First men in Lithuania to be ordained as Permanent Deacons
On Saturday 24 June 2017, the Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist, five men stepped forward in the Kaunas Cathedral of St Peter and Paul before their Archbishop, Most Rev Lionginas Virbalas to offer themselves for ordination to the diaconate. These five men Benas Ulevicius, Darius Venckauskas, Audrius Jesinkas, Nerijus Capas and Darius Chmieliauskas were to be the first men in Lithuania to be ordained as Permanent Deacons. All 5 men are married and have young families who were present at the ordination to support them at the start of their journey as ordained deacons.
All of the five men as well as being married with young families work in fields from academia to business, and from the media to the military. They will continue with the jobs as well as having their roles as deacons in parishes across the diocese and in the case of Deacon Audrius Jesinkas in a new role as a military chaplain.
Also present at the ordination in the packed Cathedral were Emeritus Archbishop Sigitas Temkeivicius who had begun the process of setting up the diaconate formation programme and had selected seven men to go forward onto the programme, five of which had proceeded to ordination.
There was, as well, deacons and wives present from around the world to offer support to these first deacons in Lithuania. These were Deacon Casimir Ambroziatas, a Canadian Deacon from the Lithuanian parish in Toronto and his wife Angela who led the ordination retreat, Deacon Tony Schmitz from Aberdeen in Scotland who had led the first Propaedutic weekend for them, and Deacon Mark Woods and his wife, Jane from Worthing in England who as an IDC board delegate represented the IDC at the ordination.
The next day three of the men, Benas Ulevicius, Darius Venckauskas, and Nerijus Capas ministered as deacons before 30,000 people at the beatification of Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis martyred by the Soviets in 1962.
Archbishop Lionginas Virbalas is hoping to begin a further programme for diaconal formation for Lithuanian men in a year or so. We wish him and the new deacons every blessing in the future in their work and ministries.