Deacon Jonathan Reyes of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus on Staten Island said his ordination to the permanent diaconate alongside his seven classmates from other parts of the archdiocese “truly reflects the diversity and universality of the Church—that we are spread all over and responding to the call.”
The Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacon on Oct. 31 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was one of the most beautiful days of his life, Deacon Reyes told CNY after the rite. “The grace of God is upon me, and it’s overflowing.” He added he is thankful for his family for sharing him with the Church.
The new deacons are Deacon Stephen Broussard and Deacon Dennis McCormack, both of St. Columba, Hopewell Junction; Deacon Harold Hochstein, of St. Francis of Assisi, Mount Kisco; Deacon Kevin McGuirk, of St. Martin de Porres, Poughkeepsie; Deacon Reyes, of St. Teresa of the Infant Jesus on Staten Island; Deacon Paul Stolz, of St. Peter and St. Mary of the Assumption in Haverstraw; Deacon Keith White, of St. Christopher and St. Sylvia in Red Hook; and Deacon Mark Wisniewski, of St. Mary’s, Wappingers Falls.
Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen presided on behalf of Cardinal Dolan, who was in Hartford, Conn., for the beatification of Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus.
“You’re not being ordained on Halloween,” Bishop Whalen said in his homily. “Halloween is costumes and candy.” Rather, he explained, they were being ordained on the feast of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez.
He shared the story of the saint, which included him becoming a doorkeeper—“the one who answers the door, but more importantly, the one who opens the door,” Bishop Whalen said. “And because of that he comes into contact with all the people with their good and bad, their failures, their foibles, their needs.
“And he doesn’t open the door like all too many people today and hand out candy.” No empty calories from Alphonsus, Bishop Whalen continued. He gives them that for which they hunger, “the presence of God, in the simple service of being the doorkeeper,” because the doorkeeper “is also the face of the Church to those people. The first one whom they meet is the doorkeeper—the one who can either shut the door in their face or open the door of their hearts to God…
“And that, brothers, that’s the deacon,” Bishop Whalen said. “The doorkeeper. The one who becomes the face of the Church to God’s people because of your experience, because of your life, because of your family. You become the one who opens the door to God’s people.”
Bishop Whalen encouraged the men to talk to God about the gift of the service in charity and to be grateful for the gift of the grace they received that day.
Macrina Reyes, wife of Deacon Reyes, shared with CNY that “It’s been a great blessing and we just thank our Almighty Father for giving us this grace to be of service to the Catholic Church, and through that special intercession of the Blessed Mother who’s guiding us through all this. We’re so grateful.”
As part of the rite, Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop James Massa, the new rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie where the men studied, speaking on behalf of the Church and those in charge of formation, asked the ordaining bishop to ordain the men deacons and testified that they had been found worthy. Bishop Whalen then announced his intention to accept the recommendation of the rector, after which the congregation expressed its approval through applause.
Deacon of the Word was Deacon Francis Orlando, director of diaconate formation in the archdiocesan Diaconate Office. Deacon of the Eucharist was the newly ordained Deacon Harold Hochstein.
“There’s a certain strength inside me now that was not there before, and I’m sure it’s the strength of the Holy Spirit,” Deacon Hochstein told CNY after the Mass.
Being ordained amid the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a delay of four months from the original ordination date. The wait, Deacon Hochstein observed, was a demonstration of their obedience and patience. “God doesn’t have a watch; when it’s time, He knows and that’s the way it is.”
That night, Deacon Hochstein planned to pray for his diaconal classmates, his wife and family and for the parishioners he will serve.
The laying on of hands by Bishop Whalen was a highlight of the ordination rite for Deacon McCormack of St. Columba, Hopewell Junction. He summarized the sacred moment as “a silent passing of grace from him to me, and through God.”
Deacon Orlando, speaking with CNY, described the newly ordained deacons as “mature, loving, kind men.”
“I’m very proud of them,” he said. “It’s a five-year walk for them.” The well-trained and talented new deacons, he added, are ready to minister.
In addition to Deacon Orlando, the Diaconate Office is led by Deacon James Bello, director of diaconate ministry and life.