PARSIPPANY Bishop Serratelli ordained 13 men to the Order of Deacon June 5 in St. Peter the Apostle Church here, which was filled to capacity with many diocesan priests and deacons, the families and friends of the new pernament deacons, and the faithful of the Paterson Diocese.
PARSIPPANY Thirteen men were ordained to the Order of Deacon in an ordination liturgy steeped in ceremony and in the rich traditions of the Church in St. Peter the Apostle Church here June 5.
Deacon Richard Pinto of St. Virgil Parish in Morris Plains called forth each of the 13 deacons and on behalf of the entire Church of Paterson, Deacon Peter Cistaro, diocesan director of the permanent diaconate, requested that Bishop Serratelli ordain the candidates for the diaconate. Then, the Bishop asked about their worthiness receiving testimony from Deacon Cistaro. The assembly then expressed its approval with applause.
The Bishop gave his homily addressing the assembly and the elect on the Office of Deacon. Then, following the homily, each candidate stood before the Bishop, who questioned the men on the Office of Deacon. Each candidate made the promise of the elect and declared his intention to be ordained to the diaconate and to fulfill his duties.
After, the candidates prostrated themselves before the altar, symbolizing their humility and dependence on God’s grace. The Bishop invited the assembly to join in praying the Litany of Saints to ask God to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit on these men whom he chosen for the Order of Deacon.
In keeping with the practice of the Apostolic Church, Bishop Serratelli laid hands on the head of each elect to signify the conferral of the Holy Spirit and the commission of service. He asked God to dedicate these men to the service of the Church and to renew the spirit of holiness within them.
After the Prayer of Ordination, the newly ordained were vested with the stole and dalmatic assisted by priests and deacons.
Then, Bishop Serratelli handed on the Book of Gospels to the newly ordained deacons, instructing them to “Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.” After, the Bishop, other deacons and priests gave the newly ordained a fraternal greeting welcoming them into the Order of Deacon.
The 13 permanent deacons — William Aquino of Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Highland Lakes; Nicholas Ardito of Our Lady of the Mountain Parish, Long Valley; John Brandi of Assumption Parish, Morristown; William DeVizio of St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish, Chester; Dennis Gil of St. Francis de Sales Parish in McAfee section of Vernon; James Jones of Our Lady of the Mountain Parish, Long Valley; Vincent LoBello of Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Whippany; James McGovern of Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta; Kevin McKeever of St. Simon the Apostle Parish, Green Pond; Jose Padron of St. Therese Parish, Succasunna; James Rizos of St. Mary Parish, Denville; Elliot Stein of Assumption Parish, Morristown; and German Vargas of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Paterson — bring a wide range of work and ministry experience to the parishes and people they will serve.
In his greeting, Bishop Serratelli said, “We gather with great joy as 13 men will be ordained to the diaconate with service to the Church of Paterson. What a great gift, what a priceless treasure the Lord is giving us tonight. We know from the Acts of the Apostles, that as the Church grew in those first years, the Apostles called worthy men and handed on the gifts of the ministry to them and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit chose those first seven deacons, the Holy Spirit chose these 13 men for that same order. For five years they have been preparing to enter the service of the Church and we thank them for accepting this call and we thank their wives and their families for supporting them.”
Bishop Serratelli was main celebrant and homilist for the Mass and presided over the Rite of Ordination. Concelebrants of the Mass included pastors of the candidates and priests from around the diocese. At the Mass, deacons assisted and many of the newly ordained deacons’ wives took part in the celebration as readers, gift bearers and servers.
In his homily, Bishop Serratelli said, “No matter what our talents are, the dedicated use of what we make of them for a noble purpose matters most. Our brothers who are about to be ordained have many talents that they are now putting to the service of the Church. God has called them to assist in the holy work of offering worthy service to God both in liturgy and in life — both in the sanctuary and the streets of our cities. The dedication required of them is the total gift of self.”
Bishop Serratelli outlined a deacon’s responsibilities — to help the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the Word, the altar and of charity. The deacons are to proclaim the Gospel, to prepare and dispense the Eucharist, to give instruction in holy doctrine, to prepare the Holy Sacrifice and to preside over baptisms, marriages, funerals and public prayer. A deacon also carries out acts of charity in the name of the bishop and pastor, he said.
“Firmly rooted and grounded in faith, you are to show yourselves beyond reproach before God and Man, as is proper for the ministers of Christ and the stewards of God mysteries,” he told the candidates. “Hold the mystery of faith with clear conscience, expressed by your actions the Word of God which your lips proclaim so that the Christian people brought to life by the spirit may be a pure offering accepted by God. Then on the last day when you go to meet the Lord you will be able to hear him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your Lord,’ ” the Bishop told the candidates.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Serratelli thanked all the people who have been instrumental in nurturing the vocations of the 13 deacons, including their parish communities and Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, where the deacons studied. The Bishop also thanked the diocesan diaconate office and Msgr. Robert Diachek, who formerly served as director of deacons. He also thanked those priests who organized the ordination liturgy — Father Kevin Corcoran, vice chancellor and priest secretary to the Bishop; Msgr. Raymond Kupke, diocesan archivist and pastor of St. Anthony Church in Hawthorne; Msgr. Mark Condon, diocesan director of the Office of Worship and Spirituality; and Father Daniel O’Mullane, chaplain at Pope John XIII Regional High School in Sparta, who will begin his new assignment as parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in Montville, on June 29. The Bishop especially thanked the wives, telling them: “Behind every great man is a great woman. I assure you the days ahead in ministry will not be easy. There will certainly be a lot of challenges in living a full family life and the full ministry of the Church. But remember don’t be discouraged — the Holy Spirit has been given to you. God has called you and God will give you the grace to respond.”
This class of pernament deacons is the first to be ordained in the diocese since 2009. After review of the program at the direction of the Bishop, the pernament diaconate program was revised in 2010. The academic requirements of the program were incorporated into Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology’s Program for Diaconal Studies.
The 13 men ordained were the first group to complete the new program. All men received Certificates in Diaconal Studies and nine men, who had bachelor degrees, earned a Masters of Arts in Theology degree.
There are currently 130 permanent deacons serving 74 parishes in the Diocese. The first permanent deacons in the Diocese were ordained in 1974. Since then, about 330 men have been ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Diocese.
At the close of the Ordination Mass, Deacon Peter Cistaro, diocesan director of deacons, thanked the Bishop and said, “Thank you for ordaining our new deacons and for your commitment and support for the diaconate in the diocese.”
To the newly ordained permanent deacons, the Bishop said, “The Acts of Apostles says, as the Word of the Lord continues to spread, the number of disciples increases. That is your mandate. Bring the Word of God from the altar and out into the world. As deacons, immerse yourself in the world — in business, in the marketplace, and even in politics. Bridge the gap between the Church and the world and you will make the Word of God increase and the number of disciples even greater.”