Deacon Honored To Assist At Papal Mass
Published: February 5, 2009
ATLANTA—It was a unique privilege and honor for Atlanta native and St. Pius X High School graduate Brother Joseph (Matthew) Van House to serve as one of two principal deacons for Pope Benedict XVI on Jan. 1 at the Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God and World Peace Day at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy.
His parents, John and Pat Van House, parishioners of Mary Our Queen Church in Norcross, attended the Mass.
For the past two years, Brother Joseph has been pursuing graduate studies in theology in Rome. Last August he professed permanent vows to the Cistercian community in Dallas, Texas, and was ordained a transitional deacon. He is to be ordained a priest on Aug. 15 at Our Lady of Dallas Abbey.
Writing to his family, he said assisting the pope at the New Year’s Mass was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“It was an amazing day to help the successor to Peter lead Christ’s faithful in the worship of our Father, ‘lifting up the prayers of the people like incense to God’ in gratitude and trust for the coming year. It was even more wonderful because my parents could be there.”
After ordination, Brother Joseph will serve as a teacher and priest at Cistercian Preparatory School. The Dallas Cistercians are a monastic community of educators serving the Cistercian school and the University of Dallas.
In addition to his connection with St. Pius, where he graduated in 1999, Brother Joseph and his family have a deep and rich connection with a number of churches in the Atlanta Archdiocese. He was baptized and confirmed at Holy Cross Church in Atlanta, where he was an altar server, and spent his teen years, where his parents say he first heard the stirrings of a call to a religious vocation, at Mary Our Queen Church.
His grandparents, Charles and Susan Van House, were active at Immaculate Conception Parish when they arrived in Atlanta in the 1950s and later at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. They also became founding members of Prince of Peace Church in Buford. Charles Van House was a past grand knight with the Lilburn Knights of Columbus and an active supporter of seminarians.