Hundreds gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany on Saturday morning as six local men were ordained as Roman Catholic deacons.
Ordained as permanent deacons were Richard J. DiCaprio, 60, of Schenectady; Andrew W. Grebe, 51, of Clifton Park; Joseph Romand, 54, of Albany; and Robert Sweeney, 64, of Niskayuna. Edinburg resident James G. Davis, 59, who is on the path to joining the priesthood, was ordained as a transitional deacon, and the other transitional deacon was Rotterdam Junction resident Brian Slezak, 29.
According to a news release, the event was overseen by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who provided a colorful and moving ordination. He outlined the new duties and responsibilities of befalling each man, which include assisting with the Eucharist and officiating at weddings, baptisms and funerals. He also stressed the importance of addressing poverty, inequality and discrimination.
“I urge you who are to be ordained today to be advocates for social justice, and to mobilize the members of the parish communities where you serve to be such as well,” Hubbard said. “Social justice is an integral part of the mission of Jesus and of the ministry of the church.”
Becoming a deacon is a lifelong commitment that takes at least three years of training to achieve.
Davis is a retired special education teacher from Harlem who moved to Edinburg about three years ago. He decided to join the seminary when he came to the Capital Region, fulfilling a calling that has roots going back almost three decades.
Slezak is now attending Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, which he decided to do during his senior year at The College of Saint Rose.
DiCaprio, a lifelong resident of Schenectady, served on the city’s police force until about 10 years ago. He said in a statement that he began to feel a calling about 20 years ago, which prompted him to get more involved in his parish.
“I modeled myself after our deacon, Frank Schickle at St. John the Evangelist,” DiCaprio said. “He was very inspirational for me.”
Grebe learned more about his religion while living on Long Island, when his pastor asked him to get more involved. Romand, who is now attending St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Rochester, said in a statement that he felt a calling about 20 years ago when his sister became ill. Sweeney has been involved with his church all his life and took the leap toward the diaconate about six years ago.