The Diocese of Buffalo welcomed three new permanent deacons on May 23, when Bishop Richard J. Malone ordained David C. Armstrong, Peter J. Donnelly and John A. Owczarczak at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.
With Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz and Bishop Emeritus Edward U. Kmiec, as well as a dozen or so priests, concelebrating, Bishop Malone thanked God for blessing the diocese with these three men who studied at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora.
"As we gather here to celebrate the mystery of God's call to John and Peter and David, and the confirmation of that call by the Church, how beautiful it would be if everyone of us in this cathedral today would, ourselves, resolve to listen more attentively and responsibly to God's whispering in our own hearts," Bishop Malone said.
After the three diaconal candidates approached Bishop Malone, Deacon Gregory Feary, director of formation for the diocesan Permanent Diaconate, asked the bishop to ordain the men and testified that they are worthy.
"These men, already twice recipients of the Holy Spirit's special grace in baptism and confirmation, will again receive the Spirit's empowering gifts as they are ordained to serve as deacons in the name of Jesus Christ, who is deacon of us all," Bishop Malone said.
In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. The permanent deacon has a threefold ministry: Minister of the Word - to proclaim the Gospel and preach the homily; Minister of the Liturgy - to baptize, to witness marriages, preside at Communion services, and conduct funeral rites; Minister of Service - to work with the marginalized, the poor, the imprisoned, and bring comfort to the sick.
"The faithful long for and have a right to expect holiness in their clergy, not perfection, but faithfulness. They want to trust us to be men of integrity and passion for mission. Christian integrity and commitment to mission is possible only through attending to the call," Bishop Malone said to the candidates. "That is what sustains us in our ministry. Your integrity, my brothers will be a crucial building block of a renewed Church here in Western New York."
Before being ordained, candidates must declare their intention to undertake this office and vow to obey the bishop and lead spiritual, prayerful lives.
"Do you resolve to be consecrated for the Church's ministries by the laying on of my hands and the gift of the Holy Spirit?" asked the bishop.
"Do you resolve to discharge the office of deacon with humble charity in order to assist the priestly order and to benefit the Christian people?"
"Do you resolve to hold fast to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience as the apostle urges and to proclaim this faith in word and deed according to the Gospel and the Church's tradition?
"Do you resolve to maintain and deepen the spirit of prayer that is proper to your way of life?"
"And in keeping with this spirit and what is required of you, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours with and for the people of God, and indeed, the whole world?"
"Do you resolve to conform your way of life always to the example of Christ, of Whom's body and blood you are ministers at the altar?"
The three men all promised, "I do."
"May God, who has become the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment," the bishop said.
The bishop instructed the new deacons to "receive the gospel of Christ Who's herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach."
Following the ordination, the three deacons each received their assignments. Deacon Armstrong will serve at Christ Our Hope Parish in French Creek. Deacon Donnelly will serve St. Gregory the Great Parish in Williamsville. Deacon Owczarczak will serve St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lancaster.