BLOOMFIELD – Ten candidates took a formal step toward the permanent diaconate on Nov. 24, when they were instituted to the Ministry of Acolyte in the chapel at St. Thomas Seminary.
Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, vicar general, was the principal celebrant. Father Aidan N. Donahue, director of formation for the Archdiocese of Hartford’s Office of the Diaconate, concelebrated.
Installation in the Ministry of Acolytes is a final step for the candidates, who are expected to be ordained as permanent deacons in June by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford.
The Office of the Diaconate’s formation program is a five-year commitment consisting of an initial year of intense discernment and study, followed by four years of formation at the human, spiritual, academic and pastoral levels. Classes meet weekly during September through June, and the course of study includes retreats, days of reflection and workshops. Throughout the process, candidates must also balance family life and their careers.
There is only one Sacred Order of Deacons within the church. Some deacons, who are in the process of being ordained to the priesthood, are called transitional deacons.
The holy order of deacons comprises men who are ordained clergy and who serve in various ministries of the word, liturgy and charity and justice. Those ministries include serving during Mass; proclaiming the Gospel and, at times, preaching; officiating at wakes and funerals; witnessing marriages; bringing viaticum to the dying; solemnly baptizing; being an ordinary minister of holy Communion; promoting charity; and advancing social justice.
The new acolytes are Brian Armstrong, James Blanchette, Robert Carter, Dominic Corraro, William Dziatko, Philip Gosselin Michael Lynch, Angelo Moriello, Paul Robert and Norris Taylor.
Their wives and children, family members, pastors and parish friends joined them for the intimate and joyous liturgy and reception. Wives are recognized by the Office of the Diaconate as an integral part of the formation program. They are supported through a program that offers retreats and academic and social opportunities at every phase.
Bishop Macaluso welcomed the candidates and guests on behalf of Archbishop Leonard P. Blair and all the people of the archdiocese. He thanked those present, especially the wives, who have supported the candidates on their journeys of faith and asked God’s favor and blessing on them as they approach the last step toward ordination.
After the Liturgy of the Word, Father Donahue called the candidates forward.
Bishop Macaluso challenged the candidates to recognize and overcome the “great paradox” that often lies in being called, answering the call and then wondering whether you are worthy.
“We find many called by God throughout Scripture who came up with all manner of excuses and doubts,” he said. “Let me go if I cannot speak; I am too young, etc.
“Ironically,” he said about Saint Paul and Saint Luke, “it was to two such as these that the Lord issued his call. It was not who they were, but who they could become.
“So my brothers, listen carefully to the charge. If the words and the charge make you feel uneasy and aware of your inadequacies, that’s as it should be. So it was with Paul.
“Don’t put off living the charge until you have everything put together, until you have the confidence, until you’re well prepared, until you have the time, because then it simply won’t happen.”
Before conferring the formal rite, he told them, “Hear the charge, feel inadequate, tremble as Paul did and confidently continue your journey.” Deacon Robert M. Pallotti, director of the diaconate, spoke with The Transcript about the men in this class and about the program. He said that he and Father Aidan have been with this group since they entered the program. He said things have gone well with this class of 10, all of whom have remained in the program from the start.
Father Edmund S. Nadolny of Bloomfield had recommended Mr. Blanchette for the program when he was pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in East Berlin.
Father Nadolny said Mr. Blanchette is above all a good husband and a good father. “Look at his life; he was a policeman at one time and now with the Department of Children and Families, he’s helping the poorest of the poor. His secular work is really spiritual work, a perfect fit.”
And about the support, love and dedication the family has to provide, Father Nadolny said, “behind every successful deacon is a supportive wife.”
Dominic Corraro mingled with fellow acolytes at the reception with his wife, son and daughter.
“It is a blessing. You can’t describe the feeling of the blessing; it is an overwhelming feeling,” he said. Dominic’s son, also Dominic, said, “I think it’s cool that he’s able to do something he’s always wanted to do. Not a lot of people are vocal about their faith.”
Diaconate assignments will be made by Archbishop Blair shortly before ordination, with assignments made according to archdiocesan needs. Information about the Office of the Diaconate and the formation program can be found at http://archdioceseofhartford.org/office-of-the-diaconate.