Auxiliary Bishop Raymond F. Chappetto ordained two men as transitional deacons on their way to priestly ordination at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Astoria, March 24.
The Rite of Ordination was spoken in four languages – Italian, Vietnamese, English and Spanish – to welcome new deacons, Rev. Mr. Hung Xuan Cao and Rev. Mr. Alessandro Linardi.
The auxiliary bishop addressed the SRO crowd who represented the spiritual family of the men whose families were thousands of miles away – Deacon Cao’s family in Vietnam and Deacon Linardi’s family in Italy.
“To all who are here – the laity, the faithful, the priests, the deacons, the religious, all God’s people gathered together today,” said Bishop Chappetto. “Thank you for what you have done for helping these men hear the call of the Lord and respond generously.”
Bishop Chappetto, a native of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, told the congregation, “To the men to be ordained deacons – the word service is the theme of this celebration. You hear it over and over again. You hear it in the readings, you hear it in the prayers, you hear it in the instruction. It’s all about service. It’s all about following Jesus, it’s not about us. It’s about the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Be devoted, be dedicated to the service of God by serving God’s people. Have no other interest, no other ambition, no other goal only to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.”
High Hopes For the Future
Msgr. Sean Ogle, pastor, said he has high hopes for the two new deacons.
“I hope that they will be good and holy priests,” he said, adding, “that they will put the people first ahead of their own needs or comforts and that they will be responsive to the grace of God in all things, that they’ll be loyal to their bishop and their diocese and that the people of God will do everything possible to support them and enable their diaconal and priestly work to be fulfilling and rich.”
The liturgy was well attended by clergy and seminarians from New York and Connecticut. More than 20 priests, seminarians and religious sisters traveled from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Conn., home of Formation Support for Vietnam, which fosters religious vocations from the Southeast Asian country.
Members of the organization sang Communion hymns in Deacon Cao’s native tongue. Some were from Deacon Cao’s home Diocese of Vinh in central Vietnam.
“His friends can come to support him,” said Holy Apostles second-year theology seminarian Hung Tran. “That is very important.”
Invited priests and deacons also came from St. John Vianney, Flushing, and from Queens Deanery No. 1 composed of Astoria parishes Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Francis Assisi and Immaculate Conception; and Long Island City parishes Most Precious Blood, St. Joseph, St. Mary and St. Rita. Faculty and seminarians from St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers were also in attendance. Masters of ceremony were Fathers Alonzo Cox and Patrick Longalong.
During the ceremony, the deacons publicly declared before the community their lifelong obedience to the Church, charity and celibacy. In the final months before priestly ordination, they will continue serving in a parish for pastoral experience.
Deacon Cao will continue studying at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers until May. In 2016, he started his pastoral year at St. Agatha, Sunset Park. By the end of 2017, Deacon Cao spent his weekends at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. He will continue serving at Our Lady of Mount Carmel until the end of April. Deacon Linardi will continue to serve the community at Immaculate Conception, Astoria.
Ties to Astoria Church
Both have ties to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Deacon Linardi started his pastoral service there in the spring of 2017, while Deacon Cao’s began in fall of 2017.
Msgr. Ogle not only invited the parish community to attend the transitional deacon ordination, but also invited parishioners to pray for the two seminarians as part of his parish’s Year of Vocations initiatives.
“It’s a wonderful thing for the parish to see young men who are pursuing priestly vocation,” said Msgr. Ogle, “because we talk about it a lot, we pray for it, we are even involved in the diocesan year of vocations and when they actually see men that are on that path already. It’s an encouragement to people that their prayers are being answered and also to our young people to really consider what God might have in store for them.”
“The last ordination from the parish was actually Bishop Chappetto,” said Leonard DiVittorio, a life-long member of the parish. “I served his First Mass, his 25th anniversary and we’re planning on his 50th.
“So it’s great to see the new generation coming up. Having it at your own home parish where people can actually see this, especially people who knew them, is encouraging. They’ve done their pastoral work here, both Hung and Alessandro at one time or another. It’s a gift to have the people of the parish see the fruits of these gentleman becoming deacons.”
After the final blessing, all guests were invited to the parish hall to celebrate with international fare – Italian and Polish pastries, sandwiches and coffee. That was where the diocese’s new deacons shared heartfelt words of gratitude.
Deacon Linardi shared a snippet of his conversion story that began 14 years ago.
“Padre Pio started my conversion, thanks be to God,” he said. “Today, I am here with you and I want to say thank you to all of you, especially of course to my family.”
Deacon Cao also thanked his support system in Vietnam, Queens, Brooklyn, Douglaston and Yonkers. He shared words about his humble commitment to the Church.
A Readiness to Service
“As a deacon, my life from this moment on will be defined by a readiness to service,” he said. “I hope and pray that I may be become a better servant each day in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ who called me to follow Him. Thank you all and please do not stop praying for me.”
Two men were also previously ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio last November at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
They all will be ordained to the priesthood in the spring.