Signifying their total dependence on God, the deacon candidates lie prostrate during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints.
Signifying their total dependence on God, the deacon candidates lie prostrate during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints.
Mary Taylor and her two children, Ian and Michele, have seen their husband and father grow academically and spiritually during the past five years he spent preparing to become a deacon for the Diocese of Trenton.   

But Michele said it wasn’t until she stepped inside St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, the morning of May 15 that “it actually hit me that after five years, my dad was going to be ordained a deacon today,” she said. “It sunk in that this was really happening.”  

PHOTO GALLERY: Eight deacons ordained for Diocese

Deacon Dennis Taylor of Resurrection Parish, Delran, and his seven classmates – Deacon Philip Clingerman, St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown; Deacon Paul H. DeGrazia, St. John the Baptist Parish, Allentown; Deacon Gene Lanzoni, St. Ann Parish, Lawrenceville; Deacon James M. Mackintosh, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold; Deacon Salvatore A. Petro, Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton; Deacon Paul Remick, St. Benedict Parish, Holmdel, and Deacon Jorge T. Valente, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Freehold – were ordained to the Order of Deacon by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., during a Mass celebrated in the Diocese’s Mother Church.  

Although the Mass was closed to the general public due to pandemic restrictions, those who were not able to attend in-person could witness the Ordination which was livestreamed on TrentonMonitor.com and dioceseoftrenton.org.  

Ancient Order of the Church 

Before the Ordination rite began, Bishop O’Connell, in his homily, reflected on how the Catholic Church was started 2,000 years ago by the apostles and that the Order of Deacon “was born out of the needs of those first apostles to serve the community of faith in very practical ways. 

“The story of the Church’s deacons over the centuries is a rich and profound one, and a theme ties that story together over these many, many years,” the Bishop said, then described how a deacon assists his bishop, who is a successor to the apostles, and offers their apostolic ministry to the people of God through the proclamation of the Word, the liturgy of the Church and its works of charity. Deacons, Bishop O’Connell said, “stand close by the bishop and his collaborators, the priests – not as bishops, not as priests, but as deacons – ‘to serve and not to be served.’”  

Bishop O’Connell pragmatically observed that there are not too many people seeking the job of servant in today’s society.

“You won’t find ‘want ads’ for such a position in newspapers or online. But the deacon's . . . job description has the word ‘servant’ at its very core,” he said.  

“The order of deacon is not primarily about doing things,” said Bishop O’Connell. “The deacon responds to a call to be deeply, personally united to Jesus Christ who serves, to deeply, personally represent in a visible way Jesus Christ who serves, to take the whole of his life – his marriage, his family, his profession – a deeply, personal witness to Jesus Christ who serves. 

“In his Ordination, all of these things become a ministry of service to, for and with Jesus Christ who serves,” he said. 

Grace-Filled Actions 

Following the homily, Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, diocesan episcopal vicar for clergy and consecrated life and director of seminarians, called the then-deacon candidates forward and testified on their behalf that they were prepared to receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders and assume the responsibilities of the diaconate. Bishop O’Connell, in the name of the entire Church, accepted the testimony. The congregation signaled their approval with applause. 

The series of movements during the Rite of Ordination began with each of the eight men approaching the Bishop, kneeling and placing their hands in his and making a Promise of Obedience to Bishop O’Connell and his successors. The deacon candidates, who then lined up in the Cathedral’s center aisle, showed their total dependence on God by prostrating themselves on the floor as the cantor chanted the Litany of Saints.  Again, each man once again came forward and knelt before the Bishop who placed his hands on their heads, conferring the Holy Spirit upon them and silently praying the words of consecration. 

After the Bishop imposed his hands on each new deacon’s head, the men, with assistance from their priests, were vested with the stole and dalmatic, the liturgical garments that symbolize their ministry. The newly ordained deacons again each knelt before Bishop O’Connell, who placed the Book of the Gospels in their hands and said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.” 

Once the Ordination rite was complete, the Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist. For the reception of Holy Communion, the eight new deacons administered the Eucharist to the congregation, which was composed of family members, friends and a limited number of invited guests. 

Experiencing Their Journeys 

Because COVID-19 regulations were still enforced and no indoor receptions were permitted, well-wishers greeted the new deacons outdoors in front of the Cathedral.  

Ellen Remick smiled as she talked about her husband’s sense of contentment when he realized he was being called to become a deacon. 

 “Paul’s not a different person, but he’s more grace-filled,” she said. “Being a deacon and being the person God wants him to be means everything to him.”  

Mary Taylor shared her husband’s vocation was initially fostered after he heard a homily on how sometimes God calls you to do more. 

“Dennis said he felt called, well, more like pushed, in his desire to serve the Lord,” she said. “I told him, ‘If God is calling you, you’ve got to go.’”  

Now after a long, five-year journey, “it’s his Ordination day and it’s been worth the while,” she said. “He’s happy and I pray that God will take care of the rest.” 

While Deacon Mackintosh was aware that another parishioner from St. Rose of Lima Parish was also considering the diaconate, it wasn’t until the formation process began when he met Jorge Valente. 

“You would think we would have connected since we are both from North Jersey, we’re married with adult kids and now we are in the same parish,” he said, but it was the diaconate that brought the two of them together.  

“It was great to have someone else from the parish and not have to discern the vocation alone,” he said.  

Deacon Mackintosh said he had discerned the diaconate for about 10 years and appreciated the guidance he received from Father John F. Campoli, I.V. Dei, a weekend assistant at St. Rose of Lima Parish. 

“It’s exciting and humbling,” he said of his Ordination.   

Deacon Valente said he found listening to the Litany of Saints while laying prostrate on the floor to be  the most moving part of the Ordination Mass. 

“They are models for all of us,” he said of the saints.  

“They lived according to the Gospel, and now I’m called to live according to the Gospel as a deacon,” he said, adding that he looks forward to bringing the Gospel to others and making special mention of all the faithful at St. Rose of Lima Parish, especially the parish’s Hispanic ministry. 

“When I started the diaconate, I thought the five years of formation seemed like a long time, but it went by very quickly and we were well prepared,” Deacon DeGrazia said. He noted the added blessing it was to have journeyed through the formation with fellow parishioner, Deacon Philip Clingerman. 

Deacon DeGrazia said he too became overwhelmed with emotion during the Litany of Saints as well as when he noticed the stained glass image of a Bishop ordaining a priest that’s located behind the Bishop’s chair.  

In Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Deacon Petro expects to carry out regular duties of a deacon, such as assisting at Mass and presiding over Baptisms, wakes, graveside services and weddings. Beyond that, “I will serve any way I can, wherever I am needed,” he said. “I am ready.” 

 Deacon Petro’s eyes misted as he thought about the past five years during which he said his relationship with the Lord had deepened; he developed a special bond with his brother deacons in formation, and he was able to pursue his vocation with the unwavering support of his wife and son. 

“‘Thank you’,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”