Two men ordained to the diaconate on their way to priestly ordination in 2025

Anne-Marie Welsh

Left to right: Deacon Michael Scanga, Erie Bishop Lawrence
Persico and Deacon Brandon Feikles. Photos/Anne-Marie

ERIE — “The Chrism Mass really resonated with me,” said Michael Scanga, just after the Mass at which priests from throughout the Diocese of Erie renewed their promises and  just weeks before he became Deacon Michael Scanga. “There are parts of me that feel very poor on the inside, but also very humbled and very grateful as well. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.”

            He and his classmate, Deacon Brandon Feikles, both have served at the annual Chrism Mass for several years while studying for the priesthood.

            “I’m feeling God’s stability and it’s giving me peace,” Brandon Feikles said, speaking in the sanctuary of St. Peter Cathedral, Erie, also after the Chrism Mass. “I’m very grateful and excited to see what’s coming.”

            And so it was that on Saturday, April 13, the two men

entered the chapel at St. Mark Seminary, Erie, to participate in the Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate.

            Immediately following the Gospel reading, Very Rev. Scott Jabo, vocation director and rector of St. Mark Seminary, formally presented Scanga of St. Joseph Parish, Sharon, and Feikles of St. James Parish, Erie, to Bishop Persico.

Deacon Luke Daghir listens as Bishop Lawrence Persico
offers his homily.

            “As we give thanks for the great gift of Easter, it is in Jesus’ name and through the power of his resurrection that we call forth our brothers Brandon Feikles and Michael Scanga to the Order of Diaconate for service to the Church of Erie,” the bishop said in his homily, addressed directly to the candidates who were seated before him.
            Acknowledging that their journey had been long, Bishop Persico also told the candidates he knew it had been well worth the time, hard work and deep commitment they had given to it.

            “It is apparent to all of us that you have grown in your relationship with the Lord and have found your place in his plan,” he said.  

            The bishop then spoke about the sacrament of Holy Orders as a ministry focused on the People of God.

Bishop Persico lays hands on the Deacon Scanga
during the Rite of Ordination.

            “For as meaningful and significant as this moment may be for you personally, the ministry that you will embrace is not yours alone,” he said. “It comes from and is rooted in the life of the Lord Jesus — who came to save us from sin and the brokenness of our world — who came to bring us new life — and who, as noted in the second reading today from Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, has ‘given us the ministry of reconciliation’ for the sake of the life of our world.”  The bishop then underscored the threefold ministry of the diaconate: service to the Word of God, service at the Lord’s altar and service to the poor.  

            “As Pope Francis has reminded us, you are to go to the margins of our world,” Bishop Persico said, “where you will find the poor and the broken. Be generous in your service, imitating the Lord who washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.”

            The ceremony continued with the Promise of the Elect, during which the candidates expressed their resolve to carry out their office according to the mind of Christ and his church, and the Litany of Supplication, during which they laid prostrate in front of the altar as those present prayed for the intercession of numerous

saints. Bishop Persico then laid his hands on each of the elect in silence before offering the Prayer of Ordination.

            Father Brandon Kleckner, pastor of St. Michael Parish, Greenville, then vested Deacon Brandon while Father Maximilian Maria Jaskowak, O.P. of Baltimore’s St. Mary’s Seminary & University, vested Deacon Michael.  

            Each deacon then individually knelt before Bishop Persico as he presented them with the Book of the Gospels, saying, “Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” After the bishop offered each deacon a fraternal kiss, all of the deacons present did likewise.

Deacon Feikles receives the Book of Gospels
from Bishop Persico during the Rite of Ordi-
nation to the Diaconate.

       Even as Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist, parents, family members and friends could be seen dabbing tears from the corners of their eyes, overwhelmed with the moment. In fact, as photos were taken at the end of Mass, Deacon Feikles’ mother, Mary, said she could “cry with every emotion,” as she spoke of being overjoyed and grateful.

            What does she hope for the new deacons as they spend a final year in preparation for ordination to the priesthood?

            “This is a time right now, when all of our deacons, our priests — need so much prayer,” she said. “And I hope the youth will see the light in both Brandon and Michael.”

            All are invited to continue praying for the new deacons and for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. Bishop Persico authored the following prayer for this purpose in 2013:

The Litany of Supplication

Prayer for Vocations
Lord God, creator of all things and source of all gifts and talents,
your Son came to this world to fulfill His vocation
as the Redeemer of all humanity.
Grant the sons and daughters of the parishes of the Diocese of Erie
a profound awareness of their own vocations.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
may they come to realize their distinct place
in your divine plan.
Give them the grace to recognize and the courage to pursue vocations
as devoted priests, deacons and consecrated women and men
to assist the Diocese of Erie in fulfilling her mission.
With the intercession of Saint Patrick, our patron,
who preached the Gospel in word and deed,
we pray that they may find happiness and fulfillment
in a life of service to others.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen