Deacon ordination brings much needed joy to diocese
The word on everyone’s lips was joy. And Buffalo never needed joy more than right now.
The Diocese of Buffalo welcomed three new permanent deacons on May 21 during a special Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral.
“My brothers and sisters, this is a joyful day; a day when we celebrate an ancient rite of ordination to the diaconate. That order that goes all the way back to our Lord’s ministry of charity and service,” said Bishop Michael W. Fisher in welcoming the family and friends of Mark Bialkowski, Timothy Haley, MD, and Andrew Mical.
The Rite of Ordination took place following the Gospel reading, with Father David Baker, director of Vocations for the diocese, asking for those about to be ordained come forward.
“Most reverend father, Holy Mother Church asks you to ordain these men, our brothers to the responsibility of the diaconate,” he said to Bishop Fisher.
Father Baker then testified that, after inquiry among the Christian people and those concerned with their formation, he has found them to be worthy.
“Relying on the help of our Lord God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, we chose these, our brothers, to the order of the diaconate,” Bishop Fisher said in affirmation, to a round of applause.
“Today our diocese in Buffalo rejoices as we celebrate the ordination of Tim Haley, Andrew Mical and Mark Bialkowski as permanent deacons. At such a time when we are surrounded by so much uncertainty in the wake of such tragedy and racial violence in our city, war in Ukraine still raging, unrest in our world and in our communities, the fact that Tim, Andrew and Mark are ready to dedicate their lives to serve the needs of others as deacons is a sure and certain sign of God’s loving presence in providential care in our midst,” Bishop Fisher said in his homily.
“Today’s ordination also brings a particular joy to our diocesan life. And this joy is shared by their wives, Melissa, Jennifer and Stephanie, and by your children together with all you family and friends. And especially by fellow clergy in the parish communities you have been called to serve in a new way today.”
Although the duties of deacon have grown over the years, the core of their ministry is charity and service.
“In your relationship with our Lord, your eyes are now refocused – refocusing so you can see those who He wants you to serve as deacons. The grace you receive today is already a fulfillment of your life’s calling, something you have been discerning over many years, and preparing for,” the bishop continued.
In closing, the bishop advised, “Keep nothing back from the Lord. Be wholehearted in your commitment to Him. Be generous in dedicating your time, your energy, and your interests to the commission the Church is giving you today. Listen and heed the words of Peter’s first letter as each one has received the gift. Use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied gifts.”
After vesting with the help of their wives and mentors, each of the three men promised to proclaim the Gospel through word and deed, resolve to increase the spirit of prayer, conform the manner of life to that of Christ, and promised obedience.
“May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment,” the bishop said.
After presenting each deacon a copy of the Book of Gospels, he instructed each to, “believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Following Mass, Deacon Bialkowski said that word again.
“I just have the feeling of immense joy. This is a wonderful celebration and I’m just happy to be of service to God and His people,” he said, adding he is “looking forward to serving people and bringing the Gospel to them.”
“It has been a whirlwind of five years,” said his wife, Stephanie, describing the years of inquiry and study that deacons undergo. “Helping him by taking a load away from him so he could focus on studies and formation preparation, and welcoming another child into the world during formation added to the craziness of it all, but it was all worthwhile.”
At 38, Deacon Bialkowski is one of the youngest to enter the order of deacon. The decision came as no surprise to his family.
“When Mark and I first met he was actually considering the priesthood,” said Stephanie. “So, we knew faith and service to the Church was always strong within our relationship. He always had a calling and a pulling in his heart for formation, something more than being a parishioner. So, this was a no-brainer. It wasn’t an ‘if’ it was a ‘when’ it would happen.”
Deacons wives are a key part of the ministry. They support their husbands in many ways, from helping set up for a baptism to offering a shoulder after a hard funeral to taking care of their kids as the deacons take care of others.
Jennifer Mical described herself as “so excited and so proud” at her husband’s ordination.
She has undergone her own spiritual growth in the past five years.
“I have grown so much,” she said. “They have sessions for wives where we talk about spirituality every month. Just being able to ask questions of current deacons’ wives out in the community and getting support and being ablate pray for my other deacons’ wives and having them pray for me and our intentions. It’s brought us closer together, but it’s brought us closer to God as well.”
Deacon Bill Broderick made his own diaconal promise a year ago. He offers advice to the new men.
“I would say that they need to focus on what they are doing. Don’t take too much on. Go for quality over quantity. Let yourself settle in, then you can start picking stuff up afterward.”