Permanent deacons ordained for Diocese of ErieBishop describes diaconate as 'vital ministry'
Calling the permanent diaconate a “vital ministry” of the Catholic Church, Bishop Lawrence Persico on May 31 ordained four men as permanent deacons for the Diocese of Erie.
Martin Aubel, Glen Bailey, Ph.D., Randy Kondrlik and Matthew Ochalek embraced their new ministerial role during an evening ordination Mass at St. Peter Cathedral in downtown Erie. They bring the number of permanent deacons in the diocese to 77.
“In your role as deacons, you have come to be and are associates of Peter, John and all the Apostles,” the bishop told the new deacons. “You help in the apostolic ministry and share in its proclamation. You ought to feel impelled to do good, to be of service in the name of Jesus crucified and risen, and the urgency to carry the Word of God to the life of his holy people.”
For Deacon Ochalek, the most inspiring moment of the ritual came when he and his classmates were lying prostrate before the altar, giving their entire selves to the service of Christ’s church.
“When we were lying on the floor, I could hear the whole church chanting the litany of the saints,” said Ochalek, 35, a member of Holy Rosary Parish, Erie. “It brought such a sense of calm that I was not expecting.”
Deacon Aubel, 62, and Deacon Bailey, 67, both called the experience “surreal.” The journey to ordination comes after five years of formation, in addition to the initial application process and a year of discernment.
“You prepare yourself for this, but it all went very fast,” said Deacon Aubel, a member of St. Michael Parish, Greenville.
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. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, and single men may be ordained to the permanent diaconate with a commitment to celibacy.
The new deacons have not yet been given their first official assignments, but all four have hopes of serving in whatever capacity the bishop needs.
A psychologist, Deacon Bailey said he provides therapy blended with spirituality.
“This will open new doors to help people in different ways in different types of ministry,” said Deacon Bailey, who is a member of Our Lady of Peace Parish, Erie. “People always ask me why I went into the diaconate. It’s really to give back because God has been so generous to me in my life.”
Aubel said the diaconate is all about service.
“I’ll go wherever the bishop sends me, but I like working with the elderly and the infirm and working in areas of poverty.”
Deacon Kondrlik, 60, was inspired to see at the ordination ceremony men he served at the Diocesan Lodge, a ministry of Maria House Project. The men were among the more than 200 people who gathered at St. Peter Cathedral for the evening event.
“I’m excited about meeting people wherever they are,” said Deacon Kondrlik, a parishioner of St. Thomas in Corry.
Bishop Persico thanked the men’s wives and families for their support, as well as instructors, pastors, and Father Mark Nowak and Deacon Richard Shewman of the diocese’s Permanent Diaconate Formation Program.
And the bishop reiterated the call of deacons, saying: “Your service to the people of God is threefold: service to the Word of God; service at the altar of the Lord; and service to the poor.”