ALBANY, NY – Six area men received the unique honor of being ordained as deacons of the Catholic Church in a celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany this morning. Hundreds of family members, friends, well wishers, clergy and religious filled the Cathedral to bear witness to this special event.
One of the two men ordained as transitional deacons, destined for the priesthood, was 59-year old James G. David of Edinburg, NY. The other transitional deacon ordained was Brian Slezak, 29, of Rotterdam Junction. Ordained as permanent deacons were: Richard J. DiCaprio, 60, of Schenectady; Andrew W. Grebe, 51, of Clifton Park; Joseph Romand, 54, of Albany; and Robert Sweeney, 64, of Niskayuna.
The colorful and moving Ordination to the Diaconate was celebrated by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who outlined the many duties and responsibilities of the deaconate, also declaring that “Charity be at the center of your mission and ministry.” He later quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, that, “Justice is the higher form of charity. Justice seeks to address the structural and systemic causes of poverty, inequality and discrimination.” In his own words, Bishop Hubbard said, “I urge you who are to be ordained today to be advocates for social justice, and to mobilize the members of the parish communities where you serve to be such as well.” In addition, he said, “Social justice is an integral part of the mission of Jesus and of the ministry of the church.”
As deacons the ministry of these men, first and foremost, will be one of service. They will assist at the Eucharist (Mass), and may officiate at weddings, baptisms and funerals. They will proclaim the Gospel and may be given faculties (permission) to preach. They will bless objects and persons within liturgical celebrations.
This lifelong commitment and responsibility comes after at least three years of intensive training and their formal dedication to the church.
Under the current guidelines of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to be ordained a permanent deacon a man must be at least thirty-five years of age. He may be married or unmarried but if single or later widowed, he must observe the rule of celibacy.