soldier for Christ for the salvation of souls."
"But what was neat just about being ordained," he added, "is that it was such a joy, an overwhelming joy. Joy takes away the fear. Satan may actively hate God's ministers, but we've been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Satan's got nothing on the Holy Spirit. I trust that God is with me and that it is through His power that I can live out this ministry."
[***View a photo gallery of the weekend's ordination events.***]
Four Dominican brothers — Br. Isaiah Mary Molano, OP; Br. James Dominic Brent, OP; Br. John Chrysostom Kozlowski, OP; and Br. John Baptist Duc Nguyen, OP — were also ordained deacons during the ceremony, which took place in the Basilica's Crypt Church.
The celebrant and homilist was the Most Reverend Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington. Brother Chris Alar, MIC served as the crucifer, and Brs. Richard Mary Dolan, MIC, and Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, served as the thurifers. I had the privilege of serving as the book bearer and Br. Ken Dos Santos, MIC, was as one of the lectors.
Marian Fathers who concelebrated at the ordination Mass included Fr. Daniel Cambra, MIC, the Provincial Superior for the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province; Fr. Mark Baron, MIC, the house superior for the Marian Scholasticate; Fr. Larry Dunn, MIC; Fr. Robert Vennetti, MIC; Fr. Klaudiusz Rokicki, MIC; Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC; Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC; and Fr. John Larson, MIC. Other Marian brothers who were present included Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC; Br. Ken Galisa, MIC; Br. Jason Lewis, MIC; and Br. Jim McCormack, MIC. The Marian novices who were present included John Luth, Steven Ybarra, David Blasland, Matthew Holladay, and Allen Alexander. Brother Andy's parents, Mike and K.C. Davy, and his brothers, Daniel, Paul and Michael, were present.
A reception was held for Deacon Andy's family, friends, and the Marian Fathers and Brothers at the Mother of God Community in Gaithersburg, Md. Bishop Holley was an honored guest. Deacon Mike Davy, Deacon Andy's father, thanked everyone on behalf of his family for coming to celebrate in the joyous event. A slide presentation of Deacon Andy's life as a Marian was shown during the reception.
Later in the evening on the vigil of the Baptism of the Lord, Deacon Andy ministered at the altar for the first time as a deacon. He assisted the celebrant, Fr. Francis Martin, at a Mass for the Mother of God Community. Deacon Andy also delivered his first homily.
The following day, Jan. 11, the Baptism of the Lord, Deacon Andy ministered at a Mass in The Divine Mercy Chapel of the Marian Assisted Living Center in Brookeville, Md. Father Dan Cambra, MIC, was the celebrant. Deacon Andy delivered his second homily, and the Mass was also followed by a reception.
[***We invite you to listen to a recording of Deacon Andy's homily.***]
A Trusted Friend
In July 2004, I first met Andy Davy. I was in Stockbridge, Mass., at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, on a vocation discernment retreat with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, was the vocation director at the time, and he introduced me and the others on the retreat to Andy, their postulant. Andy, a lover of the great outdoors, became our guide as we went hiking in the Berkshire Hills. In March 2005, I would meet Andy again, along with his novice brothers, Jason Lewis and Ron McBride, at the Marian Scholasticate in Washington, D.C. Next, I would be present in August 2005 as the three of them made their first profession of vows as Marian brothers. I entered the Marians as a postulant at the same time.
Over the past few years, I have come to know and respect Deacon Andy as a trusted friend and brother. How does one describe Deacon Andy? He has the heart of a child but the wisdom of someone far beyond his 28 years. He is a young man of many moods and talents. One moment he may be watching an episode of "The Muppet Show" while doing an imitation of Kermit the Frog. The next moment he may be discussing St. Thomas Aquinas or one of his favorite philosophers. Another moment he may be getting ready to take a backpacking trip with his family. Or next he may be singing and playing one of his favorite praise-and-worship songs on the piano or playing a cool beat on the drums. He takes delight in all of these activities.
What We're Called to Be
I was blessed to have been asked to be the book bearer during the ordination Mass because it placed me where all the action was. Therefore, I was right there holding the book for Bishop Holley as he placed his hands on Br. Andy's head and ordained him as a deacon. I couldn't help but think of the image of the Baptism of the Lord. As Deacon Andy got up, I imagined God the Father saying, "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." How appropriate then that the first homily Deacon Andy delivered would be on this particular gospel passage.
Following his diaconate ordination, I sat down with Deacon Andy. He shared his thoughts on his ordination, his first homily, the support of his family and the Mother of God Community in his priestly and religious vocation, his life as a Marian, and what he sees ahead as he prepares for the priesthood.
As to his first homily, he said, "I just started to get that image of 'a picture is worth more than a thousand words.' And I just started looking at the Baptism of the Lord as a picture of who God is and what we're called to be. Then what came was this idea of the plunging into the water as Christ entering fully into our human condition."
When Bishop Holley placed his hands upon Deacon Andy and called upon the Holy Spirit to ordain him, he thought about Christ: "What Christ did in being anointed with the Holy Spirit is that He went out to open the eyes of the blind, to free those prisoners from captivity, and to bring them out of the darkness and into the marvelous light. That's what I'm called to in Christ, to go in the Holy Spirit. It's just awe-inspiring. The Lord really did something in this ordination. I think I'm going to learn more and more what He's done. This ordination is a very real configuration to Christ, and I'm very humbled that Christ desired me to be one of His ministers."
