Top, left to right: Fr. Bob Smith (Pastor), Fr. Daniel Opoku-Mensah
(Assoc. Pastor), and Fr. John (Fitz) Fitzgerald (in residence)
(Image courtesy of Lisa Gomes)
From all of us to our parish family, friends and loved ones...we wish you a very Merry Christmas and blessings abundant in the New Year!
No doubt we’re all familiar with this particular passage from Sacred Scripture, but how many of us have ever realized that it actually describes the first selection of men to whom we now refer as Permanent Deacons? In fact, when a man is ordained to the diaconate, the bishop is likely to pray, “Like the men the apostles chose for works of charity, you should be men of good reputation filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit.”
Among those first seven men who were called to serve was St. Stephen the Martyr, whose feast we celebrate on December 26. It’s not surprising then is it, that St. Stephen is the Patron Saint of Deacons.
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So what’s the significance of the Office of Permanent Diaconate in the modern church? It’s a centuries old ministry that was abandoned by the early church around the fourth century, but was revived as a result of the Second Vatican Council, which decreed that it be opened to “mature married men”, which was later clarified to mean men over the age of 35.
While the early members of the diaconate (from the Greek diakonos, “servant”) were primarily concerned with ensuring the general well being of the widowed and orphaned among them, modern day deacons can be found carrying out their ministerial responsibilities in parishes, hospitals and prisons, tending to the abused and battered, the mentally ill, the homeless and victims of discrimination. They are in large cities, small towns and rural communities, holding the hands of the sick and the dying, bringing the light of Christ into the darkest corners of our world.
In a parish setting, a deacon’s general role is to assist the pastor in carrying out his pastoral responsibilities. As an ordained cleric, a deacon can preside at the sacrament of baptism; proclaim the Gospel and preach; preside at funerals, graveside services, and wake services; witness marriages, and of course, distribute Holy Eucharist. He cannot preside at mass which, of course, would include praying over the gifts of bread and wine that they may become the Body and Blood of the Lord, a privilege reserved for those ordained as priests. Nor can a deacon preside in celebrations of the sacrament of penance or anointing of the sick.
With over 18,000 ordained deacons in the United States alone, these men, along with their wives and families, continue to serve the people of God. Here at the Parish of St. James, we are most fortunate to have with us, Deacon Wayne T. Padula and Deacon Michael Gomes. As parishioners, we have all experienced the unique gifts each man brings to his ministry and we are grateful that they heeded God’s call to this vocation.
Sources: USCCB, FAQ’s About Deacons; Diocese of Manchester, NH, Who is a Permanent Deacon and What Does He Do?; Canon Law Made Easy – Church Law for Normal People; and The Pontifical North American College – What is a Deacon?
Please note that there will be no afternoon or evening Masses on Christmas Day.
In observance of the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Mass will be celebrated on December 31st at 5:00 pm in the church and on January 1st at 10:00 am in the church.
Join us for our next parish Young Adult Open Mic Night on Saturday, January 24th! Immediately following the 5:00 pm Mass, we will meet in the parish center room 101 for music, fun, food, and fellowship. All singers, musicians, poets, and artists are invited to perform. To sign up to perform, please contact Jeanine Morelli at (631) 246-9630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rosary walks will take place on the first Saturday of every month (weather permitting). The final walk for 2014 took place on December 6th, so please check back soon for the 2015 calendar. We meet by the tabernacle after the 8:00 am Mass. Honor Mary on this special day of reparation by joining your fellow parishioners in prayer, song and exercise! Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and be prepared to walk at least 2 miles.