The 10 men ordained to the sacred order of deacon for the archdiocese did so with the support of their families, who surrounded them with their loving support and presence on the day of their Mass of Ordination as they have during their formation for the permanent diaconate.
The presence was apparent in the rows of seating reserved for the families and friends of the deacons. Wives and other family members also brought forward the offertory gifts. After Mass, Cardinal Dolan greeted the deacons and their families and special guests in the Lady Chapel for photos.
The cardinal, the principal celebrant of the June 23 Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, acknowledged the family support near the beginning of his homily when he said, “Dear wives and families, thank you for sharing these men with the Church.”
The cardinal also offered a reminder that the permanent diaconate is “still relatively new in the eyes of the Church,” having been restored 50 years ago after the Second Vatican Council.
Dozens of fellow permanent deacons from across the archdiocese were also present at the cathedral as were many priests.
The cardinal said it was appropriate the Feast of St. John the Baptist was the next day, June 24, because the newly ordained deacons share similarities with the saint. The deacons’ role is to prepare the way of the Lord, by serving at the altar, getting people ready for baptism or reaching out to people on the peripheries.
“You are not the center of attention, Jesus is,” the cardinal told the elect, who were to be ordained.
On the day of their ordination, the men being ordained to the diaconate did play a leading role, as Cardinal Dolan and Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, the vicar for clergy in the archdiocese, led them through the Rite of Ordination.
Newly ordained Deacon Jose Camacho of St. Peter and St. Denis parish in Yonkers, spoke to CNY as he stood with his pastor, Father Donald Kaufman, L.C., outside the Lady Chapel after the morning Mass. The new deacon said he was “still digesting” all that had just happened.
“I am blessed and I want to bless others,” he said. “I want to become a bridge to help others become close to Jesus.”
Ana Germosen, a parishioner of St. Peter-St. Denis, said she was happy to see Deacon Camacho take up the ministry of the permanent diaconate, which her own father, Deacon Pedro Irizarry, has carried out at the Yonkers parish for the past 30 years.
“To see him in his formation, we are excited to have someone else to help us reach to our population in Yonkers,” said Mrs. Germosen, who was seated in the cathedral with her husband, Juan, and her mother, Maria.
“We need men who are not afraid, like Cardinal Dolan was saying, humble men, family men. Now they are able to share that with the rest of the Church,” she said.
Father Justin Cinnante, O. Carm., vested Deacon Tom Bennett with his stole and dalmatic during the Ordination Rite. Father Cinnante, who is Deacon Bennett’s spiritual director, later told CNY that the new deacon would serve well at the altar and in visiting the sick of St. Francis of Assisi parish in West Nyack.
“He has a very compassionate heart,” Father Cinnante said of Deacon Bennett, who is a paramedic in the EMS department of Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New Jersey.
The diaconal ministry of Deacon Bennett is very much a family affair. His wife, Kerri, shared her excitement with CNY as the new deacon greeted and blessed family and friends after Mass. She said that she and their two young daughters, Abby and Molly, had “prayed over” their husband and father in the hotel where they stayed overnight before walking over to the cathedral for the Mass of Ordination.
At St. Francis of Assisi, Deacon Bennett has served as a lector and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and belongs to the Cornerstone men’s ministry. Mrs. Bennett is a lector and coordinates the parish’s American Heritage Girls troop, the first one in Rockland County.
“We’ve always had a very faith-filled relationship and marriage,” said Mrs. Bennett, whose 37-year-old husband is now the youngest deacon in the archdiocese.
“We pray together. It’s brought us closer together,” she said.