Bishop Ordains Transitional Deacon for the Diocese

A new Transitional Deacon was welcomed into the Diocese May 18 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown. On the feast day of Pope John I, Robert Francis Rienzo was ordained. This also happened to be the weekend of Pentecost Sunday.

Celebrated by Bishop Alfred Schlert, the Ordination was attended by Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Cooke of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, dozens of priests, deacons, and members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and Knights of Columbus, as well as members of the Diocese and Deacon Rienzo’s family.

“I would like to welcome you all to the Cathedral on this beautiful day of Diaconate Ordination,” said Bishop Schlert. “I would also like to welcome my brother Bishop [Bishop Christopher Cooke of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia] ... and my brother priests and brother deacons and all of the faithful people of God.”

The Diocesan Choir sang for the ceremony, directed by Beverly McDevitt. During this ceremony, the first degree of Holy Orders was administered by the Bishop.

Because Rienzo’s home parish was St. Thomas More, Allentown, the Bishop congratulated the parishioners and pastor, Father John Pendzick, for the Ordination of one of their own. “We thank the parish of St. Thomas More for cultivating and nourishing a vocation, God willing, to the Priesthood,” said Bishop Schlert.

Rienzo has been studying at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, in preparation for his ordination to the Priesthood. This Diaconate Ordination marks his final year of formation before his Priestly Ordination.

Bishop Schlert reminded the congregation during the Mass that within the rite of this Ordination, Rienzo now has the faculties to baptize, officiate at a nuptial ceremonies outside of a Mass, and perform the Rite of Committal at a cemetery after a funeral Mass.

“Strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit, [Deacon Rienzo] will help the Bishop and his priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity,” the Bishop said during his homily.

The Bishop then called upon Rienzo to make the promises necessary to the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The first promise was to dedicate himself to the ministry of service, preaching, and prayer. The second was Rienzo’s profession and commitment to celibacy, which represents a total commitment to God.

“The world does not understand that choice,” said Bishop Schlert addressing Rienzo. “Some who have known you a long time will not understand the choice you have made. But I can assure you – it is a gift.”

The final promise was obedience, in which Rienzo was asked to pledge respect and obedience to Bishop Schlert and all his successors.

As the choir chanted the Litany of Supplication, Rienzo prostrated himself before the altar in a moving representation of his submission to Christ. Then Bishop Schlert performed the laying on of hands which, with the prayer of Ordination, constituted the outward sign of the Sacrament.

It was after this that the ceremony moved to the vesting of Deacon Rienzo with his stole, worn during celebration of the Sacraments, and dalmatic, which is worn during Mass. The vesting was performed by Deacon Christopher Kinsella, who had once served as a permanent deacon at St. Thomas More and now serves at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Bally.

After his vesting, Rienzo received the Gospels from Bishop Schlert, to indicate his call to the ministry of preaching and teaching Christ’s word through the Gospels.

All deacons present at the Ordination then offered the Kiss of Peace to Deacon Rienzo, which symbolizes their welcome of Rienzo to the Order of Deacons. The altar was prepared, and Communion was celebrated.

As the Ordination came to a close, Bishop Schlert thanked the family of Deacon Rienzo for the gift of their son to the Church. “Know that we will take good care of him,” the Bishop said to the family. “Many graces flow [to the family] when there is a vocation to the Diaconate, and then [to] the Priesthood.”

The newly ordained will serve during his Diaconate Year at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.

The Ordination Mass may be viewed on the Diocese of Allentown’s YouTube page. A profile of the candidate was in the May 9 issue of the AD Times.

Photos by Nick Chismar.


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