Twelve newly ordained deacons, vested in their stoles and dalmatics, receive the traditional embraces from bishops, priests and the dozens of deacons at the Mass during the Sign of Peace. (See Photo Gallery by Jack Sheedy here.)
HARTFORD – About 1,000 friends and family members attended the ordination of 12 men to the permanent diaconate at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on June 4. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell was the ordaining prelate. Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin, Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza concelebrated the Mass, as did dozens of priests.
"We give thanks to you for the tremendous gifts you bring and the sacrifices you have made," the archbishop told the candidates in his homily. He reminded them that Acts Chapter 6 records the choosing by the apostles of the Church’s first deacons and that significant contributions have been made to the Church by deacons down through the centuries. Some remarkable deacons included Saint Lawrence, Saint Ephrem and Saint Francis of Assisi, he said.
As Deacon Robert M. Pallotti, director of th archdiocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate, called each candidate forward, the candidate presented himself before the seated archbishop and said, "Present." Father Aidan Donahue, director of diaconate formation, recited the prescribed text: "Most Reverend Father, holy mother Church asks you to ordain these men, our brothers, to the responsibility of the diaconate."
The archbishop asked, "Do you know them to be worthy?"
Father Donahue said, "After inquiry among the people of Christ and upon recommendation of those responsible, I testify that they have been found worthy."
The archbishop said, "Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these our brothers for the order of the diaconate."
Everyone replied, "Thanks be to God." Applause then filled the cathedral.
The actual moment of ordination occurred a few minutes later, as the archbishop laid his hands on each candidate’s head and prayed silently. Each was then invested with a dalmatic, worn over the alb, and a stole. The stole is worn diagonally, over the left shoulder.
"There’s an apocryphal story that deacons wore it sort of pinched off to the side so they could reach over and minister to the poor without dirtying their stole in the street," Deacon Pallotti said later, in jest. "I think it’s just to distinguish the fact that they are called to orders, and they do receive orders, but it’s distinct from the shepherd’s stole, which is what the priest wears."
Archbishop Mansell announced each new deacon’s first assignment:
Deacon Robert Joseph Barry, vested by Father Lawrence Bock, pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Newington, will serve at St. Patrick Parish in Farmington. Deacon Salvatore Francis Fusco, vested by Father Waine Kargul, pastor of Mary Our Queen Parish in Plantsville, will be assigned at a later date. Deacon Alan Albert Germain, vested by Father John Gwozdz of St. Augustine Parish in South Glastonbury and St. Paul Parish in Glastonbury, will serve at St. James and Assumption Parishes in Manchester.
Deacon Peter Richard Hyde, vested by Father Robert Tucker, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Litchfield, will serve at the Roman Catholic Cluster of Parishes in Torrington. Deacon Edward Kwokn Kensah, vested by Father John Rohan, pastor of the linked East Hartford parishes of St. Isaac Jogues, St. Mary and St. Rose, will serve there. Deacon Robert Allen Magnuson, vested by Father Daniel J. McLearen, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in New Haven, will serve at St. Mary Parish in Milford.
Deacon John Francis Mordecai, vested by Father Gene E. Gianelli, pastor of Church of the Assumption in Woodbridge, will serve at that parish. Deacon Stephen Lawrence Savarese, vested by Father Robert Kwiatkowski, pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Woodbury, will serve at St. John of the Cross Parish in Middlebury. Deacon Mark Stevens, vested by Father Mark Suslenko, administrator of Sacred Heart-Sagrado Corazon Parish in Waterbury and pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Prospect, will serve at St. Bridget Parish in Cheshire.
Deacon Henry Joseph Szumowski, vested by Father George Couturier, pastor of St. Dunstan Parish in Glastonbury, will serve at St. Catherine Parish in Broadbrook and St. Philip Parish in East Windsor. Deacon James Francis Tanguay, vested by Father Dennis J. Vincenzo, administrator of St. John of the Cross Parish in Middlebury, will serve at St. Mary Parish in Newington. Deacon Richard Joseph Wisniewski, vested by Msgr. Thomas M. Ginty, pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Forestville, will serve at St. Stanislaus Parish in Bristol.
"We’re really blessed," said Trudy Michaud of Wallingford, Deacon Mordecai’s aunt. "He’s a wonderful person, a wonderful father of triplets and another daughter, with a marvelous wife and a wonderful family."
Kristie Sargent, a teacher at St. Christopher School in East Hartford, where Deacon Tanguay also teaches, said, "I’m proud of him. I know it’s a lot of work for the family, a lot of sacrifice. He has a full-time job and he has two children."
Mary Foyt is Deacon Barry’s first cousin. She first heard her cousin talk about the diaconate during a family reunion seven years ago.
"His younger brother is also in formation for the diaconate in Massachusetts, the Worcester Diocese, so that’s when I heard my two cousins talking about it." She said it meant a lot because her husband, Deacon Frank Foyt, serves in the Diocese of Bridgeport. "It didn’t surprise me," she said; "our faith in our Church was always a big part of our lives."
Deacon Foyt said he spoke with Mr. Barry four years ago, when Mr. Barry was in his first year of formation. "He was not anxious to get ordained. He was anxious to get formed. It was very interesting. You know, most of us are waiting to get out the in door, and Bob was not so much anxious about that as he was about making sure that he was ready to be out there."
Deacon Foyt explained the sacramental aspects of the ordination: "There are three levels of Holy Orders. There’s the episcopacy; the presbyterate, which is the priesthood; and the diaconate. And if you read the Vatican II document, it says the diaconate exists on a lower level of the orders, but it’s still a sacrament."
Deacon Pallotti said there are about 195 permanent deacons in the archdiocese, of which about 150 are active and the rest retired but available for service. Diaconate ordinations occur every two years in the archdiocese, he said.
As members of the clergy, deacons take part in the liturgy but do not celebrate Mass, he said. "Many of them can be involved in their RCIA programs in the parish. They visit hospitals to minister to the sick and to bring communion. Some of them work in our prison system as chaplains. Some work in campus ministry in our colleges. Many of them are involved in marriage preparation in their parishes."
They may also preach, baptize and work in social ministries.
"There’s a whole lot of things we can do," he said.