By Katie Farrell
As Brother Michael Carter lay face down in the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel below Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, he opened himself up to a life of humbleness and adoration for his worship as he recited his vows to become the newest deacon at Saint Michael’s College.
“It’s hard to express or articulate the emotion because it’s something that I’ve kind of been building up to in my life for a long time either indirectly or directly,” said Carter of his ordination as a deacon on February 11.
In his first few weeks as a deacon, Carter has not experienced much major change. He remains an instructor in religious studies, he is involved in the MOVE programs and often attends meetings with the Student Association and is very active around the community. “His office is in Alliot, his door is always open and he’s super nice. He has a really funny sense of humor,” said sophomore, religious studies major Maggie McKeon.
However, Carter now is allowed more involvement in public masses and has the ability to perform certain religious ceremonies. This includes baptisms, weddings, and funerals.
McKeon said that she enjoyed the fact that Carter and another brother, Philip J. Lawson, who was ordained alongside him, were both so young. She was impressed by this, as the deacons at her home church are all much older than the two she witnessed giving their vows.
The ordination ceremony is different from a regular Catholic mass. A Bishop leads the mass and recites passages as well as leads the recital of vows. The brothers lay face down in front of him for a process called prostration, similar yet a more special act than bowing or kneeling as they will do in traditional masses.
From a personal perspective, Carter described his ceremony as a nerve-wracking experience, however was relieved by the accompaniment of many peers. “I was very gratified by a lot of people showing up, my family obviously and other people that I knew, but students were there as well, people from the St. Mike’s community.”
Carter said he has felt a religious calling for almost his entire life. As soon as he was able to distinguish himself as an individual, which he says was around the age of 12, is when he felt “the seed was planted”. Coming from a family with no remarkably large ties to religion, his choice to follow a religious path into Roman Catholicism was entirely personal, he said. There was no influence for or against his decision from his family.
Not only was he surrounded by community members and family, but several priests and deacons from the area attended as well. He was extremely thankful to those who took the time to attend his ceremony. Although not normally an emotional person, he says it was quite an emotional time for him.
McKeon, who is often a lector during Sunday masses, was selected by Carter to be a reader at his ceremony. She is an active member in the campus ministry and the peer ministry group on campus called VITA.
She recited a passage from the Book of Jeremiah, 1:4-9. “I thought it was a really pretty reading, I enjoyed it.” To quote the reading directly, “‘You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.”
Having just completed grad school, Carter, at 27, is very young to have already become a deacon. According to Brian Cummings, director of campus ministry since 2003, ages of people who go through this process “[are] very unique, it’s like when someone decides to get married.”
“I’ve known Michael since he was a student, and I’m very happy he joined the society of Saint Edmund and this year he’s been working with me in campus ministry,” said Cummings. He briefly described the process of becoming a deacon as a “sacrament of holy orders with three offices, deacon, priest, and bishop.” Carter has just completed the first step toward becoming a priest, which.
Prior to his ordination, Carter graduated from Saint Michael’s in 2012 and received his Masters of Divinity from Boston College last year. He then returned to the Edmundite community to join the Society of St. Edmund.
“It’s a different opportunity to reach people,” Carter said describing his new role as deacon.