Diocesan News

Three Men Ordained as Transitional Deacons, Bringing Them Closer to the Priesthood

(Photo: Ed Wilkinson)

DUNWOODIE, N.Y. — Their native countries may be different, but they all share one dream: to become a Catholic priest.

Thimote Cherelus, Nnamdi Eusebius Eze, and Ernesto Alonso-Aguila took one of their final steps toward priesthood in the Diocese of Brooklyn when they were ordained as transitional deacons by Bishop Brennan on Nov. 5 in the chapel at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie. 

  • The new deacons (from left), Ernesto Alonso-Aguila, Nnamdi Eusebius Eze, and Thimote Cherelus — with (from left) Bishop Joseph Espaillat of New York, and Bishop Brennan and Bishop James Massa of Brooklyn. (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)
  • Ernesto Alonso-Aguila accepts the Book of the Gospels from Bishop Robert Brennan during the ordination ceremony for transitional deacons at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie. (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)
  • Following his ordination as a transitional deacon, Nnamdi Eusebius Eze and his family pose with Bishop Robert Brennan. (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)
  • (Photo: Ed Wilkinson)

Deacon Cherelus, 37, was born in Haiti, where he attended Catholic schools along with his five brothers and one sister. He attended business school and eventually managed his own car wash business.

Believing in the American dream, Deacon Cherelus left his business to one of his brothers and immigrated to Iowa to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.

After graduating, he moved to New York City, and after working there for one year, he decided to pursue the priesthood in the Diocese of Brooklyn. 

“Even though some of my friends cannot understand my desire to become a priest, one priest back home has always been a role model for me in that respect,” he said. “He advises me to pray on my vocation and tells me the best place to discern my vocation is in a seminary.”

Deacon Cherelus said he hopes to especially serve the marginalized and those rejected by society. 

Deacon Eze, who was born in Nigeria, attended Boys High School in Orba, where he developed a deep love for science and mathematics.

“I had always told my friends that I wanted to be a priest so they would not expect me to do everything they do, which is against my faith,” said Deacon Eze. “It was at Boys High School that I met my spiritual director, Father David Omergo, who was our chaplain and supported me spiritually. 

At 14 years old, he became an altar server, serving Mass daily during weekday Masses.

“This was exactly how my vocation evolved, and this has continued to impact my development as a person,” Eze said.

Deacon Alonso-Aguila, 43, is a native of Cuba who immigrated to the United States in 2007. He settled in Astoria, where he became active in St. Joseph’s Parish as a catechist. 

In Cuba, he had attended seminary and decided to further pursue his dream here by enrolling in Pope John XXIII Seminary in Massachusetts.

After the three men were formally presented by Bishop James Massa, the seminary rector, as “worthy” candidates for Holy Orders, Bishop Brennan’s homily spoke about the role of service that deacons perform in the Church community. 

Deacons may baptize, officiate at marriages, and preach at Mass. They also prepare people for the sacraments and perform corporal works of mercy.

The new deacons will complete their fourth year of seminary studies and assist in parishes as they prepare for ordination to the priesthood in the spring within their respective dioceses.

Also ordained were Steven A. McCerndon for the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Collins Mbounya Ashu and Carlos Alfredo Germosen for the Archdiocese of New York.


Reverend Mr. Ernesto Alonso
Transitional Deacon while ministering in the Archdiocese of Boston while remaining in formation at Pope St. John XXIII, National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

Reverend Mr. Thimote Cherelus
Transitional Deacon at Our Lady of Fatima, Jackson Heights, while remaining in formation at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.

Reverend Mr. Nmandi E. Eze
Transitional Deacon at Our Lady of Grace, Howard Beach, while remaining in formaton at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie.