Bishop O'Connell processes into St. Ann Church at the start of Mass Dec. 13 during which he installed 12 deacon candidates into Ministry of Acolyte.
Bishop O'Connell processes into St. Ann Church at the start of Mass Dec. 13 during which he installed 12 deacon candidates into Ministry of Acolyte.
Twelve men preparing to serve as deacons in the Diocese of Trenton reached a milestone in their formation Dec. 13 when Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., installed them into the Ministry of Acolyte during a Mass in St. Ann Church, Lawrenceville,

Acolytes are commissioned to serve at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon, and as special ministers to administer Holy Communion to the faithful during the liturgy and to the sick.

PHOTO GALLERY: Ministry of Acolyte

“My brothers, as acolytes, preparing for your ordination as deacons, you will be given the care and custody of the altar and what it contains and offers: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ,” Bishop O’Connell, C.M., said in his homily.  The deacon candidates included: Nelson Abreu, Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony, Hamilton; Stuart Altschuler, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Moorestown; Mark Degenhart, St. James, Red Bank; Vincent Delle Grotti, Sr., St. Gregory the Great, Hamilton Square; Richard Gerbino, St. Mary, Colts Neck; Richard Huegi, St. Mary, Barnegat; John Italia, St. Paul, Princeton; Thomas McDonald, St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford; Edward Mayer, St. Mary of the Lakes, Medford; Michael Shuflat, St. Pius X, Forked River; Joseph Stillo, St. Mark, Sea Girt, and James Turro, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Lavallette/Sacred Heart, Bay Head.

“The Eucharist is the center of our lives and must always be. There can be no doubt about that. No lack of reverence is ever acceptable. No carelessness is ever acceptable. What you touch, what you care for, what you adore, what you bring to the sick is the very person of Jesus Christ, hidden in bread and wine but fully present,” the Bishop said.

“The Eucharist is, as the Church teaches, the source and summit of our Christian life,” Bishop O’Connell continued. “As acolytes, you will hold in your hands, you will offer to the faithful, you will expose on the altar, you will nourish the sick with the Bread of Life.”

Reading from the official instruction for the Rite, Bishop O’Connell said:

“Dear sons in Christ, as people chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry. The summit and source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow. . . Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness.

“You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourselves daily to God as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ.

“In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share the one Bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people, and especially for the weak and the sick.

“Be obedient to the commandment which the Lord gave to His Apostles at the Last Supper: ‘Love one another as I also have loved you.’”

Wearing white albs during the Mass and sitting with their spouses and family members, the 12 men approached the altar one by one for the installation rite, kneeling before the Bishop. He placed a paten and chalice in the hands of each candidate and said, “Take this vessel with the bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of His Church.”

Each candidate replied “Amen.”

With the exception of Mayer, the other deacon candidates are expected to be ordained in 2024. Mayer is scheduled to be ordained this coming spring on May 20 in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.