Courtesy Photo Michael Kawash, his wife Jane, and his sons Michael and Timothy, receive a special blessing from Very Rev. Donald X. Higgs, Assoc. V.F., rector of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, at a recent Mass at the basilica. The blessing was bestowed upon the family and Michael has he began his study for the Permanent Diaconate. He is one of 24 aspirants to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. In August, the aspirants began their journey toward ordination as deacons to a ministry of service, assisting the bishop and his priests in many areas, especially in the ministry of charity but also in liturgical celebrations, distributing Holy Communion at Mass, baptizing, witnessing marriages, presiding at some funeral rites, proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. Deacons often teach and counsel as well.