ROCHESTER — The Holy Spirit’s presence could be felt at Sacred Heart Cathedral June 2, as Bishop Matthew H. Clark ordained seven men to the diaconate, according to one of the newly ordained.
“It’s wonderful to … feel the Holy Spirit moving in a very real way,” said Deacon Dennis Lohouse, who with his wife, Barbara, belongs to the Cathedral Community. “It’s a confirmation of a calling.”
The ordination liturgy marked the conclusion of four years of study and formation for him and permanent Deacons Emmanuel Asis, Robert Corsaro, Robert Emerton, Walter Toot and Daniel Williams. For transitional Deacon Edison Tayag, the event was a stepping stone toward his ordination to the priesthood, which is scheduled to take place next spring, Bishop Clark noted during the liturgy.
“We come here today with love for these seven men and with deep gratitude for their devotion,” Bishop Clark said. “These are humble, serving, loving men who want nothing more than to make available to the people of God those treasures which they bear in their hearts. Those treasures are the fruits of the Holy Spirit.”
Bishop Clark encouraged the congregation to pay close attention to the many symbolic gestures and actions they would observe during the ordination liturgy.
“Let your senses be alive to what flows here. It’s a wonderful chance for renewal, not only for those who are to be ordained, but for all of us who have the privilege of being part of it,” he said. “Immerse yourselves in what we will be doing. God’s Holy Spirit is with you, no less than with those who will be ordained today.”
The diaconal candidates lined up before Bishop Clark at three different times during the liturgy. One by one they knelt at his feet. Bishop Clark took each man’s hands in his own while each pledged his obedience to the bishop and his successors, laid his hands on their heads and prayed over them, and presented each with a Book of the Gospels.
“Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose bearer you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach,” Bishop Clark said as he handed them the books.
After pledging their obedience, the candidates prostrated themselves on the cathedral floor as the congregation joined in a sung Litany of the Saints. This portion of the liturgy was particularly moving for Deacon Emerton and Deacon Williams.
“It’s utterly unreal. When prostrating before the altar, it’s incredible to hear the sound reverberating right on through you. It’s a very spiritual experience,” said Deacon Emerton, who with his wife, Karen, belongs to St. Matthew Parish in Livonia.
“I thought I would be sort of an emotional wreck … but I was listening to these saints’ names being sung over my head, and … an incredible sense of peace came over me,” said Deacon Williams, who with his wife, Sandra, belongs to St. Gabriel Parish in Hammondsport.
After each deacon was vested with a stole and a dalmatic — an outer garment with open sides — and received the Book of the Gospels, Bishop Clark gave a greeting of peace and a hug to each. He was joined by the dozens of deacons present at the ordination, who lined up to greet and welcome the newest members of their ranks. Looking at the faces of his classmates, Deacon Williams saw there the same recognition and awe that he felt.
“All of a sudden I’ve realized I’ve truly become configured to Christ in service,” explained Deacon Corsaro, who with his wife, Suzan, belongs to St. Joseph Parish in Penfield. “My heart right now is just filled with joy.”
Deacon Toot also described the ordination as a “joyous” event.
“It’s a very amazing feeling to be in front of the bishop and in front of the community,” said Deacon Toot, who with his wife, Mary, belongs to Holy Cross Parish in Charlotte.
During the ordination, each deacon stood before the bishop and the community and confirmed his willingness and readiness to dedicate his live to the service of God’s people. Deacon Asis said he had been looking forward to making that promise.
“The Lord has been showing me that I have to serve him,” said Deacon Asis, who with his wife, Zenny, belongs to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Greece. “He called me, and I pursued the formation program to serve him more.”
The ordination stirred feelings of relief and excitement in Deacon Lohouse, who said it was incredible to be in the presence of so many loving, supportive people. Bishop Clark acknowledged that sentiment in his homily, when he thanked the new deacons’ family members and friends.
“You are anything but passive observers of something I do to other people. You are actively engaged in making this moment possible by your support, by your prayers,” Bishop Clark said.
Deacon Tayag said he was overwhelmed with gratitude for the support he’s received from the parish communities that he has called home during his time in America. A native of the Philippines, Deacon Tayag has been welcomed by St. Vincent DePaul Parish in Churchville, St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Watkins Glen, Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Greece and St. Mary Parish in Auburn, where he recently served his pastoral year.
“I have been telling people it is their prayer that keeps me pursuing down the path that I am on,” he said. “I owe it all to them.”