Deacons share a father-son moment during ordination ceremony in Rome

For Deacon Mark Gallagher, the ordination of his son, Charles, as a transitional deacon Oct. 8 in Rome was almost like father, like son.

Mark Gallagher has been a permanent deacon since 1996, while Charles is on track to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., next June.

“It’s a great blessing,” the elder Gallagher said. “I couldn’t be more thankful to God.”

Deacon Mark Gallagher has, since 2007, served as a permanent deacon at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Margate.

Ordained in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in 1996, Deacon Mark two years ago retired from his job of 33 years, working in the government liaison office, as a lobbyist for for the poor and unborn, for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He and his wife, Kathy, retired to Ocean City, where he was able to continue serving as a permanent deacon.

Growing up as the seventh of nine children in Adelphi, Md., son Charles Gallagher, his parents recalled, loved watching and playing sports such as football, baseball and soccer, and also was an avid music lover. The Catholic faith, as well, was important.

“Faith has always been at the center of our family,” Mark said, noting that the household would say the rosary every night after dinner, and after Sunday Mass, the whole family would visit a nursing home.

Charles Gallagher received his first hint of a calling to the priesthood after attending a spiritual retreat just before high school, when he was 14. However, it wasn’t until his sophomore year at the University of Dallas, when he studied abroad in Rome and met Pope John Paul II, that he pursued the priesthood.

After studying at Fordham University in New York, and living and working at the St. John Neumann Residence at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers; taking his first year of theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., Charles is currently studying at the North American College in Rome, working to complete a bachelor of sacred theology by next year. After his ordination, he expects to complete a licentiate in systematic theology in Rome, before returning to the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Oct. 8 ordination was attended by Charles’ parents, three of his siblings, his grandmother, and other relatives.

After his son’s ordination, Mark was allowed to vest his son.

Deacon Mark says that while raising his children, he always taught them to listen to God’s call carefully, for whatever he wants them to do.

“If you respond affirmatively, you will be most fulfilled, most blessed.”

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