On Friday, July 13, at St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral, the seat for the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle, Daniel Shabilla and Peter Patros were ordained deacons in a ceremony that filled the church with classical Aramaic chants.
The ceremony began with a processional so long that it had to begin forming at the cathedral’s hall. Leading the way were Chaldean deaconesses, women who serve and assist the Church, but according to Canon Law, are not clergy. Following them was a large number of priests in alb, cincture, and stole clothing, the vestments of clergy who are not celebrating Eucharistic elements in the Liturgy. Shabilla and Patros followed after, each in the vestments particular to the subdiaconate. Eventually, the celebrants entered who would lead the people gathered in the Holy Sacrifice (Qaddysh Qurbana) and ordain the two men as deacons: the Eparchy’s former Bishop Mar Sarhad Yawsip Jammo and current Bishop Mar Emmanuel Shaleta. The entire service was in Aramaic, the language of Christ’s daily life, which has been utilized in liturgical functions by the Chaldean Church for its entire existence.
The Liturgy began with Bishop Shaleta praying that the Lord would “accomplish through my weak hands and my humble intercession this spiritual service”. Then, the choir chanted Psalm 105, which calls all people to thanksgiving. Soon after, Bishop Shaleta took both men’s hands and raised them up to the candle in the sanctuary. Shabilla, Patros, and the deacon then sang Psalm 15, alternating parts. Psalm 15 is a traditional fixture of the Chaldean Divine Liturgy and commands purity in man’s worship of God. The bishop prayed that God would work through the men ordained that day, that they would become “profitable plant in the faithful land that is set apart for the honor of your [God’s] glory,” and that God would “destroy and scatter laziness, the barren mother, from their characters.” After this prayer, Shabilla and Patros responded, “Lord, teach me the way of your laws, and I will keep them.”
After the recitation of another psalm, the men who were to become deacons kneeled on their right knees and put their faces down but kept their hands up. According to the Liturgical documents, “The extension of the fingers of deacons is a sign of their service being lifted up, as they are subject to priests.” Bishop Shaleta then raised his hand over the men and prayed that God would give them the grace to perform their duties well and with all piety. He signed the two men on the forehead with the Sign of the Cross, then went before the altar to announce, “Danny and Peter have been set apart, sanctified, perfected, and completed for the ecclesiastical service, and the work of Levi, and Stephen, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
All chanted a final hymn and the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist took place with Bishop Shaleta celebrating and Bishop Jammo concelebrating. Once everything was over, the priests, bishops, deaconesses, and of course, the new deacons processed out and over to the cathedral’s community hall. There, coffee and baklava were served to all who attended.
Photos by Brigitta Sanchez-O’Brien