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Diocese welcomes trio of new permanent deacons

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Bishop Michael W. Fisher blesses the class of 2021 deacons; William Broderick Jr. (from left), Timothy J. Coughlin and Gregory P. Gaulin during the Ordination of Deacons Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral. Photo by Dan Cappellazzo

Three men were welcomed to the order of the permanent diaconate as Bishop Michael Fisher ordained William Broderick Jr., Timothy J. Coughlin and Gregory P. Gaulin during a celebration of the sacrament of holy orders. The May 22, event took place at St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown Buffalo.

 “This is a historic and blessed day in the life of the Church of Buffalo,” Bishop Fisher announced. “Today, we ordain these men, these husbands, these fathers, these brothers, these friends to the order of deacons. It is truly an ancient rite we participate in today.”

The class of 2021 deacons; (from left) Gregory P. Gaulin, Timothy J. Coughlin and William D. Broderick Jr. stand in front of the altar during their ordination Mass on May 22.

The origins of the order of deacons can be traced back to the Acts of the Apostles, specifically Acts 6:1-6. In the early days of the Catholic Church, deacons were understood to hold a special place in the community, along with bishops and presbyters. The role of all ordained ministers is to be modeled on the life of Christ. Deacons specifically act as Christ the servant.

Beginning as early as the fifth century, there was a gradual decline in the permanent diaconate in the Latin church, although it remained a vital part of the Eastern churches, both Catholic and Orthodox. One important factor was simply a failure on the part of both presbyters and deacons to understand the unique value of the diaconate as a distinct order in its own right.

The Second Vatican Council called for restoration of the diaconate as a permanent level of Holy Orders. In June 1967, Pope Paul VI implemented this decree of the council when he published the apostolic letter “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem” (“The Sacred Order of the Diaconate”) in which he re-established the permanent diaconate in the Latin Church.

Deacons are sometimes looked at as second-class minister, seen only as what they can or cannot do compared to a priest.

“People who think or write in this framework fail to understand the diaconate and fail to understand true diaconal ministry, which flows directly from the ministry and charitable life of our Lord, Jesus. The role of deacons is not just about doing things. It is a call to be configured in a special way to Jesus to serve and represent in a special way in the life of the Church,” the bishop said.

Following the bishop’s homily, the candidates were called forth and asked to resolve discharging the office of deacon with humble charity in order to assist the priestly order and to benefit the Christian people, to hold fast the mystery of faith with clear conscience, and maintain a strong prayer life.

One at a time each man knelt in front of the bishop and promised obedience to him and his successors. Then, after being presented with Gospel, was told to “Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.”

Chris Gaulin looks on as her husband, Gregory (left), gets assistance from his brother Deacon John Gaulin as he vests during his ordination Mass. Photo by Dan Cappellazzo

At the close of Mass, each man received his parish ministry and ministry of charity assignments. Deacon Gaulin will serve at St. Gregory the Great Parish, Williamsville, and Via Fidei and Renewal. Deacon Broderick will serve at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Springbrook, and St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. Deacon Coughlin will serve at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the Office of Pastoral Ministries – Pro-Life Activities.

“I’m very proud. He’s put in a lot of work and he’s very dedicated. We’re all very proud of him,” said Chris Gaulin about her husband’s ordination, adding his family supported him throughout his five years of study and many weekends of in the field ministry.

“It’s a lot of work, but you know what the ultimate goal is, so you make it work,” added Colleen Broderick, who plans to help her husband at St.  Luke’s.

Although there is some sacrifice on behalf of the family, the Coughlins turned Deacon Tim’s work into a family project at Mother Teresa Home.

“There were many days when Tim could not participate in family activities because he was either at class or at a deacon weekend, and also to studying, writing those papers,” said Colleen Coughlin. “Then of course he had his ministry of charity. But during those times, when he wasn’t doing it alone, he would incorporate our family into it. which was beautiful. We got to participate and serve the community as well.” 

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