Kevin Grimditch, a parishioner at Corpus Christi Parish in Ahwatukee, was among 41 seminarians ordained to the diaconate Oct. 3 in Rome at the Altar of the Chair in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. They are all studying at the nearby Pontifical North American College.
Family members, priests and friends from around the world gathered to witness the occasion and pray in the eternal city. That included Grimditch’s family and several priests from the Diocese of Phoenix.
Seeing so many gathered really struck the heart of Phoenix’s future priest. It hit him while returning to the sanctuary after distributing communion.
“I had just seen all the faces that have been praying for us come up to receive, no one I really knew, but people nonetheless that I was giving up my life,” Grimditch wrote to The Catholic Sun via email. “So then processing back as a newly ordained deacon, I could see all my classmates and was completely surrounded by the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was absolutely overwhelming.”
Cardinal James Harvey, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and former Prefect of the Papal Household, presided over the ordination. Eight bishops surrounded the altar including James Wall, bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, N.M., who was ordained a priest in Phoenix. Some 300 priests also concelebrated.
Deacon Grimditch credited the example of Phoenix priests for supporting him through his discernment. The younger priests he spent time in seminary with and watched them go through the same steps he has now taken.
“I learned a lot from their prayerful approach,” Deacon Grimditch said.
He also noted the example Phoenix priests ordained decades ago.
“Their support and witness to a joyful priesthood is huge,” Deacon Grimditch said.
Seven years of seminary — the last two in Rome — has been a time of self discipline, he said. He has also become a better communicator, in everything from formulating thoughts and theological points to being a good listener in every conversation.
“Living in a close community with new found brothers is very important in this way,” Deacon Grimditch wrote. “As they say, as iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens man.”
At the same time, Deacon Grimditch found the words of the Holy Father on the eve of his ordination consoling. The seminarians attended the Wednesday audience with Pope Francis the day before their ordination.
The pontiff emphasized that it is Christ and His love that make the Church holy, not the works of its people. Deacon Grimditch, who entered the seminary right out of high school, embraced that gentle reminder.
Cardinal Harvey had a similar message in his homily. He spoke of the unworthiness of anyone who is to receive Holy Orders, according to a Pontifical North American College news story. Christ makes a man worthy and singles him out, he told the ordinandi.
The new deacons join 12 other seminarians ordained earlier this year. They won’t have a parish apostolate as transitional deacons do in the U.S., but they will have a chance to minister at some of the American Catholic colleges with campuses in Rome.
Deacon Grimditch will be serving at the University of Mary’s campus in Rome and loves that the school has a presence in the Diocese of Phoenix too.
Related blogpost: Serving from Rome with love with links to additional photos and vocation story