Good and Holy Parents
In the years I have known Deacon Andy, he has always had a great love for his family. I asked him what kind of impact his family has had on his priestly and religious vocation.
"First, my parents just didn't give me the gift of physical existence, but spiritual existence also," he said. "I've really been blessed with, not perfect, but very good and holy parents. And I'm just so grateful that they helped me early on to experience Jesus in a very real way. I'm eternally grateful for that because it's the foundation for everything. Secondly, I think my parents in a special way were very supportive in my vocation, whether it was marriage or the priesthood and religious life. I think that was just such a great help to really have them actively supporting me. And what I've found is neat is just seeing how they've really come to love the Marians, both of them in different ways."
Deacon Andy's dad, Deacon Mike Davy, was ordained to the permanent diaconate in June 2008. Because of his great love for the Marians, he was made an honorary Marian by Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC. At his son's diaconate ordination, it was Deacon Mike who vested Deacon Andy. "One thing I think especially about my dad being a deacon," Deacon Andy explained, "is getting to grow really close to my dad. It's really been neat as we're both walking on the same path to ordination. Something really happened that deepened our relationship. So it's just really neat to see this little gift. It was such a joy to have him able to do the vesting."
In Imitation of Mary
Deacon Andy grew up in the Mother of God Community, an ecclesial movement in the Catholic Church prompted by the charismatic renewal.
"I think my experience with the Mother of God Community was very foundational for understanding the importance of living out our baptism and not just being baptized but really living that life in the Spirit," said Deacon Andy. "I was basically born into the community, and one of the things I remember that is such a gift was growing up with the sense that God is real. He just wasn't someone to put on the bookshelf and take off during Sunday. He was supposed to be the very air we breathe — Christ is to be the center of our lives. So I think that was really important."
Since Deacon Andy entered the Marians, he has made it a point to visit the school at the Mother of God Community each year. (He attended school there from first grade to eighth grade.) "These kids," he said, "have been exposed to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. They've been exposed to Blessed Stanislaus and Divine Mercy and Mary Immaculate. It's neat to see just how they really come to love in a particular way the Blessed Mother and Divine Mercy. And what I'm excited about is that this whole school is going to be invited to my priestly ordination. I see it as such an opportunity for them to be exposed to the graces of ordination. Some of these kids are now high school students whom I've known since they were kindergarteners. So it's kind of neat to keep that friendship with the school. And it's something that I hope to be able to continue."
The newly ordained deacon sees a particular connection between the Mother of God Community and the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. He explained, "One of the missions of the Mother of God Community is, in imitation of Mary, to be a bearer of the light of Christ to the world. And in many ways that's very much what it means to be a Marian. So I kind of see it as not a coincidence about growing up in Mother of God and becoming a Marian. It's not a coincidence but a way of continuing my own spiritual heritage."
Discovering the Marians
How did Deacon Andy discover the Marians? He explained he was looking into different religious orders at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he was attending college. He was at a praise and worship holy hour at the university and met a couple of Marian brothers — one of them being Br. Donald Calloway, MIC, who has become a popular Marian priest and speaks all around the world. Deacon Andy had never heard of the Marians before. He was invited to "come and see." During his years at CUA, he ended up meeting other Marian brothers, like Br. Anthony Gramlich and Br. John Larson and Marian novices Mark Baron and Matthew Lamoreaux. All of them now are Marian priests. Deacon Andy eventually learned about the history and charism of the Marians as he played ping-pong with one of the brothers.
"I started learning about the Divine Mercy message, their rich love of Mary Immaculate, their fidelity to the Holy Father, and their charism of praying for the holy souls in purgatory," Deacon Andy said. "All of these things started to resonate with me and particularly the call to be a dust cloth for the Church and going where the need is greatest. I came to grow more in discerning the vocation to the Marians."
Goodness and a Very Real Love of God
When asked what inspires him the most about the Marians, Deacon Andy said, "I think that with the Marians there's such goodness and a very real love of God — very down to earth and authentic. The zeal is what first brought me to the Marians because I saw a real zeal that just wasn't a false kind of pie-in-the-sky but a very real zeal for the salvation of souls. I found that in just getting to know my brothers in community and especially my seminarian brothers here at the Marian Scholasticate, that God has blessed the Marians so well with really different but very good brothers. A band of brothers — I think that's such a great way of looking at it. I don't see the Marians as just the group that I happen to be with; they're my family."
As he looks ahead to his priestly ordination, Deacon Andy said that he is open to whatever God has waiting for him.
"One thing I've known even growing up," he explained, "is that I just like a lot of things — outdoor wilderness stuff or music and so on. I have all these different hobbies, but I think that is also kind of the same with serving God. There is a sort of openness to whatever the Lord wants of me. I can see in a special way doing pastoral work — working with people I think would be something that the Lord would call me to. Another area is working with the youth. I could definitely see that in some way, but I could also see the Lord wanting me to work in formation, in missions, etc. I really don't know what He has in store. All I can say is, "Here I am Lord, help me to do Your will.' "
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Brother Angelo Casimiro, MIC, is a seminarian at the Marian Scholasticate in Washington, D.C.