After the Mass at which he was ordained in St. Patrick’s Cathedral June 25, Deacon John Tomasicchio recalled the beginning of his personal journey to the permanent diaconate.
Father Michael McLoughin, then pastor at St. Stephen the First Martyr parish in Warwick, told him to stick close by the side of Deacon Emmett Noonan for a year, to observe and learn about what a deacon does, to see if it might be something he would like to seriously pursue.
Tomasicchio joined Deacon Noonan as he carried out his ministry to the sick, and met with Eucharistic ministers and lectors of the parish. “He took me to everything. It was very hands-on,” Deacon Tomasicchio recalled.
“Afterward, I said, ‘Yes, this is what I’d like to do.’”
Deacon Tomasicchio also credited his wife of 32 years, Anne, for attending the diaconate formation classes with him in Poughkeepsie. “It was an amazing experience to go with my wife by my side,” he told CNY.
At the Mass of Ordination, all three deacons from St. Stephen’s were present, Deacons Noonan, Thomas Mac Dougall and Daniel Byrne as well as the current pastor, Father Jack Arlotta.
Along with Deacon Tomasicchio, Cardinal Dolan, the principal celebrant of the morning Mass, ordained 11 other men for service in parishes in the archdiocese.
They are Deacon Douglas Adams, Sacred Heart, Suffern; Deacon Kenneth Briskey, Regina Coeli, Hyde Park; Deacon Paul Brisson, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Catharine, Pelham Manor; Deacon John Catalano, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Catharine, Pelham Manor; Deacon Robert Cranston, St. John the Evangelist, Saugerties; Deacon Michael Hall, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Catharine, Pelham Manor; Deacon Frank Iovine, Sacred Heart, Newburgh; Deacon John Maulucci, St. Frances of Rome-St. Francis of Assisi-St. Anthony and Our Lady of Grace, the Bronx; Deacon Jorge Montealegre, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Elmsford; Deacon Robert Piloco, Sacred Heart, Hartsdale; and Deacon James Quadrino, Holy Child, Staten Island.
Cardinal Dolan began his homily by addressing each of the deacons by their first and middle names, in English and Spanish, and then echoing a line from the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.”
He then thanked them for their “openness” to the Lord’s call and for “the injection of hope that you give all of us this happy morning.”
Even Jesus’ exhortation to be a light unto the world implies that there is darkness, the cardinal said. The need for salt, in terms of faith, relates to a message that has gone flat or stale.
“We behold 12 men who want to cling to Jesus in His Church even more,” the cardinal said. “That gives us hope.”
The cardinal gave a litany of thanks to those who have helped the new deacons carry out their call to a vocation, beginning with their wives, which drew a loud ovation from the congregation, and continuing with children, parents and other family members as well as their parishes and fellow deacons “who welcome you.”
Cardinal Dolan, addressing the deacons directly, called their love for Jesus and His Church, already present in the sacramental bonds they previously experienced, “the very passion of your lives.”
Their ordination would give them an opportunity to invite others to share the bond with Jesus and His Church that is “the very meaning of a deacon.”
After Mass, family and friends waited in line to greet the new deacons at stations set up around the cathedral.
Diego Gutierrez, a parishioner of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Elmsford, was waiting for Deacon Jorge Montealegre’s arrival a few steps away from the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe near the front of the cathedral.
“He makes everybody laugh,” Gutierrez said. “He’s such a spiritual person. He chooses always the happiness.”
The new deacon is close to Gutierrez’ entire family, including his wife, Ivonne, and their two children. Deacon Montealegre ministers closely to the Hispanic community at the Westchester parish, Gutierrez said.
“He taught us to keep going forward by following Jesus,” Gutierrez said. “Our community is so happy. Gods spreads His mercy on us through him.”
Family is never far from a deacon’s ministry. Maria Rivera Maulucci, the wife of Deacon John Maulucci, told CNY that her husband was actually the second permanent deacon in the family after her father, Andrew A. Rivera, who serves at St. John’s in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
“It’s amazing, long awaited,” she said of her husband’s ordination. “The vocation was there.”
She said her husband’s vocation has been a blessing for both their family, which includes three teenage children (John, 19; Anthony, 16; and Anna, 13), and to the parish of St. Frances of Rome-St. Francis of Assisi-St. Anthony and Our Lady of Grace, the Bronx, where she is involved in music ministry.
His strong faith and persistent effort will serve him well in his new diaconal ministry, she added. “He puts a lot of effort into it. He wants to give God glory through his service.”
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