Seminarian Phillip Szabo

By Colleen Rowan
CHARLES TOWN—Seminarian Phillip Szabo will be ordained a transitional deacon by Bishop Mark Brennan at 11 a.m. May 30 at St. James the Greater Parish in Charles Town. There will be limited seating because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, the ordination will be live-streamed on the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s website at and on its Facebook page.
As a transitional deacon, Szabo will spend a year preaching the Gospel and preparing for his ordination to priesthood. And he will begin that ministry June 3 in his summer assignment at St. Thomas Parish in Thomas, and Our Lady of Mercy Mission in Parsons, with Father Timothy Grassi, pastor. Twenty-nine-year-old Szabo is the son of Joseph Szabo and Theresa Michael, and hails from Augusta in the Eastern Panhandle’s Hampshire County. His home parish is Our Lady of Grace in Romney. Szabo attends Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He is also a registered nurse, and attended Fairmont State University.
The process of discerning God’s will for his life has been a great adventure, Szabo said, filled with many challenges and graces.
“My love for God and His Church has grown to heights that I never knew were possible,” he shared. “Although I am still a little fearful about making the three, life-long promises of prayer, celibacy, and obedience on my diaconate ordination day, I nonetheless have a strong and lasting sense of peace in my heart that has been with me ever since I began seminary formation. Truly, God’s peace never lies. We can always be certain that we are doing God’s will when our hearts are filled with a strong and lasting peace that stays with us even during times of struggle. Therefore, after living in this peace for five years of seminary formation, I know for certain that God is calling me to be a priest. Therefore, I am filled with joy as I prepare to take the next step towards priesthood by being ordained to the Order of the Diaconate.”
Father Brian Crenwelge, director of Vocations, said the diocese is receiving a tremendous gift from God in the ordination of Szabo to the diaconate.
“Phillip is truly a man for others who is excited to lay down his life for the people of West Virginia,” Father Crenwelge said. “The diaconate is about being conformed to Christ the Servant, and I know I am joined by many others in my excitement to see Phillip give of himself as a deacon and soon-to-be future priest for our diocese. I look forward to Phillip’s year as a transitional deacon before his ordination to the sacred priesthood.”
Father Crenwelge invited all to join in celebrating this joyful day in the life of the diocese by watching the livestream.
During his ordination to the diaconate, Szabo will promise obedience to the bishop and his successors and take on the vow of celibacy. Once ordained, he will be vested with the stole and dalmatic by Deacon David Galvin, permanent deacon at St. James, and Deacon Larry Hammel, permanent deacon at Assumption of Our Lady Parish in Keyser and Szabo’s home Parish of Our Lady of Grace. These vestments are worn by deacons during liturgies.
Bishop Brennan will then present the Book of the Gospels to him so that he may proclaim the Good News and model his life after Christ. As he presents the Book of the Gospels, the bishop will say to him, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”