Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Fifteen Men Recognized as Candidates in Permanent Diaconate Formation Program

Fifteen men in the Diocese’s Permanent Diaconate Formation Program were recognized as candidates for admission to Holy Orders on Saturday, September 23.

During Holy Mass with the Rite of Admission to Candidacy, celebrated at Good Shepherd Church in Camp Hill, the men were called forth and presented to Bishop Timothy Senior in front of a congregation of family members, priests, deacons and religious Sisters.

During the rite, the bishop asked the men a series of questions, through which they affirmed their intentions. Their admission to candidacy is a step in the procession toward their eventual ordination as deacons, which will take place in 2026.

“This is a moment for each of us to call to mind how God works in each of our lives,” Bishop Senior said his homily. “St. Paul says in the second reading, ‘To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for some benefit.’ Think about that in terms of your own Baptism and Confirmation, and what form that has taken in your lives.”

“We can think of so many manifestations of the Spirit, our vocations in life: whether it is to holy orders, to marriage, to some role as a single person, to consecrated life, to religious life, to a professional life. We know that God gives us the grace in order to fulfill His holy will,” he said.

He told the men that it’s normal to feel a certain hesitation to God’s call, and reminded them that “when God gives us that call, He also gives us the means by which to fulfill it…. When Jesus calls us, when Jesus is in charge, His will is unfolding in our lives. We can be reliant upon that.”

“For each of us as we contemplate God’s call in our lives…we can rely on God and His power in our lives. You men, embarking on this next stage in your formation as permanent deacons, keep that in mind. Jesus is directing this. The fruitfulness is going to be abundant when we rely upon Him.”

The Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Ronald Gainer; Father Mark Speitel, Diocesan Director of Clergy and Consecrated Life; Father John Bateman, Diocesan Director of Diaconal Formation; and a number of priests who are pastors of the candidates.

The current formation program for the permanent diaconate began in 2021, with an anticipated ordination in 2026. Four previous classes of deacons were ordained for service in 1978, 1983, 2010 and 2020.

John Soubik, a candidate from Mother Cabrini Parish in Shamokin, told The Witness after the Mass that he applied to the permanent diaconate program after “years of it being on my heart and my mind.”

He spent his pastoral year serving at Holy Angels Parish in Kulpmont, where he assisted with the parish’s meal program for people in need. “It was a wonderful demonstration of charity and I was blessed to be part of it,” Soubik said.

He said the formation program has been a tremendous blessing, with “wonderful formators giving so much to us. What we’re learning is so deep, it makes our call that much more meaningful.”

“We have been introduced to the Divine Office, Lectio Divina, and even Visio Divina.  Depending on the length of the session, our formation gatherings offer Mass, morning, night, and evening prayer, and a Holy Hour,” Soubik said. “Prayer is the sustaining attribute of our formation. Coupled with what we are learning from our formators at the Diocesan level and what our professors from the Pontifical College Josephinum teach us, this knowledge deepens our understanding of, love for and relationship with God.”

“I am confident in saying that each candidate is most grateful for this blessing,” he said.

(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)

By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness

Diaconate Candidates

Juan J. Alvarez-Ponce
Louis E. Carlson
Stephen J. Dietrich
Edward DiPilla
Richard B. Druby

Carlos Espinosa
Jeffrey F. Evich
Gregorio D. Figueroa
Rudolph K. Geisler
Michael A. Heidelbaugh

Michael A. Nowakowski
Douglas E. Peterson
John A. Soubik
Mark A. Sullivan
Michael D. Tafelski

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