Skip to content

Ricky Malebranche to be ordained to the transitional diaconate in Virginia

The 36-year-old George Mason graduate formerly worked in counseling and has studied at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland since 2019.

Ricky Malebrance, a seminarian for the Diocese of Arlington, is seen in an interview with Mount St. Mary's Seminary in fall 2023. (Mount St. Mary's Seminary/YouTube)

Richard “Ricky” Malebranche, an African-American seminarian in the Diocese of Arlington, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate on Saturday morning, the first ordination of the year in the U.S. Black Catholic community. 

The 36-year-old former Catholic school counselor will receive Holy Orders alongside 11 others in a Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Burbidge at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, Virginia. 

Malebranche, a native of Dale City, has studied since 2019 at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, following a call to the priesthood he experienced the previous year. 

“A pivotal moment occurred during my role as an adult crew leader at the Diocesan WorkCamp, where in adoration the Lord unmistakably called me,” he said in comments shared with the Arlington Catholic Herald.

“A few months later, my lingering hesitation faded when I found myself before an image of the Agony of the Garden and the Lord gently reminded me that I needed to let go of my will and let his be done.”

Malebranche is a graduate of George Mason University, where he completed a bachelor’s in information technology, and he earned master’s degrees in counseling at Liberty University and Lamar University.

After working at St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries for five years, Malebranche applied for the seminary in 2018 and later commenced studies in philosophy. He began theological studies in 2021 and has served in summer assignments at St. Louis Catholic Church in Alexandria, Sacred Heart in Winchester, and St. Timothy in Chantilly.

He also completed a Spanish immersion program in Guatemala last year and has been active in diocesan events for vocations and those connected to the Black Catholic community of the Arlington Diocese. The latter has included a prayer service for St. Martin de Porres—Malebranche’s favorite saint—and the annual Black Catholic History Month Mass celebrated in November 2023.

In a November interview with Mount St Mary’s, Malebranche spoke of his excitement for celebrating Mass and the Sacrament of Penance, as well as giving homilies—which will officially be in his orbit as of this weekend.

“I just think confession is going to be awesome and I'm learning the responsibility,” he said, “but I can't wait to preach. I cannot wait to preach. I think that's going to be so much fun.”

He also spoke of brokenness, which learned during seminary is less of a detriment and more of a reminder to learn humility—a virtue Malebranche says he hopes his supporters will pray for him to receive in his ministry.

“The Lord knew who he was calling, and knew what he called you for,” he said. “I beg the Lord that he will always guide everything I say, that I might always be creating perfect images of him through what I say and that I have many years of an awesome priesthood.”

Following his ordination, Malebranche will be assigned to a parish for his diaconate year before an expected ordination to the priesthood in 2025. Saturday’s Mass will begin at 11am ET and a livestream will be available on YouTube and the diocese’s website.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

Want to support the work of BCM? You have options.

a.) click to give (fee-free) on Zeffy

b.) click to give on Facebook