Ordination was emotional experience, deacons say - Catholic Courier

Ordination was emotional experience, deacons say

ROCHESTER — May 30 was a memorable day full of joy, humility and exhilaration for Thomas J. Behe, James A. Carra, Robert J. Colomaio, Dennis R. Donahue, David S. Squilla and William Craig Stratton. That day, Bishop Matthew H. Clark ordained those six men permanent deacons for the Diocese of Rochester.

“It was an awesome experience,” Deacon Donahue later told the Catholic Courier.

The ordination at Sacred Heart Cathedral marked the culmination of four years of discernment, studies and service for the six new deacons. Hailing from all corners of the diocese, these six men were brought together by their call to live out their Catholic faith and serve others through the permanent diaconate.

Deacon Behe and his wife, Susan, belong to Holy Trinity Parish in Webster; Deacon Carra and his wife, Josephine, belong to St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Mendon; and Deacon Colomaio and his wife, Pamela, belong to St. Mary Parish in Bath. Deacon Dennis Donahue and his wife, Cindy, are members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Auburn; Deacon Squilla and his wife, Marlene, belong to St. Lawrence Parish in Greece; and Deacon Stratton and his wife, Shirley, belong to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spencerport.

Hundreds of diocesan Catholics made the trek to the cathedral for the ordination. At precisely 10:30 a.m. dozens of diocesan priests and deacons — followed by the six acolytes and Bishop Clark — processed down the center aisle to joyful music provided by the Diocesan Festival Choir and the cathedral’s Halloran-All Saints Organ.

During his homily later, Bishop Clark reflected on the day’s readings, which were about God’s love and friendship and his call to his followers. He encouraged the new deacons to joyfully carry out their ministry of spreading God’s word and caring for the vulnerable.

“Please always be mindful that you do so supported by the prayers of the church, which loves you, which has called you to this vocation and which will always support you in its exercises,” Bishop Clark said. “I hope that you will find it a journey of great joy … and know a realizing of life’s promises to you, and that you will have joy in finding Christ in the people to whom you will minister.”

The deacons’ ordination also provided a good chance for the rest of those congregated to remember God’s faithful commitment to all of us, the bishop added. The new deacons will now be a sign of God’s care, and their presence will remind others of God’s grace, he said.

“We will be recharged in our awareness of our common vocation to reach out to those same individuals (served by the deacons), and to do it with an awareness of Christ’s love,” Bishop Clark said.

The bishop thanked the deacons’ wives, family members and friends for supporting them through the formation process before thanking the six men themselves for so generously giving of their time and gifts.

“We’re going to be with you, loving you, serving with you through it all,” he told them. “In faith, in great joy and profound trust we now celebrate with joyful hearts this wonderful rite of ordination.”

After the homily the six diaconal candidates affirmed their vocational commitment and promised obedience to and respect for Bishop Clark and his successors. Then they prostrated themselves on the cool cathedral floor as a sung Litany of the Saints and hundreds of prayers washed over them. This humble act of prayer was incredibly moving, the deacons later told the Catholic Courier. Deacon Carra said he felt the presence of his deceased parents as he laid on the floor experiencing a wave of emotions.

“The Litany is the most moving part, knowing that all the saints are up there looking down on us and blessing us,” Deacon Squilla agreed. “I was feeling the Holy Spirit coming down on me.”

Deacon Stratton said his prostrate position humbled him and helped him realize he was in the presence of God and the Holy Spirit, and what an awesome gift that was.

“Maybe more often we should pray in that prostrate position,” he said. “It’s not kneeling, it’s not genuflecting. It’s being completely without pride, without position, without status.”

After they got up the deacons knelt one by one before Bishop Clark, who laid his hands on their heads in prayer.

“When Bishop Clark put his hands on my head I felt the hands of the apostles,” Deacon Colomaio said. “Their power and that surge coming through, it was just a remarkable experience.”

The men’s wives and priest friends then vested them with their stoles and dalmatics, and each deacon was presented with the Book of the Gospels. Dozens of deacons then filed forward to welcome their new brothers into the diaconate with congratulations and warm embraces.

“It’s a very humbling experience. It’s very Holy Spirit-filled,” Deacon Behe said of the ordination, and Deacon Donahue agreed.

“I felt as if my four years of formation and the whole of my life was descending into this moment, and then ascending back out like an explosive event which goes out in a perfectly concentric movement,” Deacon Donahue said.

This story was updated on June 4, 2009.

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