Some happy news from the diocese of the Happiest Place on Earth: 14 new deacons were ordained by Bishop John Noonan for the Diocese of Orlando on Saturday at the Basilica of Mary Queen of the Universe.
The new deacons are:
Daniel J. Bassile; Nelson Cruz; Dominick Delio; David Engasser; Nelson García; James Lucas; Peter McCarthy; Noel Oteyza; Elbert Pagan; Peter Pronko IV; Steven Ramos; Raymond Sakowski; David Sorondo; and Samuel Velez.
One of the candidates, José (Chepe) Perez, could not be ordained because he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the ordination. Deacon Dave Camous, Director of Permanent Deacons in Orlando, tells me they are both on the mend and the bishop hopes to ordain him soon.
From Bishop Noonan’s homily on Saturday:
You have been formed by God and His Word, which you are to preach, teach and live as gift through your daily life of prayer. The grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders will configure your heart to Christ so that your life, ministry and service will be conformed to Christ. Pope Francis reminds us that the world of self-centeredness, individualism, careerism and clericalism has no place in the life of ministry in the Church. Be aware that your identity comes not from your title as deacon or from your ministry, but from your relationship with Jesus Christ. You are to become servants of God. This relationship is one of love, lived out in your love for your wife, your family and your sisters and brothers.
Jeremiah the Prophet reminds us, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I dedicated you.” You were formed in the image and likeness of God. At Baptism, you were dedicated to know, love and serve the Lord. In your ministry you must focus on God’s precious gift of human life and our responsibility to care for, protect and defend all human life. Preach the Gospel of Life inspired by St. Pope John Paul II, that all life is sacred from the unborn to the elderly, from the person with disabilities to the marginalized.
You have been in formation for six years or more. St. Paul in his Letter to 1 Timothy 3:8-13 spells out the qualities of a deacon; good character, be sincere, do not drink too much, or be overly greedy for money, be faithful to the Gospel, have a clear conscience. You are ordained not for the liturgy alone, but for service to the needs of the people; you are the visible sign of the connection between the Gospel message and our responsibility to look after our brothers and sisters in need. As deacons you are to have a special relationship with your bishop. He is your spiritual father. You are also to have a special relationship with priests who are your brothers in Christ. These same qualities apply to priests as well as bishops in their ministry. All ordained in Holy Orders are all called into a relationship with the Trinity of persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From this relationship we must grow and foster a true missionary and apostolic spirit of service to all God’s people.
Deacon James Keating (former Director of Theological Formation at the Institute for Priestly Formation) reminds us, “it is God’s power – not our efforts – that ‘makes things happen.’” It is God’s power that must occupy the core effectiveness of a deacon’s mission.” St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, wrote in her diary, “I knew that the Church had a heart and that such a heart appeared to be aflame with love. I knew that one love drove the members of the Church to action, that if this love were extinguished, the apostles would have proclaimed the Gospel no longer, the martyrs would have shed their blood no more. I saw and realized that love sets off the bounds of all vocations, that love is everything, that this same love embraces every time and every place. In one word, that love is everlasting.” We say that God is love–this is the God you must embrace in your life and ministry.
Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!