Supporting Vocations


Photo: Br. Mark Fanders, MIC

The newly ordained deacons are filled with joy after Mass as they are joined by their Provincial Superior the Very Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, the Most Rev. Bishop Roy Campbell, and their Vicar General the Very Rev. Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC.

They Come to Serve! Meet the Marians' Two New Deacons

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Photo: Br. Mark Fanders, MIC

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Before the Holy Mass of Ordination, the men to be ordained were able to meet with Bishop Campbell, the Very Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC (provincial superior), the Most Rev. Fr. Andrzej Pakula, MIC (superior general), and the Very Rev. Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC (vicar general).

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By Melanie Williams (Sep 1, 2018)
In the Crypt Church underneath the massive structure that is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, two Marian seminarians were ordained to the transitional diaconate. This is their last step before ordination to the sacred priesthood which will take place for these two men, God-willing, next year.

Brother Matt Holladay, MIC, and Br. Michael Baker, MIC, are now known as Deacon Matt and Deacon Michael. The Marian community, including the Superior General Most Rev. Fr. Andrzej Pakula, MIC, who was present for the Holy Mass of Ordination, couldn't be prouder and more excited the future of the Congregation.

For the Marians who just celebrated the 109th anniversary of the renovation of their Congregation by Blessed George Matulaitis, who had saved their community from extinction under the Russian government in 1909, each ordination brings an increase in hope for the Gospel message and the Marian charism to continue to spread for years to come. The Marian charism in particular, according to their constitutions is to, "profess, proclaim and honor the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary; assist the dying and the souls suffering in Purgatory; and spread the Kingdom of God on Earth, serving Christ and the Church." This couldn't be more important for our day in age, and these two new deacons are ready to serve.

Deacon Matt Holladay, MIC, is originally from Louisville, Kentucky. His father, mother, brother, and sister were able to come to Washington, D.C. to be present for his diaconate ordination.

Deacon Matt joined the Marians after a lengthy period of discernment — so lengthy that he used to joke that he was a "perpetual discerner of religious life and priesthood."

"Around the time of middle school, I became fascinated by reading the lives of the saints," Deacon Matt shared. "I started to pray more, especially the Rosary."

Then, the summer before high school, he received "the call" to the priesthood.

"I was praying and I heard within me — and not outside me — the words, 'Be a priest my son.' A peace filled my soul that is hard to describe. I knew that no one said this to me audibly and that these words did not come from me."

Thus began Deacon Matt's period of prayer and discernment about the priesthood and religious life.

"I became more interested in religious life priesthood because of the vows, community life, and a greater variety of apostolates. God eventually led me to a vocation retreat weekend with the Marians and I applied soon after. I was looking to be part of a community that had a great love for our Eucharistic Lord, love for our Lady, and fidelity to Christ and His Church. I also became attracted to the charisms and mission of the Marians. Our founder, St. Stanislaus wrote about his call to found the Marians as being engraved or impressed on his heart. I would echo the words engraved or impressed on my heart to describe my desire to be a Marian and that is why I professed perpetual vows to be a Marian in 2012."

Deacon Matt completed his seminary studies this past May and will be spending his time as a deacon serving at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

"Being a deacon is a further surrender and giving of my life to the Lord. I have given my life to Him by vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in love, and this is a deepening of the Christian life. It is taught that a deacon is Servant of the Word, Servant of the Altar, and Servant of Charity. As a deacon, I am especially ordained as a servant of Jesus Christ, conformed to Christ the Servant, called to imitate Christ the Servant, who did not come to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many" (see Mt 20:28).

Deacon Michael Baker is originally from San Diego, California. His mother, Anna, flew all the way from California to witness the special day. Also present were friends from his hometown and over 20 young men whom Deacon Michael has ministered to on the campus of Franciscan University of Steubenville over the past six years.

"I was baptized Catholic, but I didn't grow up practicing the faith. However, my parents sent me to a Christian elementary school where I was taught, 'A good Christian prays every day.' From then on, I prayed every day and enjoyed a relationship with our Lord."

It wasn't until he was an adult, however, that he decided to fully practice his faith.

"I received a gentle invitation from my friends at work to join the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) program," Deacon Michael shared. "It was at the same parish where I was baptized, which happened to be their parish as well."

Over the years in his young adult life, the Lord led Deacon Michael to work as a television producer for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in Birmingham, Alabama. Mother Angelica became like a spiritual mother for him.

"Life was good. God blessed me with good friends and co-workers, a good job, a place to live, and the beautiful gift of being able to spend time with my spiritual mother. But as much as I loved where I worked, I still didn't feel complete. I felt called to the priesthood and religious life."

Deacon Michael chose to enter the Marians for similar reasons as Deacon Matt — the Marians love our Lord and Our Lady, and are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Deacon Michael will be spending his time as a deacon serving at St. Andrew the Apostle in Silver Spring, Maryland, and completing his seminary studies at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

God-willing, next summer, both Deacon Matt and Deacon Michael will be ordained to the sacred priesthood.

Presiding at the Holy Mass of Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate was the Very Rev. Bishop Roy Campbell, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington. He encouraged the men to look at those supporting them this day — their friends and family — to give them strength as they participate in the ministry of Christ as deacons.

Listen to the homily of Bishop Campbell:

Here are some more highlights:

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LAurie Frasor - Sep 1, 2018

So pleased to see Br. Michael Baker ordained to the Diaconate. I have been praying for him for many years. He and my late husband were very good friends.