“You didn’t choose this any more than you chose the decision to be born or the time that you were born,” Bishop Nelson Perez told Joshua Cochrac and Joseph Robinson during their ordination to the sacred order of deacon on April 6 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
“You were chosen by God. You were called to this holy thing. This turns things around,” the bishop said. “You’ve been saying ‘I think I want to be a priest,’ but the Church says ‘I chose you,’” he said, adding that the two men also were chosen and elected to become deacons by the Church of Cleveland.
The first part of the rite of ordination is election of the candidates, followed by consent of the people. The candidates were presented to the bishop by Father Mark Latcovich, president-rector of Saint Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology. He also affirmed that they had fulfilled the requirements for ordination to the diaconate.
Bishop Perez told the new deacons that their families, friends, teachers, spiritual advisors, professors, the Church of Cleveland and many others were all part of who they are today. He also reminded them their journey will continue as they move toward ordination to the priesthood next year -- “God willing,” he added. The bishop also acknowledged the seminary faculty, staff and administrators for their help in preparing the new deacons.
“Many people are called to minister in the Church. All of us, actually, are called by virtue of our baptism, but you are called to a greater service. From this moment – as a deacon – you are a servant to all,” Bishop Perez said.
He shared some thoughts from Pope Francis on service, pointing out the first step is to be available. The new deacons must be generous and to give back to God. “One who serves is not a slave of his own agenda; he is always ready to serve and open to God’s constant surprises,” the bishop said. “You will find your time is not your own – it belongs to Christ and is directed toward the service of his people,” he added.
“How blessed are you and the people of Cleveland to have you at their service,” he told the new deacons.
During their ordination, the new deacons were prone on the cathedral floor during the litany of supplication to symbolize their submission to God’s will. The laying on of hands, prayer of ordination, investiture with a stole and dalmatic (a vestment worn by deacons assisting during Mass), handing on of the Book of Gospels and the kiss of peace by the bishops, priests and deacons also took place during the liturgy.
Deacon Cochrac is the son of Gwen and the late Raymond Cochrac of Olmsted Falls. His home parish is St. Mary of the Falls in Olmsted Falls.
Deacon Robinson is the son of Timothy and Faith Robinson of Brook Park. His home parish is Mary Queen of the Apostles Parish in Brook Park.
The new deacons will help the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the Word, of the altar and of charity, showing themselves to be servants to all. Ordained deacons administer baptism, assist at the altar at Mass and distribute the Eucharist, bring the Eucharist as viaticum to the dying, read the sacred Scriptures to the faithful and, on occasion, preach. They also preside at the Church’s public prayer, administer sacramentals, assist at and bless marriages and officiate at funeral and burial rites.
They will minister as deacons while continuing their studies and formation for priestly ordination next spring.
Deacon Cochrac will serve at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Wickliffe and Deacon Robinson will serve at SS. Robert and William Parish in Euclid for the next year.