On Saturday, Dec. 5, Bishop Felipe J. Estévez ordained 12 men to the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of St. Augustine. The ceremony was at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jacksonville and Msgr. Michael Morgan was the homilist.
The men ordained on Saturday, represent the fifth class of men to complete the Permanent Deacon Formation Program since it was established in the Diocese of St. Augustine by Bishop Victor Galeone in 2005.
Deacons played a great role in the early history of the Roman Catholic Church. They were ordained to assist the apostles by serving the Christian community in charitable outreach. But the holy order gradually disappeared in the Middle Ages as the diaconate became more of a transitional step to priestly ordination. The Second Vatican Council reinstated the diaconate as a “distinct and permanent rank of the hierarchy” willed by Jesus and the apostles. Today it is thriving as men from diverse backgrounds have stepped forward to proclaim the Gospel and to serve God’s people.
In his homily, Msgr. Morgan addressed the question as to why deacons receive the sacrament of holy orders.
“You’re being ordained by the Bishop because of a deep calling to service, which will now become a character trait of your very lives. As deacons you’ll be members of an order of clergy meant to be special witnesses in the midst of the Church to Christ’s very own ministry of service. Church documents speak of the deacon being ordained to ‘sacramentalize service’ and to be an ‘icon of Christ the servant’ – a living, breathing, sacramental sign in our midst. That’s why he’s [the deacon] ordained,” explained Msgr. Morgan.
In November, Bishop Estévez announced the assignments for each of the deacons to be ordained. All assignments are effective Dec. 5 and have a three-year term:
- Deacon George Barletta – Christ the King Parish, Jacksonville
- Deacon David Belanger – St. Patrick Parish, Jacksonville
- Deacon Michael Elison – San Juan del Rio Parish, St. Johns
- Deacon Michael Federico – Prince of Peace Parish, Jacksonville
- Deacon Robert Garner – St. Joseph Parish, Jacksonville
- Deacon Brian Hughes – Blessed Trinity Parish, Jacksonville and Campus Ministry at JU
- Deacon Edward Prisby – St. Paul Parish, Jacksonville Beach
- Deacon Santiago Rosado-Rodriguez – San Sebastian Parish, St. Augustine
- Deacon Angel Sanchez – San José Parish, Jacksonville and Campus Ministry at UNF
- Deacon Mark Sciullo – Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, St. Augustine
- Deacon Paul Testa – Queen of Heaven Parish, Jacksonville
- Deacon Milton Vega – Most Holy Redeemer Parish, Jacksonville
To read the full text of Msgr. Morgan’s homily, click here.