Two men of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh were ordained to the minor order of Subdeacon by Metropolitan William on Sunday, February 4, 2018. The ordination of Thomas Wells, currently in his third year of theology at the Seminary, and Geoffrey Mackey, a graduate of both the Seminary’s M.A.T. academic program and the Deacon Formation Program, took place in the Seminary Chapel immediately preceding Sunday evening vespers. Subdeacon Thomas belongs to St. John Chrysostom Church in Houston, Texas, and Subdeacon Geoffrey belongs to St. Nicholas in Beaver.
The prayers and rituals of this ordination suggest three particular liturgical roles for the subdeacon. The first is to “stand at the doors of (God’s) holy church,” indicating the role of porter. When the newly ordained subdeacon exclaims “All you faithful,” he is suggesting who may remain in the church when it is time to dismiss the catechumens. While our current ritual does not call for the dismissal of catechumens when the Liturgy of the Faithful begins, the exclamation indicates one of the roles of the subdeacon when this was the practice.
The second role is to “light the candles of the dwelling of (God’s) glory.” Altar servers today basically serve the role of the subdeacon. They assist the deacon and priest in the sanctuary. Traditionally, a man would not be permitted to enter the sanctuary until he was ordained a subdeacon.
The third role is to assist the bishop at the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy. The washing of the bishop’s hands by the subdeacon at his ordination makes clear that this job, together with other “assistencia” roles, belong to the subdeacons of the church. The Metropolitan Archbishop beautifully reflected on this mystery in his homily.
We pray that the newly-ordained Subdeacons Thomas and Geoffrey serve well in their new ministry and that they continue well in their formation and discernment for major orders.