It happened Saturday. Bishop James F. Checchio ordained the new deacons at Methuchen’s Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi.
The men are part of the first-ever fully Spanish-speaking class of diaconate candidates to be ordained for service in the Diocese of Metuchen.
“Soon after Bishop Checchio came to our diocese, it became obvious to him as he visited the parishes and heard from pastors that there was a need for Spanish-speaking deacons to serve the growing Catholic Hispanic/Latino population in the diocese,” said Deacon Stephen Kern, director, diocesan Office of the Diaconate. “The number of current deacons who speak Spanish in our diocese is fairly small given our population, so one of the first things the bishop asked me to do was to put together a diaconate formation class of men who speak Spanish.”
According to evangelization statistics: Hispanic Catholics are about 40 percent of the approximately 78 million Catholics in the country; Hispanics account for 71 percent of the growth of the Catholic population in the United States since 1960; and 60 percent of Catholics under the age of 18 are Hispanic.
“Although there is an obvious large Hispanic/Latino presence in parts of the diocese such as Perth Amboy and New Brunswick, there are several parishes in more rural areas that have a significantly sized Hispanic/Latino community. In the deacon’s heart is the urge to serve, but the service that English-only speaking deacons can provide in these parishes is sometimes limited because of the language barrier.”
Deacons are ordained ministers who proclaim the Gospel and preach. As ministers of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs.
The following men, who will be ordained to the permanent diaconate for service in the Diocese of Metuchen, are listed by name below along with their home parish:
– Ysidro Abreu, St. Joseph, North Plainfield
– William Chirinos, Mary, Mother of God, Hillsborough
– Jose R. Diaz, Our Lady of Fatima, Perth Amboy
– Sergio Diaz, Our Lady of Fatima, Perth Amboy
– Richard Ferreira, St. Matthew the Apostle, Edison
– Paul Flor, St. Philip and St. James, Phillipsburg
– German Gonzalez, St. John Paul II, Perth Amboy
– Vidal Gonzalez Zelaya, St. Joseph, Carteret
– Francisco Jaurides, St. Philip and St. James, Phillipsburg
– Jose Fritz Molina, Most Holy Name of Jesus, Perth Amboy
– Hernando Patino, St. Magdalen de Pazzi, Flemington
– Freddy Perez Sena, Most Holy Name of Jesus, Perth Amboy
– Pedro Sanchez Duval, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, New Brunswick
– Jose Suarez Aular, Parish of the Visitation, New Brunswick
– Ubaldo Valdez, Most Holy Name of Jesus, Perth Amboy
UPDATE: Late Saturday, I got this email from the Metuchen deacon director, Deacon Steve Kern:
The cathedral was packed, many of us non-Hispanic/Latino clergy (including bishop) spoke in Spanish for the rite, and every heart in the place was filled with joy and hope. This is a very spiritual group of men, and I am thrilled at the thought of the years (decades?) of service they will provide to the good people of our diocese. In his homily, bishop stated that two essential qualities for a deacon are generosity of heart and a deep, deep love for Christ and His Church. These men, I am certain, have that.
Congratulations, brothers! Felicidades and welcome!
Ad multos annos!