Sixteen deacons ordained to minister with a servant’s heart

“Joy should be evident in our invitation to others to enter into a personal encounter with Christ.” - from the Ten Principles of Missionary Discipleship in Bishop Robert J. McClory’s pastoral letter

GARY – “Relying on the help of God and of our savior, Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the order of the diaconate.”
With those words, Bishop Robert J. McClory accepted 16 men for the Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate for the Diocese of Gary on June 8 at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels.
Using the dalmatic – the long, loose-fitting tunic with wide sleeves worn by a deacon over his alb – as a symbol of the “active, busy service” of a deacon, the bishop compared the garment to “an apron of service, or you can think of it like a work shirt.”
There are some traditional vesting prayers … connected to a particular vestment, said the bishop, repeating the deacon’s prayer: “Endow me, oh Lord, with the garment of salvation, the vestment of joy, and with the dalmatic of justice ever me.”
Salvation, explained Bishop McClory, “that’s our life’s goal, so to have a vestment that reminds us of that is so reassuring, so that our own focus is clear. Justice … you know sometimes we think of justice as if, well, there’s justice and then there’s mercy, as if those are somehow two competing values; justice is actually very closely connected to charity … because as the catechism tells us, with justice, it’s the virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor … there are those who are in need, and the just thing to do, which is also the merciful thing to do … is to meet those needs, so that their dignity is upheld.”
Talking about the ‘vestment of joy,’ the bishop said, “It’s so beautiful that the Church gives us this sense of joy that should be a part of a deacon’s ministry. It also on this very day is the heart of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and so as we reflect upon joy, we’re doing so, so that the Immaculate Heart of Mary would also be reflected and embedded in the hearts of all deacons.
“Mary is full of joy, and a beautiful way to reflect on joy in the scriptures is to see that theme repeated over and over again,” the bishop said. “Jesus says that his teachings that he has spoken to them, he wants that joy, he says, ‘That my joy may remain in you, and your joy may be full. Ask and you’ll receive, and your joy will be complete.’
“The Christian vision is that we should be imbued with joy because of all the things that the Lord has given us. And so to have the heart of Mary embedded in the heart of a deacon is to have a joyful heart,” said Bishop McClory, adding that he has seen joy in this “largest class of deacons we have ever ordained. Having seen this group of 16 men in action, they are joyful … happy to see each other and happy to talk to you.”
That joy was evident in the comments of the ordained. “As the bishop mentioned being joyful, I’m more than that,” said Deacon Alex Kouris of LaPorte, one of two transitional deacons preparing for priestly ordination in a year. “When the bishop said, ‘We choose these men,’ I was overwhelmed with grace, love and mercy. I am so shocked that the Lord has chosen me – I’m his now, I’m all his.”
Deacon Kouris, who will assist at St. James the Less in Highland for the coming year, said he looks forward to sharing the “primary sacrament of salvation” with children and adults through baptism, “bringing them the taste of new life in God’s family.”
Deacon Ivan Alatorre, of Lake Station, also a transitional deacon, exclaimed, “I’m so blessed,” in response to his ordination. “The two moments that really stood out to me were the Litany of Saints, when I felt the intercession of all those saints praying for me, and the laying on of hands by the bishop, when I felt the coming down of the Holy Spirit on me.”
Assigned to St. Paul in Valparaiso this coming year, Deacon Alatorre looks forward to helping with Totus Tuus this summer and visiting the parish school starting this fall. “My spiritual director told me not to take this year for granted, so I really plan to appreciate the many graces to come.”
Permanent Deacon Bill Grimes, who as been assigned to St. Mary in Crown Point and the Diocesan Tribunal, said he is “excited to serve the community” after feeling such “beautiful emotions” from people from his home parish, St. Patrick in Chesterton, as well as family and friends, during the processional. “The spiritual growth and commitment to serving that I experienced through each step of our formation has been amazing.”
Deacon Robert Petro, a permanent deacon who will serve his home parish, St. Patrick, was also touched “by seeing all the love from everyone coming together at the cathedral. I like serving people, trying to be there for them, and I am open to all ministries.”
“Very joyous” was the way Joan Noveroske described her reaction to the ordination of her husband, Deacon Doug Noveroske of Notre Dame in Michigan City. “It was a beautiful ceremony, and when I saw a tear in his eye, I realized that after 5-1/2 years, it’s here.”
Maureen Ortiz of Nativity of Our Savior in Portage, described as “overwhelming joy” when she watched her husband, Deacon Ruben Ortiz II, be vested by one of his mentors, Deacon Dennis Guernsey. She plans to “Keep our focus and eye of the Lord,” as her husband enters prison ministry, a special interest.
Vesting Deacon Anthony Bondi, of Portage, “was a beautiful way to complete our journey, said his mentor, Deacon Tom Maicher of Holy Spirit in Winfield. “The ordination reminded me of what I’ve been called to do. God wrapped his arms around me seven years ago, and I always try to be present and experience and enjoy that love of the Lord.”
Deacon Bondi’s wife, Beth, brought a box of tissues to the Mass and found herself sharing them with family and friends. “As long as I supported him,” she said of her husband’s journey to ordination, “I felt he’d be okay. I prayed for all of them.”
Senior Deacon Robert Marben, of St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center in Valparaiso, mentored four of the new deacons, and compared it to “walking the Road to Emmaus with them, listening to their stories with Jesus in the midst of us. While they were lying on the floor for the Litany of Saints, hearing those names, I felt the sense of service to others and the sense of joy that comes with working together.”


Caption: At the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary, Bishop Robert J. McClory (at right) says prayers over 15 men who stand at the sanctuary during the Mass of Ordination to the Diaconate on June 8. In his homily, the bishop said the clergymen should serve, as St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta recommended, with "JOY - for Jesus, Others and Yourself." (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)