ALBANY, NY – More than 250 family members, friends, well-wishers, clergy and others today celebrated the ordination of four new deacons to serve the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
The colorful and moving Ordination to the Diaconate was celebrated at Albany’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, his first such ceremony as head of the Albany Diocese.
Ordained as permanent deacons were: Dr. Michael J. Freeman, 50 (turns 51 on Tuesday), of Walton; Timothy James Kosto II, 41, of Nassau; Ryan Joseph McNulty, 42, of South Glens Falls; and Larry Steiger, 64, of Amsterdam.
Each of these men have had their own unique histories prior to reaching this ministry of faith. Among other things in his background, Dr. Freeman has a family medical practice and was raised in a Jewish home downstate with Italian and Irish Catholic roots in his family. He converted to Catholicism shortly after marrying his wife Denise.
Mr. Kosto, an engineer by profession, lives with his wife Kathryn in an 18th century farmhouse that the two of them have restored.
Mr. McNulty, in part, was encouraged to pursue this church ministry by his late father-in-law, a Methodist pastor.
Mr. Steiger has raised Scottish Highlander Cattle. He and his wife Carol own a small farmette overlooking the lower Schoharie Creek.
[full bios of all four men follow below]
In his homily, Bishop Scharfenberger stressed to the men about to be ordained that theirs is a ministry of service. “Be a man in the service of the whole community,” he said. Three times he repeated, as they should, “I am here to serve. I am here to serve. I am here to serve.” Later he added, “Jesus is that strength that you will rely on.”
Early on, Bishop Scharfenberger gave them an option. “You still have time to change your mind,” which elicited a chuckle from all those in attendance.
As the bishop said, 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.
Pope Paul VI, in outlining the deacon’s role, described it as fulfilling the duties of social assistance, administration and sustaining the good works of a parish. In practice, deacons perform a variety of ministries from visiting the sick, serving as prison chaplains to administering a parish.