Five men from parishes across the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland were admitted to candidacy in the formation program that prepares those who are called for service as deacons in the local Church. The admission to candidacy ceremony took place on Sunday evening, Aug. 18, during Mass at the Center for Pastoral Leadership in Wickliffe.
These five men: Robert J. Blackburn from St. Basil the Great Parish, Brecksville; William G. Elwer from St. Jude Parish, Elyria; Michael D. Mucic from St. Mary of the Falls Parish, Olmsted Falls; Robert J. Stegmaier from St. Colette Parish, Brunswick; and Thomas W. Ward from SS. Robert and William Parish, Euclid were joined by their families, friends and many priests and deacons who witnessed their commitment to four years of instruction and formation in the diaconate program in the diocese. The candidates successfully completed their first year as an aspirant in the program and were accepted formally during Mass as candidates for continued formation with the hope of ordination as a deacon when their formation is completed.
Bishop Nelson J. Perez welcomed the candidates and, in his homily, conveyed the meaning of the Scriptures as they relate to those who dedicate their lives in service to the Church. The bishop said that as the candidates pursued the call in their heart to service, “you knew your life would not be the same. Grace comes at a cost but grace is always with a lesson.” The bishop spoke about the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 12, as Jesus came to shake up the world with his love. In Christ, “When life changes and is shaken up, it is always for your good and the good of those you are called to serve.” The bishop said that this step for these men is one in which the Church now agrees with their call. “You felt something in your heart and began a dialogue. We think that what you feel inside is actually something powerful, something the Church now sees in you and begins to form in you in a more formal way.”
A reception followed the Mass.
The Diaconate Formation Office is responsible for the formation of men seeking to pursue a vocation to the permanent diaconate. It is the mission of the office to inform and guide applicants in vocation discernment during the period of aspirancy and candidacy and to provide the human, spiritual, pastoral and academic formation to aspirants and candidates for possible ordination as deacons and appropriate formation and support to their wives (if married) and families. The goal is to enable men to demonstrate the possibility of a diaconal vocation and an appropriate level of readiness for eventual selection to holy orders.
For more information on the diaconate program in the Diocese of Cleveland, visit dioceseofcleveland.org/offices/clergy-religious/contact.