Once again I headed off to the bustling metropolis of LeRoy, NY, home of Jello and the Jello Museum. On November 6, Brother Dan became Deacon Dan. Now we are members of the Diaconate Clergy, but soon he will proclaim the final vows of priesthood.
After my traveling companions, Bev Battista and Paul O’Neill joined me in buying out the bread store at the Trappist Monastery at the Abbey of the Genesee, we arrived in time to be guest at a wonderful banquet planned for Deacon Dan by the parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Parish. The turn-out showed the great admiration the parish has for Deacon Dan. Love and joy were present as many people hugged him and displayed a sense that they were in the presence of a happy and holy man.
Just think, in the late 90’s he was one of my students in Honors World History at Mayfield High School. Later he became a convert and subsequently applied to the Mercedarians to become a priest.
The Mass and Ordination were very special as the Associate Bishop from Buffalo presided over a spiritual celebration of brotherhood with the clergy present and a large number of parishioners, some from our parish, and many from Philadelphia
I was honored to serve as the Deacon at the Mass, and I was given the very special honor of helping the then Brother Dan into his stole and Dalmatic. I was the first to congratulate him as a fellow Deacon. What an inspiration he has been to me in my spiritual journey.
Being present at the altar and watching him take his vows reassured me of the presence of the Holy Spirit at that moment. The beauty of the Litany of Saints sung by the choir and the powerful words expressed by the Bishop moved Deacon Dan and me emotionally.
I am so proud of him. We all should be for it is within our parish that he stepped forward, gave all of his possessions away, and followed the voice of Our Lord. In our own small way, we, through our prayers, helped him to discern his vocation and follow through on it. We all should be proud. As we left the Church, I turned to Deacon Dan and asked for his first blessing. This caught him off guard at first, but after I explained to him one of his new gifts, he formally blessed me, and we laughed and we hugged. And thought: Isn’t this what life is all about?