When Thomas Lugge is ordained by Bishop Michael McGovern as a transitional deacon May 22, he will begin the final year of formation before ordination to the priesthood.
The transitional diaconate will be Lugge’s entry into the clerical state, which means he will become a member of the clergy.
Bishop Michael McGovern called Lugge “a wonderful young man” and said he looks forward to ordaining him to the sacred priesthood next year.
A bishop only calls a man to become a transitional deacon if it is his intention that, following one year as a deacon, he would then ordain the man to the priesthood.
Next school year, Lugge, 25, will still be studying full time as he finishes his last year of seminary formation and studies at Kenrick-Glennon seminary in St. Louis, before he is ordained a priest next year. As a transitional deacon, however, he will be assigned to spend Saturdays and Sundays in a parish in the Diocese of Belleville.
For most transitional deacons, the year is a pastoral, liturgical and educational preparation period for the priesthood.
Lugge will be given faculties to preach, so writing homilies during the week will become a new part of his routine. Transitional deacons also become more involved in sacramental-related activities, including marriage prep, RCIA formation, burials and baptisms.
A transitional deacon is also there to assist the priest in serving the people.
“I will have the opportunity to begin ministry as a deacon while I finish my studies,” he says. “This ministry will include assisting at Mass as a deacon, preaching, leading exposition and benediction during holy hours, and taking Communion to the sick and homebound, and possibly baptisms and funeral services. I am looking forward to serving in whatever way I can and the pastor decides what will be most useful or formative.”
A transitional deacon makes three promises: to pray daily the Liturgy of the Hours, Obedience to the bishop, and Celibacy.
The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the “Breviary,” consists of three psalms, a reading from Scripture and petitions. It is a participation in the Perpetual Liturgy going on in Heaven. At the same time, through the Breviary, clergy sanctify the secular hours of the day and night on earth.
His first Mass preaching as a transitional deacon will be May 23, the day after his ordination, for Pentecost. The Mass will be at 10:30 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville.
Lugge says he has been interested in the priesthood since he was young.
“The first time that the idea of the priesthood was planted in my head was when a music teacher around third grade mentioned that I would make a good priest,” he says. “The idea really stuck with me in the back of my head as I grew up and entered high school. It wasn’t until junior year in high school that I began to seriously discern if God was calling me to be a priest.”
Lugge says that through that year, he was anxious about trying to figure out the answer to this question and the direction that God was calling him.
“I thought that I needed to answer these questions on my own,” he says. “Eventually, after hearing the witness of a newly ordained priest, I decided that God was calling me to this vocation, and that this is what I wanted.”
He says that after reaching this decision, God filled him with his peace and joy, and he knew that God had given him the grace to make this decision.
“After reaching this point, I began the process of opening myself up to God’s grace and conforming my life to Jesus,” he says. “I ended up being called to enter the Priestly Discernment Program at Franciscan University as a way of fulfilling my requirement for college seminary formation.”
After he graduated, Lugge entered into Theology I at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, where he is now finishing his third year. He says his time at the seminary has been very grace-filled, and he is grateful that God has called him to this process of growing as a man of God and hopefully as a priest.
“I know that I certainly would not be here without the incredible support and prayers of my family, friends, and all those in our Diocese who are praying for me, whether I have met them in their parishes or not,” he says. “God has truly been at work in my life, and I have been incredibly blessed more than I could ever deserve, or even understand, in this calling to give my life to God and the people of the Diocese of Belleville.”
Lugge is the son of Doug and Jill Lugge. He has an older sister, Alicia Lugge, a younger brother Robert, and a younger sister Olivia.