Deacons of the Diocese of Cleveland who are marking the 40th, 35th, 30th, 25th, 20th and 10th anniversaries of their ordination celebrated the occasion at a Mass and reception on May 8 at St. Basil the Great Parish in Brecksville. Bishop Nelson Perez was the celebrant for the liturgy.
Concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries; Father Don Oleksiak, vicar general for the diocese; and Father Dan Schlegel, secretary and vicar for clergy and religious.
Bishop emeritus Anthony Pilla, who ordained most of the deacons celebrating jubilees this year, was in attendance.
The following deacons, who were ordained on June 18, 1978, are celebrating their 40th anniversary: Deacon Daniel J. Matusicky and Deacon Willard C. Payne. A third member of the class, Deacon David Kinzel, is deceased.
Ordained on June 4, 1983 and celebrating their 35th anniversary are: Deacon William T. Elwood, Deacon Frank A. Humphrey III, Deacon Edward J. McCarthy Jr., Deacon Louis G. Pecek, Deacon George J. Reiland Jr., Deacon John A. Talerico and Deacon Louis M. Woyton. Deceased members of their class are Deacon John M. Buda, Deacon Ross C. DeJohn Sr., Deacon Edmund J. Karecki, Deacon Joseph J. Savage, Deacon Edward A. Telepak and Deacon Thomas J. Waken.
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of his May 21, 1988 ordination is Deacon Robert J. Dybo. Deceased members of his class are Deacon Geza Balint, Deacon Joseph W. Johnson and Deacon Leonard A. Sloan.
Ordained on May 22, 1993 and celebrating 25 years in the diaconate are Deacon Raymond L. Daull, Deacon Dennis L. Smith and Deacon Peter M. Travalik. Deceased members of their class are Deacon John A. Koch Jr., Deacon John M. Miklosovic and Deacon Robert P. Ulman.
Twenty-year jubilarians, who were ordained on May 23, 1998, are Deacon Richard C. Butz, Deacon Charles B. Doerpers, Deacon Paul J. Hlabse Sr., Deacon Joseph R. Kovitch, Deacon Daniel E. Norris, Deacon David E. Pecot, Deacon John K. Slatcoff and Deacon Carl M. Toomey.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of their May 3, 2008 ordination are Deacon Daniel E. Bryan, Deacon David N. Chordas, Deacon Edmund A. Gardias, Deacon Robert H. Grgic, Deacon Gregory P. Leisure, Deacon George P. Malec, Deacon David E. Nethery and Deacon Gregory A. Wunderle.
In his homily, Bishop Perez acknowledged the sacrifice deacons’ wives make in sharing their husbands with the Church.
“You wouldn’t be here without their approval,” he told the assembled deacons.
The bishop also said the deacons are like pilots, charting a course for future deacons. He said since the permanent diaconate was reinstituted in the Church 50 years ago, it has taken time to discern the role they play.
“The Church in her wisdom realized that deacons needed to be an order,” he said. “Deacons are not ordained just to roam around the altar. They are to be out in the world to help make the Word of God more present in the world.”
He recalled one of his theology professors saying that “Liturgy is life and life is liturgy. He meant that liturgy only has meaning if it is lived out liturgically,” the bishop said, adding that just celebrating the ritual is not enough. “What we celebrate liturgically we have to live – that’s what makes liturgy come alive.”
While deacons have a role in the Church, the bishop said they must live out their role in the world, as well. “You’re a minister at that table,” he said, pointing to the altar. “You set the table for the people of God. You represent the voice of the people of God. What happens at that table (altar) has to be lived out in your life of charity.”
He said the deacons’ charism “is to watch out for the widows and orphans,” adding, “ordained ministry is not just about what you do at the altar. A time will come when you no longer can do what you were ordained to do, but you are no less of a deacon. Your charism is Christ the servant, while the icon for a priest is Christ the person and for a bishop, it’s all of these.”
Bishop Perez told the jubilarians this is a good time for them to reflect on the roots of the call they received.
“We should be grateful for the gift given us by the Church for the good of the Church. Be grateful and have a grateful heart,” he said.
Each group of jubilarians posed for a photo with the three bishops before heading to the parish hall for a reception and fellowship.
Diocesan priests who are celebrating the 60th, 50th, 40th and 25th anniversaries of their ordination will celebrate with Bishop Perez on May 22.