Five deacon candidates elevated to Ministry of Reader

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano urged five candidates for the permanent diaconate to proclaim the Word of God to a “world that runs from the Truth,” during a Mass at which they were installed in the ministry of reader, a major step in their formation as deacons.

As readers of God’s Word, they will be able to proclaim it in a liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith, and prepare them to receive the sacraments. This is a milestone for the men who are discerning the vocation of deacon.

“Be a humble servant of the Truth, for the Truth itself has the power, not you and not me,” Bishop Caggiano said in his homily at St. Augustine Cathedral. “Open your hearts in charity when you teach. Be humble before the mystery that is greater than all of us combined, and allow charity to always animate what you do in service of the Lord for he will allow you to bear great fruit.”

He thanked the men for their perseverance, and their families for the sacrifices they have made so the candidates, as husbands and fathers, could be involved in the formation program.

“Allow me to begin by offering my sincere thanks to you for persevering in formation in these very difficult, challenging and unpredictable times,” he said. “It is the calling God has given to all of us to meander this world, and I am deeply grateful that you have persevered in the call you have discerned in your heart and that the Lord has brought you to — your call to come into the great mystery of the Sacrament of Service as leaven in the Body of Christ.”

The candidates were Rock Desances of Saint Margaret Shrine, Bridgeport; Christopher Greer of Saint Luke Parish, Westport; George Kain of Saint Mary Parish, Ridgefield; James Meehan of Assumption Parish, Westport; and Vincent Pia of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish, Brookfield.

Bishop Caggiano told them that service takes many forms and that during the Institution of Ministry of Reader “God will grant you the grace of the Holy Spirit to dedicate yourselves to one of the three great charisms—the “Munera” of the office you will one day possess.”

This service to the Word of God was described by St. Paul as a two-edged sword because “it brings life and it also brings clarity of conversion of life to those who do not follow the Truth.”

To be a servant of the Word, Bishop Caggiano said, “is to dedicate yourself to discover the Truth, who is Someone, not something—the one who calls you will also in his holy word begin to open your minds and your hearts and your hands to be servants of the Truth.”

He added: “It is a call to enter into a living, breathing, ever-more deeply personal relationship with the Lord Jesus so that he can whisper in the quiet of night into your hearts what the Truth asks of you and the people you will serve…. For the world out there runs from the Truth; the world out there is afraid of the Truth, and we must be messengers of the Truth so that the world, you and I may find our path to eternal life.”

Deacon Jerry Lambert, Director of the Diaconate, said, “The Institution in the Ministry of Reader is a significant milestone along the four-and-a-half-year journey toward ordination.  Our five candidates have begun their third year of studies and discernment.  As they continue their journey, they will grow and strive for balance among the human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral dimensions of their diaconate formation.”

Within a year, the candidates will be installed as acolytes and receive the grace to enter into the second charism, which is to serve at the altar. Bishop Caggiano said it is more than a functionary rite. “It is to bring the hopes and dreams and suffering of God’s people into the one sacrifice which Christ offers for all eternity in which you and I have salvation,” he said.

There is no installation for the third charism, the Bishop explained. “That is not by mistake,” he said. “The truth is that Word and Sacrament exist for the sake of charity, which is the third of the great services you will live. For charity is God’s life, and service should animate everything you do in all aspects of your life—those that are extraordinary, pulpit and altar, and those that are ordinary, which is the rest of your life.”

“As you come here today to be installed as lector, allow me to remind you that all that you will do in service of the Word is also in service of the charity that you must give to your neighbor,” he said. “The Word of God is not to be a bludgeon to be beaten over people’s heads. It is the sweet divine invitation that God’s people can have their hearts expanded so they discover God’s love and share that love with their own neighbors and those they meet.”

During the institution, Bishop Caggiano called each candidate forward and as they knelt before him and held the Bible, he said, “Take this book of Holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the Word of God, so that it may grow strong in the heart of his people.”

He told the five candidates: “Brothers, thank you for coming here and for standing to be installed as lectors. May God continue to bless your formational journey in times of triumph and in times of great sacrifice. Both will come your way, and I promise you my prayers, as I do each day, that God will bring to fulfillment what he has called you to do from the moment you were conceived—to be his deacon, to be his servant of the Word, altar and charity, and to be the leaven in the world, to transform it into the image of the Lord so that we may all walk together as sisters and brothers until eternal life.”

The candidates who were instituted as readers were:

Christopher Greer of Westport, who 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 is involved in the adult choir as a cantor/soloist, a member of the men’s group and an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

George Kain of Ridgefield, who 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, who 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  dietetic assistant, food manager and health care assistant.

Vincent Pia who 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/lector, 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.