Archdiocese of Detroit’s newest deacon expresses his gratitude as ‘happiness doubled by wonder’

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DETROIT — Deacon Robert Calleja became the newest member of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s fraternity of deacons Oct. 17, when he was ordained by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

As family, friends and well-wishers watched in person and via livestream, the archbishop laid hands on Deacon Calleja, 47, imparting to him a “threefold” ministry, the archbishop said.

“As the liturgy itself says and the Church teaches in her official documents, it is a ministry of charity, it of serving the word, and of the sacraments,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “This is one reality manifested in these three appearances of charity, word and sacramental ministry.”

In acknowledging Deacon Calleja’s journey to the diaconate, he added the Church was praying for another man, Joe Colleran, who also would have been ordained a deacon, but died on Christmas Day in 2018. 

Archbishop Vigneron acknowledged and thanked Colleran’s wife, Kim, who read one of the readings during the ordination Mass before leading a prayer of repose for Colleran’s soul.

In his remarks after the ordination liturgy, Deacon Calleja thanked the archbishop, along with his formators, family and friends.

“The great 20th century English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton once said that ‘gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder,’” Deacon Calleja said. “I think that’s about as close as I can get to describing what’s in my heart right now. With profound gratitude, I’d like to thank almighty God for leading me through life to this day. In his infinite mercy, he took a once worldly kid and led him to the heart of his holy Church. And I’m truly filled with wonder and awe, and I’m ready to serve him with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.”

“The Gospel has been unleashed in me, and now I’m ready to unleash it in my turn,” Deacon Calleja added.

Deacon Calleja said the alb he was wearing under his dalmatic once belonged to his classmate, Colleran, who had gifted it to him weeks before he died. 

“It’s a profound gift from a man with a deacon’s heart,” Deacon Calleja said of Colleran. “I like to think maybe he’s wearing a deacon’s stole in God’s kingdom now, and he’ll be prayerfully helping me to be a good deacon on earth until we meet again. Thank you, Kim, for your reading today and for your continued prayers and friendship.”

Deacon Calleja will serve his first assignment at Divine Child Parish in Dearborn.

See more photos from the ordination Mass below.

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