By Michael Rizzo
QUEENS VILLAGE — Paolo Quaglioni was nervous.
The second-year theology student at the Brooklyn Redemptoris Mater Seminary was about 30 minutes away from a Mass on April 28 at Incarnation Church in Queens Village to receive the ministry of acolyte with two fellow seminarians.
But that nervousness quickly changed to excitement.
“This is confirming my vocation,” the 27-year-old from Piacenza, Italy, said about the conferral of the ministry in front of parishioners from St. Joan of Arc and St. Gabriel, where Quaglioni works with the Neocatechumenal Way communities. “My mission is to go to the people who need Christ. It’s not my strength that does that, it’s the Lord who called me. This step is not about me but the flock of people behind me.”
The ministry of acolyte is a stage seminarians go through before being ordained to the diaconate and, after that, the priesthood. It confers on the candidate his role to assist deacons and priests during the Mass.
Quaglioni came to the Diocese of Brooklyn to pursue the priesthood four years ago. His fellow seminarians receiving the ministry that Friday evening had similar backgrounds. Juan José Luna is from Texas and serves at a parish in the Bronx. Paulo César Oliveira da Mata came from Brazil and serves at a parish in Freeport, N.Y.
Seminarians at the Redemptoris Mater Brooklyn Diocesan Missionary House of Formation, which is housed at Incarnation Parish, will serve the Diocese of Brooklyn as well as be missionaries around the world after their ordination to the priesthood. They follow the Neocatechumenal Way, where parish communities spread education about the faith, develop families in the faith, and promote vocations.
“This is an event in our lives where God speaks to us,” Luna said. “He called us for this and helped us see the service to Him.”
Bishop Robert Brennan said before the Mass that it was a “joyful night” and that most conferrals of this ministry occur inside a seminary. He added it was nice to see this take place in a parish church.
“This is a connection of their service in the liturgy to their service to the body of Christ and His people,” he said.
At a dinner celebration after the Mass for all those who attended, 23-year-old Liam Mullan of St. Joan of Arc said he was there to show Quaglioni the parish’s love for him. “God is doing something fantastic with him,” Mullan said. “It makes me think he’ll do the same with me. Tonight is a big sign from God.”
Emmanuel McKenna, who grew up in Holy Trinity parish, Whitestone, and is now another St. Joan of Arc parishioner, said it means a lot to have Quaglioni at his church.
“His commitment is to the parish,” he said. “God’s really working with him. He’s always there for us.”
Lydia Matthew, an Incarnation parishioner since 1970, was happy she attended the conferral.
“It was beautiful, really emotional,” the 82-year-old said. “Giving the body of Christ, they are showing the strength of their faith.”
New acolytes Quaglioni, Luna, and Oliveira da Mata are expected to conclude their theology studies by the end of this summer. They then will do at least a year of pastoral service before additional studies for the diaconate and priesthood.