SOUTHINGTON – Permanent deacons from the Archdiocese of Hartford and their wives gathered to celebrate their vocation at the 18th annual diaconate convocation on July 27 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair offered a blessing and presented pins to deacons who marked 10, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service, including Deacon George Hajjar, who marked 40 years as a deacon and prison chaplain.
Deacon Robert M. Pallotti, director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, said that the gathering provides an opportunity to honor the long service of deacons and to say “thank you” to their wives, who were given roses.
Currently, the archdiocese has 255 deacons; about 50 of them are inactive and 45 are retired yet remain in active ministry. However, Deacon Pallotti noted that with the expected retirement of 50 deacons in the next four years and the retirement of another 25 deacons over the following two years, the archdiocese is beginning to look at a shortage of active deacons in the program.
The archdiocese expects to ordain about half as many deacons in the next five years as the number who will be retiring, he said.
“It’s a big commitment,” Deacon Pallotti said. It requires five years of formation, under the direction of Father Aidan N. Donahue, that start every other year.
Among requirements for the diaconate are that a candidate must be between ages 35 and 60; be recommended by his pastor; be in parish ministry for at least five years; be gainfully employed; have a potential for pastoral leadership, a desire to grow spiritually and a capacity for study; and if married, be married for at least five years.
Prior to the convocation, deacons joined Archbishop Blair for an Evening of Prayer at Mary Our Queen Church in the Plantsville. section of Southington.
Deacon Tim Healy, who serves as deacon at St. Ann Parish in Avon and as a chaplain at Hartford Hospital, appreciated the archbishop’s presence.
“We had some time to spend with him before the dinner and were delighted with his support for us as fellow clergymen and deacons,” he said. “We came away from it encouraged by his support for us and for the archdiocese.”
Deacon Healy also is grateful for his vocation.
“As far as I’m concerned, the diaconate is pure privilege,” he said.
Besides honoring Deacon Hajjar, Archbishop Blair presented pins to deacons celebrating the following anniversaries:
35 years, Deacons Calvin Croll, Patrick Mahoney and James Taylor;
30 years, Deacons Roger Albert, Domingo Delgado, Seth English, Edward Giard, Frank Gluhosky and Leonard Lewandoski;
25 years, Deacons Neil Culhane, Henry Doyle, Adam Michaele, Vincent Thorney and Ralph Rescildo;
20 years, Deacons Robert Bernd, John Conte, Carmelo Guzzardi, Peter Klimanowski, R. Carl Lickwar, John Lovett, Barry Skipp and Joseph Sloan;
10 years, Deacons James Arena, Victor Bilbraut, Richard Boucher, Michael Cassella, Emil Croce, Kenneth Ewaskie, Emilo Gonzalez, Joseph Guzauckas, Robert Macaluso, Julio Maturana, Joseph Mazurek, Arthur Miller, Ossa Tullio, James Papillo, David Reynolds, Richard Santos and Stephen Yatcko.