Excitement reigned as 18 permanent deacons and one transitional deacon were ordained May 25 at St. Joseph’s Co- Cathedral, Brooklyn, by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
Bishop DiMarzio was excited to have more clergy to minister in parishes in Brooklyn and Queens. Friends and families were excited to see their loved ones receive Holy Orders. And the new deacons expressed excitement as they prepared to assume their new roles in the Church.
Bishop DiMarzio reminded the new clergy- men that their role “is to serve, and not to be served.” He said they were to be ministers of the Words and to engage in acts of charity.
“Serve the People of God in love and joy,” he urged.
He also praised the sacrifice of the new deacons’ families and explained that deacons’ wives “will help you. This is a team effort.”
After five years of preparation, eight of the new deacons and two of their wives earned masters degrees in Theology.
He also pointed out that many different language groups represented among those ordained.
“This is what Brooklyn is all about,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “It’s diversity in unity.”
Joining the auxiliary bishops of the Diocese in the sanctuary was visiting Bishop Gregorio Pena Rodriguez from the Dominican Republic. His niece, Anilda, is the wife of newly ordained Deacon Danny Rodriguez.
The new deacons began the liturgy seated with their families. They were then called by name from the pews to the sanctuary.
Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, Vicar General, declaring that these men have been found worthy of ordination after extensive preparation, presented the class to Bishop DiMarzio.
The Bishop then accepted those to be ordained. One by one they knelt before him, clasping his hands and promising obedience and faithfulness to Bishop DiMarzio and his successors.
“Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?” asked Bishop DiMarzio. After the deacons say, “I do,” he responded, “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”
The candidates then lied prostrate in the sanctuary as the entire congregation prayed the Litany of Saints. After the prayer, they once again individually approached Bishop DiMarzio who laid his hands on their heads, the traditional sign of ordination.
Each was then vested with the stole and dalmatic, the vestments of the diaconate office, by a priest or deacon of their choice.
Bishop DiMarzio then presented each with the book of the Gospels, saying “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
After Bishop DiMarzio welcomed each new deacon with the sign of peace, all the deacons present came forward to congratulate their new brothers in ministry.
Only one deacon, the Rev. Mr. Peter Y. Okajima made a promise of celibacy because he will continue his studies toward becoming a priest.
After Mass, the deacons were greeted by families and friends outside the Co- Cathedral.
“I’m feeling excited,” said Deacon John Hardy, who will serve at Resurrection parish in Gerritsen Beach. “I can’t wait to get started. I’m ready to do whatever is needed in the parish.”
Deacon Hardy said that as a youngster he thought about becoming a priest but instead married. He and his wife, Linda, have been married for 35 years and raise three daughters. But he said that after his retirement from the stock market, he spent a lot of time helping out around the church. He credits his former pastor, the late Father Dennis Farrell, for encouraging him to become a deacon.
Deacon Gerard Devine, who will serve in his home parish of Holy Name, Windsor Terrace, said he was both “elated and humbled” by his ordination.
“I’ll serve the people in whatever way is needed,” he said.
While the long period of preparation was difficult at times, he said that he was happy to learn so much about the Church.
Deacon Michael Fogarty, who has been assigned to St. Andrew Avellino, Flushing, said he hoped to continue serving in the parish’s homeless ministry but was ready to help in whatever way he is needed.
Deacon Bill Velasquez has been assigned to St. Mary Gate of Heaven, Ozone Park, where the pastor is also named Velasquez.
“I’m ready to serve the parish in whatever way he wants to do,” smiled Deacon Velasquez.
After Bishop DiMarzio handed out the assignments to the new deacons, he smiled and quipped, “Now, get to work!”