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Six ordained permanent deacons for Boston

By Mark Labbe Pilot Staff
Posted: 10/21/2016

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The six candidates for the diaconate in their places at the beginning of the ordination Mass. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

SOUTH END -- For Chris Ohlandt, seeing his friend John Czajkowski ordained a permanent deacon at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Oct. 15, required taking a flight from Maryland. But, he said, it was a trip worth making.

"You don't get to see this that often. This is a first for me -- I'm 51 years old and I've never seen anything like this before. It's incredible," said Ohlandt, speaking to The Pilot following the Mass.

He said he had just texted his wife, who had remained in Maryland to watch their two children, to tell her how wonderful the ordination was.

"To know the journey that he ( Deacon Czajkowski) has gone through -- he started in Maryland and then finished here -- that's just amazing. To see him now as a deacon is just... wow," said Ohlandt.

Deacon Czajkowski, along with Deacons Paul Breadmore, Joseph Cooley, Charles Hanafin, John Kobrenski, and John Koza, were all ordained to the order of permanent deacon during the Mass, which was celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley.

The deacon, from the Greek word "diakonos," meaning servant or minister, is the first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church. Among the many functions they perform in parishes, deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings, and rites of Christian burial, as well as aid the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel, and deliver homilies. In addition to a parish assignment, each of the new deacons will also assist in one of the ministries of the archdiocese.

In his homily, the cardinal addressed the deacons, and spoke to them about the important role they will have in the liturgical process. Yet, he reminded them to be humble.

"In the life of the priest, (and) of deacon, there can be no dichotomy between our cultic or liturgical role and the humble services we must give, as in washing the feet of our brothers and sisters. The towel should be as emblematic as the stole, for our deacons and priests, whose humble service must reflect the humble and loving service of the Good Shepherd," he said.

The cardinal also reminded the deacons to be merciful, and added that this is especially essential as the new deacons were ordained during the Year of Mercy.

"Your preaching of the word needs to be confirmed by works of mercy. Indeed, you are being ordained deacons during this Jubilee of Mercy. Your task is to help promote the culture of mercy in our faith communities," said Cardinal O'Malley.

"Have a special love to the poor and the sick, be a friend of immigrants, strangers, and prisoners," he continued.

The cardinal said the deacon must be a "man of hospitality," and joked that deacons should be required to take courses from a hotel on hospitality before being ordained.

"You must work to make people feel welcomed, and work to make their experience of Church uplifting. Work to make the liturgy beautiful, so that people can experience a community of faith and joy and glimpse God's beauty," he said.

Beginning during the Liturgy of the Word, the candidates were presented to Cardinal O'Malley after the Gospel reading, at which point he elected them for ordination. Then, after the cardinal's homily, the men filed onto the altar, where they approached the cardinal and pledged obedience to him and his successors. They then lay prostrate in front of the altar, as the assembly, invoking the names of saints, prayed for them.

The ordinations were completed after the deacons approached the cardinal, who laid his hands upon their heads in an act that bestows the Holy Spirit and spoke the prayer of consecration. Following this, the men's wives presented a stole and a dalmatic -- the vestments of the deacon -- to a priest or a deacon who vested their husbands. The new deacons then each approached the cardinal again who presented them with the Book of Gospels, after which the Rite of Ordination was concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace given by Cardinal O'Malley and all the permanent deacons present.

After the Mass, the newly ordained deacons received congratulations from friends and families.

Stephen Koza, son of the newly ordained Deacon John Koza, stood by his father after the Mass as families and friends asked the deacon for blessings.

"This was such a beautiful ceremony. Everything was done just right and so thoughtfully," said Koza.

I was "very proud to see him up there," he said.

Deacon Breadmore, in between greeting people who came by to congratulate him, told The Pilot that he had learned many new things about the Catholic faith while preparing to become a deacon.

"You learn so much, and the more you learn and the more you immerse yourself you realize that God is guiding you through this process," he said.

"It's amazing how God works through us. It's very humbling," Deacon Breadmore said.