“You are a gift to us and the Church”
RIDGEWOOD — Following his family’s footsteps in service to the Church, seminarian Brendon John Harfmann was ordained a transitional deacon on May 15 and will continue his path to priesthood. Auxiliary Bishop Raymond F. Chappetto was the main celebrant of the Ordination to the Diaconate, held at Harfmann’s home parish, St. Matthias in Ridgewood, Queens.
As a transitional deacon, Harfmann can proclaim the gospel, prepare the sacrifice, and distribute Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood to the faithful — as well as preside over public prayer, administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, bring viaticum to those dying, and conduct funeral rites.
“Never allow yourself to be turned away from the hope offered by the gospel,” Bishop Chappetto instructed Harfmann during the homily. “Now, you are not only a hearer of this gospel but also its minister.”
Bishop Chappetto remarked how Harfmann had observed priests growing up, including his uncles Father John G. Harfmann, SSJ, and Deacon James Hynes.
“Now, it will be quite different,” Bishop Chappetto continued. “You will be ministering at the altar. You will be preaching God’s holy word. You will be a minister of the sacraments. You will grow in your appreciation of priestly ministry while serving as a deacon in ways that you have never experienced before.”
Harfmann said he was honored to have been ordained at St. Matthias.
“Not very often do ordinations take place in parishes, so to return back to my home parish was incredibly moving,” he said. “That’s where my uncle had baptized me, where I received my first communion, and where Bishop DiMarzio confirmed me with my uncle as my sponsor.”
Towards the end of the Mass, Auxiliary Bishop Neil Tiedemann, pastor of St. Matthias Church, spoke at the pulpit. He mentioned how the parish celebrated its patron saint’s feast day on May 14 and that the name “Matthias” means “God’s gift.”
“Priesthood, diaconate, service in the church is a gift,” Bishop Tiedemann said. “Brendon, you are a gift to us and to the Church.”
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has assigned Harfmann to serve at St. Finbar Church in Bath Beach.
“There’s nothing more that I feel the Lord is calling me to do than to be a priest in Brooklyn,” Harfmann said. “When I’m in the midst of classes and still at the seminary, St. Finbar will definitely be in my mind, my heart, and my prayers.”
Among the socially distant crowd for the occasion were dozens of deacons, priests, seminarians, as well as Harfmann’s family and friends.
“It’s a joyous day to be with family and to celebrate a vocation that is so very much needed in our diocese and throughout our city and world,” said Brendon’s father Lawrence after the Mass.
Lawrence and his wife, Kim, got married at St. Matthias, and their three children — Timothy, Brendon, and Kaitlin — graduated from the parish’s elementary school. Brendon also served as an altar boy and taught religious instruction at the church years ago.
“It’s like coming home and coming back to his roots,” Lawrence said. “That’s important for love of community, love of family, love of God, and particularly, love of faith.”
Harfmann credits his education at St. Matthias for planting the seeds for his vocation. His former elementary school teacher and principal Barbara Wehnes recalled how Harfmann always possessed a sense of service and ministry.
“His commitment not only to the parish and his ministry but his dedication to staying connected to the School Sisters of Notre Dame [who taught at St. Matthias School], are really very unique things in my mind,” Wehnes said. “We’re just so proud and happy for him that he’s been able to carry on, especially this past year.”
Harfmann later graduated from Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Elmhurst, where his vocation was nurtured and strengthened. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and theology from Saint John’s University while residing at the Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston.
Harfmann’s assignments as a seminarian have included St. Michael Church in Sunset Park and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria. Harfmann will continue his studies at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.