Sixteen men were ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Saturday, Sept. 10. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki said it was the largest class in almost 25 years. (Photos by David Bernacchi)

With the largest diaconal ordination class in almost 25 years, some things had to change.

While it normally occurs at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, this year’s permanent deacon ordination took place Saturday, Sept. 10, at a packed Christ King Parish in Wauwatosa.

Hosting the ordination at the larger parish allowed for more room for family and friends of the 16 new permanent deacons ordained by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki.

After the group received thunderous applause when Archbishop Listecki put the size of the class into context, he added, “A reminder to those who applauded that it is not enough to be the largest but rather to be the greatest. It can only happen through the dedication of these lives to Christ. So may this sign of our love and enthusiasm for the Church be a part of what you represent as a class. Thank you, my brothers, for answering this call, and I look forward to working with you in growing the faith in our Archdiocese of Milwaukee in southeastern Wisconsin. Let his command to love one another guide your diaconate.”

Archbishop Listecki reviewed some of the duties required of the deacons and explained that through the gift of the Holy Spirit, they will assist the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar and of charity, showing themselves to be servants to all.

“As ministers of the altar, they will proclaim the Gospel, prepare the sacrifice and distribute the Lord’s Body and Blood to the faithful,” Archbishop Listecki said. “Furthermore, it will be their duty at the bishop’s direction to exhort believers and unbelievers alike, and to instruct them in holy doctrine. They will preside over public prayer, administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, bring viaticum to the dying and conduct funeral rites. Consecrated by the laying of hands that comes down to us from the apostles and bound more closely to the service of the altar, they will perform works of charity in the name of the bishop or of the pastor, with the help of God. Dare to go about all these duties in such a way that you will recognize them as disciples of him who came not to be served but to serve.”

As deacons, as ministers of Jesus Christ, they come among his disciples as ones who served — do the will of God from the heart, serve the people in love and joy as they would serve the Lord.

“Since no one can serve two masters, look upon all the defilement and avarice as serving false gods. Like those once chosen by the apostles for the ministry of charity, you should be men of good reputation, filled with wisdom and the Holy Spirit, firmly rooted and grounded in faith,” Archbishop Listecki said. “You are to show yourselves chaste and beyond reproach before God and men as is proper for the ministers of Christ and the stewards of God’s mysteries.

“Never allow yourselves to be turned away from the hope offered by the Gospel,” the archbishop continued. “Now you are not only hearers of this Gospel but also its ministers. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience expressed by your actions and the words of God which your lips proclaim, so that the Christian people brought to life by the spirit may be pure offerings accepted by him. Then my brothers, at the last day when you go out to meet the Lord, you will be able to hear him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servants. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’”

Diaconal ministry includes proclaiming the Gospel, leading intercessions, preaching, preparing the altar, celebrating baptisms, leading the faithful in prayer, distributing holy communion, witnessing marriages, and conducting wake and funeral services. Deacons also identify the needs of the poor and underserved and shepherd the church’s resources to meet those needs.

The newly ordained deacons are assigned to ministries in Pleasant Prairie, Elkhorn, Delavan, Waukesha, Oconomowoc, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Northshore Community, MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary, Brookfield, Racine, New Berlin, Racine Youthful Correctional Facility and St. Catherine Commons, Menomonee Falls, St. Ben’s Homeless Ministry and the VA Hospital, Whitefish Bay, and Fox Point.

The new permanent deacons (and their wives) are: Tom and Joanna Binder; Arnold and Mary Bryson; Jerome and Rebecca Campbell; James and Kimmy Casserly; Michael and Cathy Dunn; Brent and Mari Enwright; Jon and Yvonne Gabik; Jeffrey and Maria Kucharski; Jason and Susan Myres; Michael and Jodi Reesman; Raul and Veronica Rueda; Michael and Susan Skupien; Edward and Julie Sosa; Lance and Angie Tappa; John and Julie Van Zeeland; and Brian and Amy Witteman.

Diaconate formation for permanent deacons requires the completion of a comprehensive four-year program through the Office of Diaconate Formation. The programs include human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral dimensions of formation, and a three-year process of continuing formational opportunities for newly ordained deacons (and their wives, if married).