By Mary Stadnyk | News Editor
Fourteen men studying to become permanent deacons for the Diocese of Trenton were installed into the ministry of reader and 14 were installed into the ministry of acolyte during a Mass celebrated by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., March 4 in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.
Click HERE for gallery of photos.
The installation to the Ministry of Reader and the Ministry of Acolyte are respectively the second and third steps in a four-year process to completing the diaconate formation program. Through their installation as readers, candidates are permitted to proclaim the readings, 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 administer Holy Communion to the faithful at the liturgy and to the sick.
The Rite of Institution of Readers and Acolytes, which followed the homily, opened with Father Thomas J. Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life, presenting the candidates to Bishop O’Connell.
One by one, the reader candidates first stepped forward and knelt before Bishop O’Connell, who handed them the Bible, designating them readers. Each acolyte then came forward and knelt before the bishop. The bishop handed them the paten, containing the host that was to be consecrated during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, designating them acolytes.
For Timothy Collins of St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Medford, and Ronald V. Schwoebel of Sts. Francis and Clare Parish, Florence Township, the day offered them time to reflect on their respective journeys to becoming deacons and what they look forward to once they are ordained.
For Collins, who was installed as a reader, becoming a deacon means having a greater opportunity to participate in a ministry of service.
Though he had been active in several ministries in his parish, Collins said he “got to a point” in his life where he wanted to “take the next step.”
“And the priesthood wasn’t it,” said Collins, who described himself as the “token single man in the program.”
“I’m not the same person that I was a year-and-a-half ago when I started the program,” Collins said reflectively. “That much I know for sure. I’ve really grown in my faith in that amount of time.”
Schwoebel, who was installed as an acolyte, said he took his time discerning his vocation to the diaconate, but once he started learning more about it and entered the program, “it was a no brainer for me. I had to go for it.”
“It’s been fascinating,” said Schwoebel of his diaconate journey. Even though it’s demanding in terms of time and studies, he said he has enjoyed learning more about the Catholic faith and meeting other deacons.
Once he’s ordained, Schwoebel said that he anticipates having more involvement in the parish and would be interested in helping out with developing youth and adult faith formation ministries.