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Called to serve 2018 Diocese of Rochester Priestly and Diaconal Ordinations

Bishop Salvatore R. Matano recently ordained one diocesan priest, two transitional deacons on the path to priesthood, and three permanent deacons. Below are stories and photos from both ordination Masses.

Priestly Ordination, June 2

Story by Mike Latona/Photos by Jeff Witherow

Even though he had been preparing for the day for several years, Father Jeff Chichester was still having trouble grasping the fact he’d actually just been ordained a priest.

“I feel ecstatic. It’s such a surreal experience,” a beaming Father Chichester EXCLAIMED following his june 2 ordination Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. “As many ordinations as I’ve been to, actually being ordained is beyond anything I could ever imagine. It’s very humbling.”

Father Chichester, 43, was ordained by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano, who also served as homilist for the two-hour liturgy.

Above: Then-Deacon Jeff Chichester prepares to process into Sacred Heart Cathedral at the start of the priestly ordination Mass June 2. Right: Deacon Daniel White holds the Book of the Gospels before the procession.

Top left: Then-Deacon Chichester enters Sacred Heart Cathedral. Top right: Bishop Matano greets Elaine Chichester, mother of the ordinand, during the procession. Bottom left: The ordinand bows before the altar. Bottom right: Bishop Matano gives the homily.
Bishop Matano speaks directly to the ordinand during his homily.

The event’s importance was underscored during the Rite of Ordination, when Bishop Matano formally elected Deacon Chichester for ordination and the congregation showed its consent — in the form of a long ovation that grew louder and louder, with many well-wishers rising to their feet.

The ordinand pledges his obedience to Bishop Matano.

Later in the rite Bishop Matano laid his hands on Father Chichester’s head, ordaining and conferring the Holy Spirit upon him. Then, a long line of priests took turns laying their hands on Father Chichester, indicating an unbroken lineage dating back to the apostles.

Then-Deacon Chichester prostrates himself before the altar.
Left: Then-Deacon Chichester prostrates himself before the altar. Right: Bishop Matano lays his hands on the ordinand's head.
Above: Msgr. Gerard Krieg lays his hand on Father Chichester's head. Right: A priest lays his hands upon the head of the ordinand.
Father Michael Fowler lays his hands on the head of the ordinand.
Diocesan priests line up for the laying on of hands.

Father Chichester said that his personal highlights from the Mass included music from the diocesan choir, which he described as “just fantastic,” as well as “the prayerful support of all the people who were here, as well as those who wanted to be here and couldn’t be.” He noted that a busload of people traveled north to the Mass from his home parish of St. Luke the Evangelist in Livingston County, and that additional supporters were on hand from parishes around the diocese at which he has served while preparing for the priesthood. Father Chichester’s mother, Elaine, served as lector for the Mass (his father, David, passed away in 2014), and several family members brought up the gifts.

Father Chichester is vested during the Mass.
Bishop Matano anoints Father Chichester's hands.
Above: Father Bernard Dan greets the newly ordained Father Chichester. Right: Priests line up to welcome Father Chichester to the brotherhood of priests.
Above: The chalice is prepared at the start of Mass. Right: Bishop Matano during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Above: Bishop Matano during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Left: Altar servers kneel before the altar during the liturgy.
Elaine Chichester receives Communion from her newly ordained son.

As soon as Mass concluded, many priests, deacons and laypeople stepped forward to exchange greetings and receive blessings from the newly ordained priest. And he was more than happy to oblige, greeting the flock with a nonstop stream of smiles, hugs and handshakes.

Father Chichester recesses from the cathedral.

Father Chichester is due to begin his first priestly assignment at St. Joseph and Holy Spirit parishes in Penfield, where he will serve as parochial vicar.

Left: Father Chichester blesses Father Anthony Amato. Right: Members of the congregation line up to receive blessings from the newly ordained priest.
“It’s a point of fulfillment, something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Father Chichester said of his ordination. “With a lot of prayers, and God willing, I’ll hopefully serve the church well for many years to come.”

Diaconal Ordination, May 26

Story by Annette Jiménez/Photos by Jeff Witherow

While beautiful choral music and communal prayer punctuated many of the parts of the May 26 deacon ordination Mass, one of the most significant moments took place in complete silence.

That moment of silence occurred when Bishop Salvatore R. Matano laid hands on each of the deacons and conferred upon them the Holy Spirit.

Bishop Matano ordained Deacons Binh-Yen Nguyen, Michael Kristan and James Pegoni as permanent deacons May 26 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, while Deacons Matthew Walter and Daniel White were ordained transitional deacons on the path to priesthood.

