Deacon Dennis Dorner, the director of the permanent diaconate, said after five years of classwork and practical hands-on work in parishes and ministries, the men now are charged to go out to be with the poor and the disenfranchised.
“I shared with them as I have with every class, be present. Sometimes that is the most important thing we can do. Pray daily for wisdom and humility. On a very practical level be sure to work at maintaining balance in your life,” he said in an email.
Deacon Dorner, who was ordained in 2004, said the important work done by deacons must always be balanced with their first priority to their family.
The day after their ordination, the men wore the stole of the deacon diagonally across their chest and gave their first homilies in front of friends, family and parishioners at their home churches. Deacon Mike Chernick said, “I felt like I was walking on air.”
Deacon Chernick, 64, is a science teacher at Holy Spirit Prep, Atlanta, so he assists at Mass in front of students, along with liturgies at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta. His students started to call him “Deacon Mike.”
The classroom is his second career. Deacon Chernick is an engineer by profession. While many of his peers are thinking of retirement, he said he loved the idea of teaching high schoolers. He taught for a couple years at Fulton County schools, through the COVID pandemic. The tasks to both teach and respond to the virus reinforced for him how teaching is as much a vocation as it is a job, he said.
Standing in front of the classroom he loves to be a “science person and a deacon.” He answers questions, highlighting the church’s position and what science reveals, without feeling any unease, he said. With the natural world, he said, “there is nothing random. It’s only we don’t understand. God has a plan.”
And learn more about the men ordained here.
Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!