Photo: Jeff Witherow | Catholic Courier

“I’m not doing this for me. I am saying, ‘Yes, Lord, I will serve — help me.'”

A grateful diaconal bow to Deacon Ed Giblin for alerting me to this happy news!
Details from The Catholic Courier: 

Around noontime on Aug. 15, five men emerged from Sacred Heart Cathedral into radiant sunshine with a new, long-awaited designation: Catholic deacon.

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano ordained Deacons Johan Engström, Vincenzo Franco and Roger Loucks as permanent deacons for the Diocese of Rochester, as well as Deacons Steven Lewis and Joseph Maurici as transitional deacons on the path to the diocesan priesthood. The ordination liturgy lasted approximately 90 minutes and took place on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary.

The deacon ordination had originally been scheduled for May 23 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. A limited congregation was on hand at the cathedral Aug. 15 in keeping with current state COVID-19 restrictions on the sizes of public gatherings. However, many more people witnessed the ordination virtually via a livestream provided by the Catholic Courier.

The three new permanent deacons now begin ministerial assignments following nearly five years of formation, during which they studied at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry and gained field experience. Permanent deacons serve 10 hours per week in the parish and community. By virtue of their ordination, they, as well as transitional deacons, serve at the altar, proclaim the Gospel and may preach at Mass, preside at baptisms, witness marriages and officiate at funerals outside of Mass.

Deacon Engström, a native of Sweden, has been assigned by Bishop Matano to minister at St. Pius Tenth Parish in Chili, where he also serves as faith-formation director. He views his entrance into the permanent diaconate as a time “to celebrate service, living a life of service.” He added that he’s looking forward to receiving “the strength and the grace from God to be able to serve him.”

“I’m not doing this for me. I am saying, ‘Yes, Lord, I will serve — help me,’” Deacon Engström said.

Read on. 

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Bishop Matano wrote about the diaconate earlier this month in the newspaper:

It is indeed fitting that we celebrate these diaconate ordinations on the Marian Solemnity of the Assumption. In the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution of the Church entitled Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations), we read that the diaconate is a ministry “dedicated to works of charity,” a ministry of service (no. 29). In serving God’s people, the deacon seeks not his own personal preference for ministry, but rather he goes where he is needed to bring God’s presence to his sisters and brothers. He is called to repeat daily the “Fiat” of Our Mother Mary, “Thy will be done.” His service will bring him to hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, to the poor and alienated, to schools and universities, to parishes and to migrant and refugee communities, all of which culminate in his proclamation of the Gospel and assistance at Holy Mass and the church’s sacramental life. His ministry will only be as effective as is his personal witness to the faith within the community of believers, as well as non-believers. His “I believe” must cause others to say “I, too, believe.”

Imitating the faith and humility of Mary, deacons must be a source of encouragement and support to God’s people, who also serve in so many ways and are deeply devoted to the Most Holy Eucharist: our daily Mass communicants; adorers of the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration; extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; our catechists and youth ministers; those who reach out to the poor, the neglected, the refugees and forgotten; those who have devoted countless hours in service to the gift of life, whether to protect the unborn or to serve and support the newly born child or to comfort the sick, the elderly and the homebound; those who serve the causes of justice and peace and seek an end to violence and prejudices; those who serve in food pantries and the list goes on and on. These wonderful people must be supported by our deacons, who are called to mirror this same dedicated spirit of selflessness, which is the hallmark of charity.

Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!