“I felt a chill,” said Deacon Nguyen of the laying on of hands. “It was a very emotional moment. … There’s a connection way back to the apostles.”

Front: James Pegoni processes into Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral at the start of the May 26 diaconal ordination Mass. Back: Altar servers process into the cathedral.
Front: Binh-Yen Nguyen bows before the altar. Back: Priests kiss the altar at the end of the procession.

Deacon Nguyen, 46, is a Vietnam native who lived in Florida until 2009. At the ordination, he was surrounded by his family, including his wife, Vy, and their two young daughters, ages 4 and 7. Many parishioners from the Vietnamese faith community at Parish of the Holy Family in Gates also were present.

For Deacon Walter, the moment represented saying yes to God. A parishioner of Our Lady of Victory/St. Joseph in Rochester, he currently attends St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass.

“I know I’m giving myself to God,” said Deacon Walter, 36. “The bishop is accepting (me) for the church … and for the saving of souls.”

Vocations are God’s way of saying to the faithful, “I’m still here,” to heal them, shelter them and care for them, he added.

“It’s very beautiful,” said Deacon Walter.

Top left: Diaconal candidates stand before Bishop Salvatore R. Matano. Top right: Bishop Matano bows before being seated. Bottom: Michael Kristan, Binh-Yen Nguyen and Matthew Walter stand before taking their seats before the homily.
Daniel White (above) and James Pegoni (right) pledge their obedience to Bishop Matano.

Receiving the Book of the Gospels from Bishop Matano is something Deacon Kristan had most looked forward to before the ordination Mass. In speaking with the Catholic Courier following the Mass, he was overcome with emotion in trying to find words to express how he had felt when the moment arrived.

Upon presenting the Book of the Gospels to each deacon, Bishop Matano said: “Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you’ve become. Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.”

“The holy father looking into my eyes, blessing me … it felt like an intimate moment with Christ through his church,” said Deacon Kristan, 53. “It was very powerful.”

A Rochester native, he began formation for the diaconate in 2013. His wife, Angela, proclaimed the first reading during the Mass.

The diaconal candidates prostrate before the altar.
Left: Ordinands prostrate themselves before the altar. Right: Michael Kristan lies prostrate before the altar.

Deacon Pegoni celebrated his ordination — and his 53rd birthday — at his home parish. Members of the Cathedral Community were among those who initially encouraged the Brockport native to pursue the diaconate.

Lying prostrate on the floor as the congregation sang the “Litany of Supplication” will serve as one of the most special memories of the ordination for him.

“When I got up, I felt renewed strength,” he said. “It was a wonderful, inspiring experience.”

Left: The ordinands kneel before the altar. Above: Bishop Matano lays his hands on the head of Daniel White.

Before the final blessing of the Mass, Bishop Matano encouraged the permanent deacons to love their families, wives and children.

“What a beautiful manifestation of constant service you are to your communities,” he added. “The care for your family, the love for your family; that is a magnificent gift to the church.”

Bishop Matano also noted that the transitional deacons would be in the diocese’s constant prayers as they complete their final year of seminary.

Above: Deacon White is vested during Mass. Left: Deacon Kristan receives the Book of the Gospels.
Above: Deacon Walter is vested during Mass. Left: Deacon Nguyen is presented with the Book of the Gospels.
Above: Bishop Matano embraces Deacon Pegoni. Right: Permanent deacons line up to greet the newly ordained deacons.

In his homily, the bishop reminded all the deacons that they are messengers of God’s word. And while the warm May weather doesn’t remind one of Christmas, the day of Christ’s birth is at the heart of the ordination rite, Bishop Matano said.

“My sons, as deacons, you are called to be evangelists of Jesus Christ,” he said. “You have the privilege now of being those angelic voices that … announced, ‘I bring you good news of great joy. Today is born Christ the Savior.’ As servants of the Gospel, you, too, must proclaim the message of Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, present among us just as truly as he was present at Bethlehem. For through the incarnation and the Eucharist, Jesus is ever faithful to his promise.”

Seminarian Joseph Martuscello kneels during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Deacon White, 34, said he will take to heart the message of the homily, to proclaim God’s word even as he prepares for his priestly ordination next year. Previously a friar in the Order of Discalced Carmelites, he is completing his formation at St. John’s Seminary.

“To live out that (ministry of the Word) is something to take to heart,” he said.

Bishop Matano consecrates the Eucharist.
Top left: Deacons Nguyen (above) and Kristan (below) help to distribute Communion. Top right and bottom: Deacons Kristan, Walter and White recess out of the cathedral at the end of Mass.

Unless otherwise noted, all material © 2018, Rochester Catholic Press Association, Inc.

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