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In an effort to provide those who visit this site with up-to-date information regarding  events or stories of interest happening within the diocese, the Secretariat for Communications researches and prepares articles and news releases. 

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Matt Cowan Ordained Deacon

10/17/2013

Gaylord Seminarian Matthew Cowan was one of 41 seminarians from the Pontifical North American College ordained to the transitional diaconate during a celebration of the Eucharist on October 2, 2013. His Eminence, Cardinal James Harvey, Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome, was the ordaining prelate at the Ordination Mass. Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda and Revs. Donald Geyman, Paul Megge and Joseph Kuczborski, a long with 46 other pilgrims from the Diocese of Gaylord joined the celebration. The ordination was celebrated at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter, in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, in the Vatican. Cardinal Harvey, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, an alumnus of the North American College, who has served the Holy See as Prefect to the Papal Household, was created a Cardinal in the Consistory of November 2012 and participated in the Conclave which elected Pope Francis in 2013.

In his homily, Cardinal Harvey emphasized the beginning of the rite of ordination, in which the ordaining prelate asks of the one presenting the candidates, “Do you judge them to be worthy?” Cardinal Harvey encouraged those to be ordained that the worthiness to be ordained does not come from their own talents or preparations, but is a gift given by God for the service of the Church. Highlighting the words spoken to Jeremiah the prophet and Jesus’ words recorded in the Gospel of John, Cardinal Harvey reminded the new deacons that it was God who had initiated this plan for their service and has called them to this new life. He concluded by reminding them that the prayers of the Bishops and hundreds of priests, and thousands in attendance, most especially their families and friends who have prayed for and supported them, are for them to be joyful servants of the truth of the Gospel, whose messengers and preachers they now are.

During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their diocesan bishop. The new deacons will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before being ordained to the priesthood in their home dioceses.

As part of the ordination rite, the Cardinal placed the Book of the Gospels in the hands of each candidate being ordained and said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”

Deacon Cowan said the fact that he is now a deacon is still “sinking in”, noting that “none of us is worthy of the calling, but are called nonetheless. It is hard to describe the humiliation and honor of serving at the altar of Christ and I beg the prayers of the people of God that I may be a good and humble deacon and priest.”

The son of Al and Kathy Cowan of Petoskey and the youngest of three children, Deacon Cowan attended St Francis Xavier Elementary School in Petoskey and then went to the public high school, graduating in 2003. He received his Bachelor’s degree in History and English from Michigan State University before being accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Gaylord. He then received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio in May of 2010, and began his theological studies at Pontifical North American College in Rome that fall. His home parish is Cross in the Woods in Indian River and while on summer break the past two summers he has been assigned to serve St. Mary St. Charles parish in Cheboygan.

“We are so proud of Matthew for following his vocation and being open to what God is calling him to do,” Kathy Cowan said. “We are very appreciative to everyone in the diocese for all of their support, love and prayers showered on Matthew and the rest of the seminarians.”

Reflecting on the event itself, Kathy Cowan beamed. “Being able to celebrate Matthew’s ordination to the diaconate at the Vatican was an extremely emotional experience. Being seated five rows from the Chair of St. Peter was so powerful and awe-inspiring. The emotions we felt during this will not be forgotten.

“To see so many people willing to travel so far and bear the expense of the trip to support Matthew in person was overwhelming and very humbling. It was such a special honor to have Archbishop Hebda by our side the whole time” she added. Also “We can’t thank the diocesan staff enough for everything that they do for the families of seminarians. Their constant prayers and support are at times overwhelming. We just wish that they’d have been able to share this trip with us because in many ways they have become Matt’s family as well.”

Peggy LeBlanc from Wolverine was one of the pilgrims from the Diocese of Gaylord who traveled to Rome for the occasion. “It was very moving and very powerful. Many of us could barely see from our seats near the tomb, but it was so amazing to be there. I kept thinking, ‘Oh my goodness! I am in St. Peter’s and St. Peter is buried there!’ ” Taking in the surroundings of the basilica and noting the large number of priests, bishops, deacons and laity, LeBlanc was overwhelmed as she reflected on the Church past, present and future. “Here we all were, with Matthew, just a guy from Petoskey High School, having hands laid on him to ordain him and the connection all the way back to the very beginning, the present and the future. There is so much hope for our Church in this world. I keep thinking, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord.”

The Pontifical North American College serves as the American seminary in Rome. Founded in 1859 by Blessed Pius IX, the college has formed over 5000 priests near the heart of the Church for service in dioceses around the United States, Australia, and Canada. The College strengthens the bonds between Rome and local Churches worldwide, and it allows its students to study the Church’s rich religious and cultural heritage at close range.

Deacon Cowan is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in June at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord.

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