ORLANDO | True joy radiated from the new workers in God’s vineyard as hundreds of invited guests celebrated the men of God. Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe was an extraordinary blessing on Oct. 3.
As the 14 men sat in the round before Bishop John Noonan, he shared with them that the Ordination was a perfect ending to a week filled with reasons to celebrate – the feast days of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Holy Guardian Angels, St. Jerome and Sts. Michael and Gabriel, archangels. The bishop called to mind the focus of the deacons’ mission and their responsibility.
“We say that God is love, this is the God you must embrace in your life and ministry,” said Bishop Noonan referring to St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s description of Church as a heart “aflame with love.”
Newly ordained Deacon Dan Bassile, of Holy Name of Jesus of Indialantic, felt that love as Bishop Noonan laid his hands upon him. With his eyes filled with tears, the deacon said the Ordination was an answer to his dreams.
“I could feel the God of love and peace come through the bishop’s hands and fill my whole body. I could not believe I was experiencing this,” he said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
Culminating a journey of 25 years, each hug during the fraternal kiss filled him with gratitude for the accompaniment of his “brothers” in service.
“They know the story. … So, as God finally allowed His grace to pour forth, everybody has been so joyful throughout this day,” Deacon Bassile said. “Through the gift of the Eucharist and His unbelievable and amazing mercy, He has transformed my heart. He has made me merciful and loving to those I encounter – in every area of my life.”
Affirming this grace, Bishop Noonan told the 14 men, “It is God’s power that must occupy the core effectiveness of a deacon’s mission.” To allow this power to infiltrate their being, Bishop Noonan said a life of prayer as essential in addition to a penitent heart. Encouraging them to take on Pope Francis’s challenge to “dig into your heart and acknowledge you are a sinner,” he offered the pope’s simple daily prayer to fulfill and sustain their ministry: “Lord, let me know You, so that I may know myself.”
Deacon David Sorondo, of St. Ann Parish in Debary, said the “sense of service” attracted him to the diaconate. “Service is at the forefront of what I feel God is asking me to do,” he said.
As he prepared for the big day, he said practiced just like for a wedding rehearsal. “There were no surprises,” he said pausing as he became emotional—“until I walked down to bless my family as a deacon.”
For Deacon Nelson Cruz, of St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Orlando, the long-awaited day was an answer to a call he had received years prior. He held in his heart “shepherd my sheep.” As he processed down the aisle, he thought of all the years he has served in ministries.
“As I approached the altar, I thought, wow, I am fulfilling (God’s) call,” he said. “From that moment on everything just changed.”
The day was also poignant for his wife, Nilda. “We’re going to be serving the Lord as a couple, a marriage. For me it’s emotional and my calling for the Lord. I knew the calling was there for (Nelson) for many, many years –the burning sensation was in his heart, his spirit. Knowing he is going to serve the Lord is the most important thing for me.”
Now, it is time for each deacon to fulfill the mission given, as Bishop Noonan presented them with the Book of the Gospels he said, “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, October 6, 2020