19 men ordained as permanent deacons

In ordaining 19 men as permanent deacons on June 27 at St. Louis Cathedral, Archbishop Gregory Aymond called their new ministry of ordained service to the church “a great privilege but also a tremendous responsibility.”

“The natural question is, ‘How can I do this with love and effectiveness?’” Archbishop Aymond asked in his homily. “May I suggest to you, my brothers, be humble, don’t be taken in by your new title, by your place in the sanctuary or by the vestments that you wear. They are part of your life as a deacon, yes, but they are there only to remind you that you are sent in the name of the Lord Jesus not to be served but to serve and to be there for God’s people.”

Archbishop Aymond also told the men, who will join the 224 permanent deacons already serving in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, to stay close to Christ in prayer and also remain deeply connected to their families, especially their wives, and their brother deacons.

“My brothers, we can read your hearts, and they are overwhelmed with gratitude,” Archbishop Aymond said. “You are very eager to say yes to the Lord today. We ask you to read our hearts ... and the hearts of those who have supported you in any way. In our hearts, we believe that God has called you. We believe God has given you the gifts to fulfill this ministry. We promise to walk with you and to support you, not just today but all the days of your ministry.”

The 19 new permanent deacons are Deacons Charles E. Allen, Maurice V. Casadaban, Daniel L. Dashner, Ronald J. Drez Jr., Leonard E. Enger II, Michael A. Fabre Sr., Jody J. Fortunato, Stephen J. Gordon, Dennis J. Hickey, Thomas M. Kratochvil, James C. LeBlanc, Philip G. McManamon, George E. Merritt Jr., Robert E. Pendzimaz, Brian P. Soileau Sr., Jeffrey J. Stein, Vinh Van Tran, Kenneth J. Uhlich Jr. and Henry P. Wellmeyer.

The archbishop said the new deacons are being called to a life of ordained service that involves three major components: making the presence of Christ the Servant present; teaching and preaching on the Gospels; and leading the congregation in prayer, baptizing, witnessing marriages and burying the dead.

He urged the new deacons to prayerfully prepare their homilies “so that it can be food for people in their journey with the Lord. You will serve at the table and give food to those who hunger for the word of God. We want to make sure that we do not get in God’s way.”

Deacons share their awe
After the Mass, several deacons expressed their spiritual exhilaration.

Deacon Jody Fortunato:
“I am in awe of the gifts God has given both to me and to my family and his church,” Deacon Fortunato said. “I hope as an ordained deacon I can be a faithful minister to Christ, and I’m grateful to the Lord for this vocation. It means that I will have to conform my life in a far greater way than I ever imagined to the will of God and Christ for me and my family.”

Deacon James LeBlanc:
“I hope to serve the people of God exactly how he wants me and expects me to serve,” said Deacon LeBlanc. “This means the world to me. I never dreamed I was ever worthy. I’m still having trouble believing that I’m worthy, but I’ve got to tell you, I am so filled with the Holy Spirit right now. My emotions are shocked.”

Deacon Stephen Gordon:
“I want to be a servant of people for the rest of my life, and that makes me feel good,” added Deacon Gordon. “I want to get the graces from God by serving other people. I can feel the graces of the Holy Spirit being with me and encouraging me to do my best. It’s been a very long journey but one filled with grace, anticipation and excitement.”

The new deacons have been assigned to parishes across the archdiocese. For a complete list of their assignments, go to www.clarionherald.org.

Cheryl DeJoie-LaCabe contributed to this story. Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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