Pictured are the men who were preparing to be instituted as acolytes by Bishop O'Connell.
Pictured are the men who were preparing to be instituted as acolytes by Bishop O'Connell.
Twenty-one men who are preparing to serve as permanent deacons in the Diocese reached a significant milestone in their formation journeys.

During a Feb. 5 Mass celebrated in St. Ann Church, Lawrenceville, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., presided over two rites in which he instituted 11 men into the Ministry of Reader (Lector) and 10 men into the Ministry of Acolyte.

PHOTO GALLERY: Institution of Acolytes and Lectors

Reminding the men, who hail from all corners of the Diocese, that the milestones mean much more than performing certain functions, the Bishop said, “These ministries move you a step further along on your journey toward Holy Orders, the path toward the diaconate.”

Candidates who are installed as lectors are commissioned to proclaim the Reading, except for the Gospel, during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass and other liturgical celebrations. Acolytes are instituted to serve at the altar and to assist the priest and deacon, and as special ministers to give Holy Communion to the faithful during the liturgy and to the sick.

When addressing the lectors, the Bishop, in his homily, reminded them that their role is to “read the Word of God – the subject of our faith and ministry – to God’s people.

“You will speak of it; you will teach it; you will guide others in understanding it. That’s the picture,” he said. “but to be believed you must understand it and live what it demands of you. Jesus Christ is the Word you will offer. Know him in the Word. That’s the message.

“Today’s ritual is a ‘special delivery message’ to you to let the Word of God that is Jesus Christ take hold of you, form you and shape your view of life,” the Bishop said. “Don’t simply read; believe. Don’t simply believe; live. Don’t simply live; share. Don’t simply share; evangelize and call others to conviction and witness. Today’s ceremony is only a beginning and the beginning starts with you.”

Speaking to the acolytes, Bishop O’Connell explained how they will be given the care and custody of the altar and what it contains and offers – the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

“As acolytes, you will be entrusted with the care of the altar and distribution of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ,” he said. “In this sacramental ministry, you will give to the faithful the greatest treasure we have, the Real Presence, the sacramental presence of the Son of God, who gave himself to us and who gave his life for us.”

Bishop O’Connell encouraged the 21 men to take the ministries to which they had been instituted to heart.

“Realize that these are not mere functions,” he reiterated, “but they are acts of faith.”

Candidates instituted into the Ministry of Reader:

Nelson R. Abreu, Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton

Stuart T. Altschuler, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown

Mark F. Degenhart, St. James Parish, Red Bank

Vincent P. Delle Grotti, St. Gregory the Great Parish, Hamilton Square

Richard A. Gerbino, St. Mary Parish, Colts Neck

Richard J. Huegi, St. Mary Parish, Barnegat

John C. Italia, St. Paul Parish, Princeton

Thomas W. McDonald, St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford

Michael S. Shuflat, St. Pius X Parish, Forked River

Joseph V. Stillo, St. Mark Parish, Sea Girt

James J. Turro, St. Pio of Pietrelcina Parish, Lavallette/Sacred Heart Parish, Bay Head

Candidates instituted into the Ministry of Acolyte:

Christopher F. Buono, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Whiting

Donald Gries, St. Justin the Martyr Parish, Toms River

Louis E. Mayer, St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, Medford

Mynor A. Pardo, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton

William J. Ross, St. Mary Parish, Middletown

Philip J. Thompson, St. Veronica Parish, Howell

Robert C. Vidal, St. Mary Parish, Barnegat

Jay L. Werling, St. Theresa Parish, Little Egg Harbor

John L. White, St. Monica Parish, Jackson

Thomas R. Wieczerak, St. James Parish, Red Bank