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Archives Ordination is scheduled for May 25
Deacon Pierce: ‘I’m confident this is what God’s calling me to’

May 22, 2024

By Darcy Fargo

As he prepares for his ordination to the priesthood, Deacon Carter Pierce says he’s at peace.

“Honestly, I feel great,” he said. “I feel peaceful, and I’m ready for this. I’ve had seven years of seminary and almost a decade of discernment. The peace and surety came a while ago. The details of the ordination and all the plans related to it are a bit tough to wrangle, but I’m confident this is what God is calling me to and that this is the time he’s calling me to it, and he’ll provide regardless. I’m living in that trust.”

Deacon Pierce, 26, a parishioner of St. Raphael’s in Heuvelton, noted that he’ll be renewing some of the vows he made when he was ordained to the diaconate last year, but he’ll also be receiving the graces that come with his priestly ordination.

“The diaconate is mostly about giving,” he said. “The priesthood is receiving. It’s a big responsibility, obviously, making sure I can celebrate the sacraments rightly and have good answers for the questions people may have, but I feel like the priests in charge of my formation have prepared me well.”

Deacon Pierce said his year as a deacon has been very fulfilling and further confirmed his vocation.

“Being a deacon has been amazing,” he said. “I’ve loved it. If Bishop LaValley had decided to not called me to ordination as a priest, to be a deacon the rest of my life would not have been a bad thing. It’s been a good gig.”

The deacon said he especially enjoyed celebrating baptisms.

“To be able to celebrate the sacrament of baptism was pretty profound,” he said. “It’s the realization that I helped bring a soul to God.

Deacon Pierce said he also grew closer to God serving in both prayer and in the Mass.

“Being a deacon, I immediately felt God calling me closer to him,” he said. “The conformity to God is real. He does, through ordination, draw you closer to himself. It was challenging in some of my weaker moments, but it’s really, really beautiful what God has done with me as a deacon. He drew me closer to him in prayer, but also in the Mass, I was actually closer to him. I’ve been an altar server for a long time, so I’ve been in the sanctuary, but as a deacon, I was right there at the altar preparing the bread and wine for consecration. It strikes me when right before the Great Amen, in the Doxology, the priest hands the chalice to the deacon. I think, ‘I’m so unworthy to be so close to you, Lord, but how beautiful that you called me all the same and make me worthy.’”

Deacon Pierce said his year in the diaconate also brought him closer to scripture.

“Growing up, I didn’t read scripture much,” he said. “Of course, I studied it in seminary, but as a deacon, part of the real grace of ordination was encountering scripture in a different way. I don’t always communicate it as well as God communicates it to me, but it’s really beautiful.”

Deacon Pierce says he looks forward to the next part of his ministry, especially “the things only a priest can do – celebrating Mass, confession and the sacraments.”

“I’m definitely excited, though even a bit daunted,” he said. “In seminary, we practice celebrating the sacraments and make sure we can celebrate them well. I’ve been doing practice Masses several times a week, praying through it and trying to lift my heart to God. I’m excited to take that next step and be the one in the sanctuary who says, ‘this is my body,’ and it really becomes Jesus.”

He also noted that he’s especially excited to share what he’s learned in the seminary.

“The thing that is in my daydreams, the part I’m really looking forward to, is teaching, whether it be religious education classes, sacramental preparation or adult faith formation. Instead of being a student, I’ll be a teacher. Helping out with RCIA in the parishes where I served (as a deacon) in Maryland, I found a real love of sharing the truth of the faith in that way.”

Deacon Pierce is also looking forward to evangelizing and “just being present in the community where I’m serving, attending civic events, going to to high school sports and just walking the streets and praying the rosary.”

As he and his family prepares for the ordination weekend festivities, Deacon Pierce says he’s extremely grateful to his family for their support.

“We’re close as a family,” he said. “We try our best to get together for birthdays and holidays. That will be harder going forward. The holidays are the days it would be hardest to be home. That’s something that may be hard for me, learning to navigate that. They’re excited to have a priest in the family. I’m excited to have them to lean on. If I get too wound up in something, they’re able to bring me back to earth. They’ll always be the people who know me best. I hope this brings us all closer together, even if we’re apart on holidays.”

After his ordination, he’s looking forward to celebrating Mass with “a simple chalice” that came into his possession through a parish connection.

“It’s a fairly simple, but elegant gold chalice that – years and years ago – was in the possession of another parishioner at St. Raphael’s in Heuvelton, Joseph Jelenek,” he said. “I didn’t really know him growing up. He studied architecture at Catholic University in Washington, DC, where I originally went to college before seminary. I guess that connection sort of forged our relationship. When I went to seminary, he was a continuous supporter.”

Deacon Pierce said Jelenek was in possession of a chalice that originally had the name of a religious sister inscribed on it until he passed it on to another deacon.

“I don’t know its full story,” the deacon said. “But 15 or more years ago, it was given to Deacon Adam Crowe. I knew Adam just a little bit. He was in seminary when I was a young altar server. Shortly after I started serving, (Deacon Crowe) passed away. The chalice remained in the possession of his parents, Larry and Theresa Crowe, and a couple of years ago, they gave it to me. Adam died just before he was ordained to the priesthood. I’m the first seminarian from our parish since him.”

Looking back on his preparation period, Deacon Carter said he’s also extremely grateful for the support from fellow parishioners, DOVS and the people and organizations spread around the diocese.

“I received so much support from people all over the diocese, some who I have met, often in summer parish assignments and others who have promised me their prayers simply because I am a seminarian, all of whom have adopted me, so to speak, throughout my years of preparation,” he said. “It is a humbling gift to have the encouragement of so many.”

Deacon Carter also invited diocesan residents to attend the ordination Mass.

“It’s one of the most beautiful liturgies of the Church,” he said. “It’s such a gift to the Church. We can all celebrate together, whether we know the men involved or not. I’m becoming more and more convinced that God shows provincial care for places, especially here where so many people are leaving and so many others in the world don’t know we exist. God knows us, and God is with us, and he’s staying with us, and he’ll continue to call people to share in his ministry and to care for his people. It’s a celebration not so much of the priest to be ordained, but it’s a celebration of what God is doing for us and in us.”

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