“Become a living sign of service”

BRIDGEPORT— “You are meant to be a counter-sign of the world in which you live by becoming a living sign of service,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano to the five men he ordained to the Permanent Diaconate this morning at St. Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport.

Hundreds of family members, friends, clergy and faithful filled the Cathedral to celebrate the ordination of the five men who are also husbands and fathers: Christopher Greer of Westport, George Kain of Ridgefield, James Meehan of Westport, Rock Desances of Bridgeport, and Vincent Pia of Brookfield. The deacons have professional backgrounds in business, education, the service industry, and photography.

The congregation broke into applause several times to show their happiness and appreciation for the men who became candidates for the diaconate on October 26, 2019, received the ministry of reader on October 17, 2020, and received the ministry of acolyte on December 11, 2021.

The bishop said that the men have “walked a long journey of discovery and formation” to arrive at the moment of ordination, which remains both gift and mystery.

He told them they will be serving in a long line of deacons whose origins are described in the Acts of the Apostles, when seven were entrusted with the ministry of charity and service to the poorest of the poor.

The bishop pointed out that the Church’s definition of ministerial service goes beyond the care provided by the contemporary service industry.

“That’s not what we’re celebrating today. Our Master and Savior defines service as a ministry to give my life as ransom for the many—that’s the Christian definition of service.”

“In a world where life is all about me, you are a sacrament of living life for others. There will never be a moment when you are not a deacon, and what you do will not be easy” bishop told the men who knelt before him in front of the altar.

Whether in the pulpit, at work, or doing everyday things at home in ordinary life, the deacon must pour out his life to all those who trust in him, he said.

“You can’t do it without the Holy Spirit,” he said, urging the men to be courageous, and generous of heart as they point people to Christ. “You must bring the hopes and dreams of God’s people when you come to the altar,” he said.

He said they can always turn to the Blessed Mother for help.

“How blessed we are to gather on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” the bishop said, adding that he dedicated the new deacons to the Blessed Mother, who will also protect and guide their work, “Through her heart we come to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” he said.

After the Laying on of Hands and the Prayer of Ordination the newly ordained deacons were vested with a diaconal stole and dalmatic.

Deacon Rock Desances was vested as a Deacon by Deacon Donald Foust; Deacon Christopher Greer was vested by Rev. Thomas Anderson, S.J.; Deacon George Kain was vested by Msgr. Kevin Royal Pastor, St. Mary Parish, Ridgefield; Deacon James Meehan was vested by Fr. Terrence Walsh, Pastor, Sacred Heart-St. Patrick Parish, Redding; and Deacon Vincent Pia was vested by Rev. Shawn W. Jordan; Pastor, St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, Brookfield.

Wearing diaconal vestments, each newly ordained Deacon kneels before the bishop who hands him The Book of the Gospels.

“Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach,” the bishop repeated five times as he presented the book to each deacon.

During the Mass, the gifts of bread and wine were brought forward by the deacons’ family members: Mireille Desances, Kristine Greer, Marilyn Kain, Athina Meehan, and Holly Pia.

Deacons of the Mass were Deacon Gerald Lambert, Director of the Diaconate; Deacon John DiTaranto, Coordinator of Diaconate Continuing Formation; and Deacon Brad Smythe, Diaconate Formation Instructor.

Before giving the final blessing Bishop Caggiano said “What a joyful glorious day God has given us,” and he asked the five deacon’s wives to stand up and receive a round of applause. He praised them for being loving partners who encouraged and supported the men in their vocations.

The bishop thanked Deacon John Di Taranto who will lead the continuing formation program for the new deacons, and Deacon Jerry Lambert for “serving as a brother and a mentor” to the newly ordained.

He also announced the assignments for the new deacons : Deacon Vincent Pia will serve at St. Margaret Bourgeoys Parish in Brookfield; Deacon Rock Desances has dual assignments at St. Joseph and St. Ladislaus Parish in Norwalk and the quasi parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Stamford; Deacon James Meehan will serve at Assumption parish in Westport; Deacon George Cain will serve at St Mary Parish in Ridgefield, and Deacon Chris Greer will minister at St Luke Parish in Westport.

The role of the Deacon as defined by the Second Vatican Council is to administer Baptism, safeguard and dispense the Eucharist, assist at and bless marriages in the name of the Church, bring Viaticum to the dying, read the Sacred Scripture, preach, preside at the worship and prayer of the faithful, administer sacramentals, and to preside at funeral and burial rites.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

About the Deacons

Christopher Greer of Westport received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked as a development consultant as well as a professional sports photographer. He is a member of St. Luke’s in Westport along with his wife Kristine and their two children, Kassidy and Kevin. He participates in the adult choir as a cantor/soloist, is a member of the men’s group and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

George Kain of Ridgefield holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York. He has worked as a university professor and chairman in the Division of Justice and Law Administration at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury for 25 years and served as police commissioner for the Town of Ridgefield for 20 years. He is a member of St. Mary’s in Ridgefield along with his wife Marilyn. He has served as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion (as well as a homebound minister to the sick), a cantor, usher, altar server and RCIA instructor. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus, an adoration chapel volunteer, a member of the Disciples for Life Parish Retreat Team and men’s ministry. He is father of daughter Grace and grandfather of Mercy.

James Meehan of Westport holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from City University of New York. He has been the owner/operator of several businesses for historical window restoration, home heating oil delivery and heating/air conditioning. He and his wife Athina attend Church of the Assumption in Westport along with their children Christopher, Andrew and Christina. At Assumption, Meehan serves as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and reader, coordinating both ministries. He also serves in the elderly/homebound ministry, acts as financial secretary for the Knights of Columbus and is a volunteer coordinator at the Thomas Merton Center.

Rock Desances and his wife Mireille attend St. Margaret Shrine parish in Bridgeport along with their five children. Desances serves as an usher, reader, altar server and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has worked as a dietetic assistant, food manager and health care assistant.

Vincent Pia has worked as a writer, photographer, professional picture framer and art conservator. He is a member of St. Marguerite Bourgeouys in Brookfield, with his wife Holly and children Caitlynn and Brandon. He is active in the parish, serving as a reader, an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, altar server, parish Rosary leader, adult faith formation facilitator, a member of the Knights of Columbus (having previously served as both officer and director) and a former member of the choir.