Deacon Keith Burney: At the Altar beside Pope Francis, Deacon Is Reminded of His Calling to Serve
The Vatican requested five deacons for the Mass, so all five transitional deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington were assigned to serve. Truthfully, when I was on the altar with Pope Francis, I was mainly focused on the tasks I had to perform – preparing the chalice, incensing the Holy Father, etc. – rather than the meaning or feeling of the experience. However, when I turned my phone back on after the Mass, I immediately received numerous text messages from family and friends, showing pictures of me and the Pope on their TV screens, and expressing excitement for me. It was a great blessing to see the experience through their eyes, and know that somehow they felt more connected to and blessed by Pope Francis through me. The Holy Father’s ministry unifies all the local churches throughout the world, and ultimately unites us back through time to St. Peter, the rock on whom the Church is founded, so in that moment I served to unite my family and friends to that larger reality. For me, as a seminarian, deacon, and future priest, it simply reminded me that I am meant to be a “man for others” – an instrument that God uses to give his grace to his people.
– Deacon Keith Burney is a fourth-year theology student of the Theological College.