BLOOMFIELD – Four men were ordained transitional deacons for the Archdiocese of Hartford in the chapel at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary on Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Archbishop Leonard P. Blair celebrated the rite of ordination for seminarians Matthew Gworek, Patrick Kane, Philip O'Neill and Philip Schulze. The transitional diaconate is a step in their journey toward ordination to the priesthood, to take place in May.
“Holy Orders of the Diaconate is a call to be builders of the Body of Christ in the serving of others,” said the archbishop, who observed that the ordination was being held at the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis.
Reflecting on the theme of “lowliness” modeled by figures in the story of Christmas, he told the four candidates, “Today, like Mary, you are saying yes to God in humility and service.
“Matthew, Philip, Patrick and Philip, to the extent that you open yourselves to Christ and his grace of ordination, you will experience humility and service in new ways that will render your ministry fruitful,” said Archbishop Blair.
“As deacons, serve the people in love and joy as you would the Lord,” he challenged.
The seminarians were presented to the archbishop by Father Jeffrey A. Gubbiotti, director of vocations. During the rite of ordination, the ordinands declared their intentions and promised respect and obedience to Archbishop Blair and his successors.
During a Litany of Supplication, they prostrated themselves before the altar. Then, in the most solemn gesture of the rite, Archbishop Blair silently laid his hands on the head of each of the elect, signifying that the gift of the Holy Spirit was conferred upon them.
The newly ordained were vested with their stoles and dalmatics and received the Book of Gospels. Deacon Gworek was vested by Father Nicholas P. Melo; Deacon Kane, by his father, Deacon Joseph K. Kane, who serves at St. Joseph and St. Peter parishes in New Britain; Deacon O'Neill, by Msgr. Jeremiah F. Kenney; and Deacon Schulze, by Father Michael A. Santiago.
Enthusiasm was palpable as the ordinands processed into the chapel and sat in the front rows with family and friends.
“It’s an amazing day,” said Lynne Gworek, mother of Deacon Gworek, and a member of St. Thomas Parish in Southington. “He’s worked so hard for it. We’re very honored to have a son who will be entering the priesthood.”
Deacon Kane’s mother was also moved by the ceremony. “It’s an overwhelming day … a very joyful day,” said Jean Kane, who sat with one of her four sons and three of her 11 grandchildren.
“It’s a blessing,” said Lisa O'Neill, Deacon O'Neill's mother, who flew in from Japan, where she teaches for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, to witness the ordination of her son. “We’re so proud of Philip.”
The new transitional deacons were also moved.
“I’m just overwhelmed with emotions today,” said Deacon Kane. “In addition to my family and friends, it’s great to have so many classmates who came up from Florida to be here,” he said, noting that 12 classmates and four priests made the trip from his seminary in Florida.
Deacon O'Neill said he felt called to his vocation while attending college. “It’s so incredible. You can really feel the Spirit moving.”
“It’s a fulfillment of a call from God,” stated Deacon Gworek, who also decided to follow the call to the priesthood in college at the University of Connecticut. “That’s where I really felt the call to this life of serving God and his people here in Connecticut.”
Deacon Schulze said his late vocation calling came in 2008 after he'd traveled the world for his job.
“It was just a change in feelings toward what I had been doing – running corporate real estate for UBS private banking for the Western Hemisphere,” he said. “I was seeking a progression. I had no interest in retirement. So this is great … knowing that you’re in the right place.”
Principal concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus Henry J. Mansell, Auxiliary Bishop Christie A. Macaluso, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza and Father Steven C. Boguslawski, moderator of the curia and vicar general.
They were joined by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop of the Military Services USA. He oversees the co-sponsoring seminarian program for Deacon O'Neilll.
After the ordination, the transitional deacons were scheduled to return to their seminaries to complete pre-ordination studies. Deacon Gworek attends The Catholic University of America’s Theological College in Washington, D.C.; Deacon Kane attends St. Vincent de Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Fla.; Deacon O'Neill attends Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.; and Deacon Schulze attends Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass.