HARRISBURG, Pa. – Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, ordained three seminarians as transitional deacons at Saint Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg on Saturday, May 21. These seminarians are entering their final year of formation for the priesthood. As a transitional deacon, they will proclaim the Gospel, preach, and assist the priest as Mass. They can celebrate baptisms, witness marriages, and officiate at funeral rites. In June 2023, it is anticipated they will be ordained priests for the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Deacon Richard Anthony Groff, 60, is from Columbia, Pa. He is a graduate of Columbia High School and Franklin & Marshall College. Prior to entering the seminary, he taught psychology courses at both Lebanon Valley and Harrisburg Area Community colleges, worked in youth and adult ministry, and was a Catholic high school teacher. Groff attends Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. for his formation. He is a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Columbia. Groff said, “I am humbled to be ordained to the diaconate in order to serve the people of the Diocese of Harrisburg and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even more humbling is the realization that in one year I will be ordained to the priesthood and serve as God’s instrument, bringing His grace to others through the celebration of the Sacraments.”
Deacon Kevin McTeigue Key, 27, is from Carlisle, Pa. He graduated from the University of Dallas prior to entering the seminary. Key attends Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, Pa. He is a member of Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Carlisle. He commented, “I am grateful that God has called me and blessed me in this order of the Diaconate. I am looking forward to serving the people and priests of our Diocese in the Gospel and at the altar.”
Deacon Chiedozie Franklin Ononuju, 28, is originally from Nigeria. After moving to the United States, he attended and graduated Bucknell University with a Master’s degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, he entered the seminary. Ononuju attends Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He is a member of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Lewisburg. He commented, “It is such a beautiful thing to be in love with Christ and his Church. And it is a stupendous honor to be tasked with sharing Christ’s love with others, through the grace of Holy Orders.”
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The Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg was established on March 3, 1868. It covers 15 counties in south and central Pennsylvania, is home to 89 parishes and 35 Catholic schools, and has nearly 230,000 Catholics.