TWO former seminarians were among the seven married men ordained to the Catholic Church's permanent diaconate at Carlow Cathedral.
The Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin is the fifth diocese to ordain men to this reinstated ministry, bringing the total number of permanent deacons in the Irish church to 28.
In his homily, Bishop Denis Nulty described the ordination as a "powerful" witness in a society and culture that weakens that word "permanent". He described the seven as coming from "a unique position of being immersed in family life" as well as work life and parish life.
Patrick Roche turned 49 the day before his ordination. He is currently working as a business manager for Boland's car dealers in Carlow and is married to Mairead with three children. He spent four years studying for the priesthood in the 1980s at All Hallows College in Dublin.
"I was studying for the Archdiocese of Miami and I spent time out there. The church in the US brought in the permanent diaconate in the late 1960s, so I knew all about permanent deacons."
David O'Flaherty (50) also studied for the priesthood for five years at St Pat's seminary in Carlow from 1983 to 1988. Now a school principal in Bagnelstown, he is married to Maria.
"I believe in Jesus Christ, that is why I went into the seminary. Now I have been gifted with a second opportunity to say yes," he said.