Two seminarians of the Diocese of Trenton – Wynne Kerridge and Brian Meinders – will mark another step on their journey toward the priesthood when they are ordained transitional deacons by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, May 20 at 10 a.m.

Ordination as a transitional deacon generally occurs after a seminarian has completed several years of study in theology and takes place usually one year prior to priestly ordination. As deacons, they will be ordinary ministers of Baptism, and will be able to preside at weddings, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and preach, as well as preside at wakes and funeral services.

As men who are committed to becoming priests, transitional deacons make a promise of celibacy.

Wynne Kerridge credits life experiences for prompting vocation journey

By Mary Stadnyk • Associate Editor

After traveling on varied roads, both physical and spiritual, throughout his life and meeting numerous people along the way, 29-year-old Wynne Kerridge will reach a milestone on his vocation journey when he is ordained a deacon May 20.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Kerridge grew up in a practicing Presbyterian-Anglican family with his parents, David and Lisa Sinak and siblings Cotty Hilman, and Slade and Calder Sinak. It was during his freshman year at Princeton University, where he majored in economics and had a number of friends who were Catholic, that he was prompted to explore the Catholic faith.

 “After a year of intense study and prayer,” he said, “I was convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church,” and was received during his sophomore year into full communion with the Catholic Church Dec. 8, 2013, in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Allentown. The day, he said, was the first anniversary of the first Mass he ever attended.

After more than two years of growing spiritually through the Aquinas Institute, the university’s Catholic campus ministry, Kerridge entered a small religious order in southern France in the Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian where he remained for 18 months.

He then transferred to the Diocese of Trenton and entered Mount St. Mary Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., in 2018, where he is pursuing Master of Divinity and Master of Arts degrees in Church history. He has served several summer parish assignments including St. Michael, Long Branch; Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown; Visitation Parish, Brick, and St. Charles Borromeo, Cinnaminson.

Looking ahead to this year’s diaconate ordination and expected priestly ordination next year, Kerridge describes his vocation as “inspired by the two great commandments of love of God and of neighbor, upon which hang all the law and the prophets.”

Kerridge described ordination to the transitional diaconate in terms of marriage, when “the Diocese of Trenton and I make permanent commitments to each other. … I am committing myself irrevocably to a life of celibacy, ecclesiastical ministry, obedience to the bishop, and praying the Divine Office every day for the rest of my life and the Diocese commits to me. As those who marry commit themselves for the rest of their lives on their day of marriage and then they live that out for the rest of their life, so too shall I live out the commitments made at my diaconal ordination for the rest of my life.”

Diaconate ordination is when life as a cleric of the Diocese of Trenton begins, explained Kerridge, who added, “This will be lived out most fully in the priesthood. On a practical level, my daily life will not change enormously at diaconate ordination.  I will be at a parish in the summer and help out at a parish on weekends during the year, but I will be spending most of next year in seminary just like I have for the last five years. Yet I will be doing this as a cleric of the Diocese of Trenton.”

In his future service as a deacon, Kerridge looks forward to baptizing. “In Baptism, I will be the unworthy channel the Lord uses to pour forth the water from his pierced side upon those to be reborn in Baptism. In Baptism we die with Christ and then rise with Him. In the baptismal font, we receive new life and the forgiveness of sins,” said Kerridge, recognizing the grace in being “the instrument God chooses to work through.”

Kerridge said his diaconate ordination vesting priest will be Father Pablo Gadenz, a priest of the Diocese who serves on the faculty of Mount St. Mary Seminary.

Kerridge will serve his diaconal year assignment in St. James Parish, Red Bank.

Brian Meinders excited to learn from diocesan priests, deacons

By EmmaLee Italia • Contributing Editor

As Brian Meinders approaches his ordination to the transitional diaconate on May 20, he is looking forward to his new liturgical role in ministry.

“It’s exciting to think that I’ll be able to preach at Mass and to celebrate Baptisms, weddings and funerals,” he said. “It’s humbling to be chosen for that service … In the Diocese of Trenton we’re blessed to have so many great priests and deacons, and I’m looking forward to learning from and serving with them.”

The parishioner of St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown, takes very seriously his “tremendously significant step” toward the priesthood.

“Through ordination, we receive an indelible character in our soul which conforms us to Christ,” Meinders pointed out, “which gives us the grace and responsibility to serve God and his Church.”

Born in Lindenwold in 1984 to parents Richard and Luanne Meinders, the future deacon attended Ocean Day School and Lakewood High School, both in Lakewood, graduating from LHS in 2003. He studied political science and psychology from 2003-2005 at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Returning to education in 2018, he began studies in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, and will complete a Master of Divinity degree this month and Master of Arts in theology degree in May 2024.

Summer ministry assignments for Meinders have been in the parishes of Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown; St. John the Baptist, Allentown; St. Pius X, Broomall, Pa.; Holy Family Home, Philadelphia, and St. John the Evangelist, Morrisville, Pa.

Meinders’ prior secular work and volunteering experiences have included being a professional poker player, Latin teacher and coaching chess.

The soon-to-be Rev. Mr. Meinders said that during the Mass of Ordination, he will be vested in the diaconal vestments of a dalmatic and stole by Father Michael Wallack, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish. He will return to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish to serve his diaconal year assignment.

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