Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for June 5

June 5, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New deacon Nickie Colón receives the Gospel book from Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. One of the deacon’s ministries is to proclaim the Gospel. Deacon Colón and 18 others were ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on May 23 at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph. Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
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New Deacons Reflect Diversity of Brooklyn

Ordination Is Culmination of Five-Year Program for Men From Many Professions

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn’s 19 new deacons represent the ethnic diversity of this borough.

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The Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn, ordained 19 men to the Order of Deacon at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights on May 23.

The men were ordained as permanent deacons, in contrast to transitional deacons who are later ordained as priests. Whereas Roman Catholic priests must be celibate, the permanent diaconate also includes married men who can undergo the rigorous training and serve the church as leaders in proclaiming the Gospel in church and in the world.

The diocese’s vocations page details the discernment and training process for deacons. During the first centuries of Christendom, deacons had a leading role in serving the needy in their community. Their role faded over the centuries, but, in 1967, Pope Paul VI restored the permanent diaconate after a directive from the Second Vatican Council. Locally, the Diocese of Brooklyn began its first diaconal training in 1973, and the first diaconate class was ordained in 1977.

Married men who discern the calling to the diaconate must have the consent and support of their wives. These men also continue their secular professions, which range from business administration to medicine, law and teaching.

The diocese’s vocations page explains that “deacons are called to live a threefold ministry of service.”

This ministry includes:

  • “Service to the Word of God: The deacon is called to be a man of deep prayer, becoming familiar with and a living witness to the Word of God in his ministry, among his family and in the workplace. He is to love, preach and teach the Sacred Scriptures from the pulpit and in his daily life.”

  • “Service to the Eucharist: Every deacon is called to serve the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood by his proper participation at the liturgy, his love and reverence of the Blessed Sacrament and his willingness to bring the Eucharist to those who are sick and unable to join the community of faith in Sunday worship. Deacons may preside at certain liturgical services, including the baptism of infants. They may witness marriages (but only priests confer blessings). Deacons may conduct funeral wakes, lead exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and assist at the Eucharist.”

  • “Service on behalf of Justice, Charity and Peace: Deacons serve as Christ’s heralds of hope and love to the poor, disabled, needy, lonely, young, forgotten and society’s outcasts.”

“These 19 faithful men are a clear representation of the church in Brooklyn and Queens,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “I am profoundly grateful for their vocation to the permanent diaconate.  Their dedication to the many hours of education and formation and their faithfulness to this ministry is a wonderful expression of the vitality and new life present in our diocese. This diversified group of men is ready to assist in the ministry of our multicultural communities in Brooklyn and Queens. I take this time to thank their wives and children for their support, not only of their husbands and fathers, but also of the Diocese of Brooklyn.”

Representing the diversity of the diocese, this year’s diaconate class includes candidates who speak English, Spanish, Italian, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese.

“It is the most diverse class I’ve ever seen in my 12 years serving the diocese,” said Deacon Jorge Gonzalez, director of the Diaconate Office of the Diocese of Brooklyn. “It has been a very enriching and uplifting experience to get to know their backgrounds and customs. I am sure they will bring great gifts to our parishes.”

The Diaconate Ordination marked the culmination of a five-year formation program, which included Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, and Pastoral Formation.

Among the new deacons from Brooklyn, or serving here, are: Nickie Colón of St. Matthew Parish, Crown Heights; Philip A. Franco, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Williamsburg; and Wilner Pierre-Louis, St. Matthew Parish, Crown Heights. The others are serving parishes around Queens, which is also part of the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens.

Dr. Philip A. Franco, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Williamsburg, is a native of Brooklyn. He and wife Tara have been married for 11 years and they have three sons. The principal of St. Margaret’s School in Middle Village, he is active in his parish as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, and a member of the Vocations Committee and the Feast Committee.

Deacon Colón has been married to wife Annette for 19 years and they have two sons. In his parish, he is active in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) for those wishing to become Catholics. He also serves as a lector, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and in baptism preparation.

A native of Haiti, Wilner Pierre-Louis, of St. Matthew’s parish in Crown Heights, is active as a lector, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, and as a member of the Parish Pastoral Committee. He and his wife Marie have been married for 13 years and have two daughters.

Brooklyn natives serving Queens parishes are Deacons Vincent A. Lino, Andrew Mastrangelo and William J. Molloy.

* * *

66th Annual Christopher Awards Celebrate Power of Media to Inspire

This Year’s Winners  Exemplify ‘Purpose, Prayer, Perseverance and People Power’

Brooklyn and Brooklynites were featured prominently at the 66th Annual Christopher Awards celebration, held recently in Manhattan.

Created in 1949, the Christopher Awards are presented to writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Director of Communications Tony Rossi says, “The Christopher Awards are unique in that they celebrate both sacred and secular works across a variety of media. The stories we’re honoring — whether true or fictional — highlight people who rise above their own wants and needs to act selflessly, regardless of the sacrifice involved. These individuals are motivated by a higher purpose, or a higher power — and sometimes both. As a result, they’re leaving their world better than they found it.”

The Christophers were founded in 1945 by Fr. James Keller, a Maryknoll Catholic priest, who “knew the power that the media could have to influence people and, ideally, influence people for the better, to share Gospel values about faith and action — and to do it through TV, radio and print. He started the Christopher Awards in 1949,” Rossi said.

Fr. Keller “also thought that when we’re exposed to books, films and TV programs, that they shine a light on our struggles, as well as virtues like faith and courage and hope and love,” he added.

Brooklyn Heights resident Bruce Feiler was presented with a Christopher Award for his “Sacred Journeys” documentary series, which aired during the Advent and Christmas seasons last year on PBS stations. The segment on Lourdes follows members of the military injured during wartime who seek physical, emotional and spiritual healing in the renowned French Catholic shrine.

Calling the Lourdes episode “a very moving, heartfelt documentary piece,” Rossi said,  “The soldiers and the veterans featured in that story, wherever they’re coming from in a religious or spiritual background, it seemed that they experienced something transcendent there. It wasn’t necessarily the ‘throwing away the crutches’ physical cure that they achieved. They felt something inside that I think helped them go on and move forward in their lives. Moving forward with hope, instead of looking at what they had lost, they now had this new perspective on how they can move forward in a positive way.”

Rossi added, “These are just a few select veterans going through this in the show, but there are so many wounded veterans around the country who can benefit from that program, and from talking to those people. It plants a seed, and that seed reaches out.”

Brooklynite Lisa Frank produced the Christopher Award-winning feature film “The American Nurse” (Carolyn Jones Productions). This film “goes beyond hospital walls to offer a moving, in-depth portrait of five nurses whose empathy and selflessness lead them to serve those dealing with miscarriage, aging, war, poverty and prison life.”

Brooklynite G. Mac Brown is the executive producer for the edgy and endearing comic film “St. Vincent” (The Weinstein Company). The story follows the unlikely friendship that develops between a curmudgeonly senior — who smokes, drinks, curses and cavorts with a prostitute — and a pre-teen boy. The senior (played by Bill Murray) may not seem like a candidate for sainthood, but 12-year-old Oliver makes a solid case for his neighbor’s goodness.

The 2014 movie’s setting is Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. Vincent, a struggling veteran whose wife suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, develops an unlikely friendship with a young boy who’s the pawn in his parents’ divorce and who is bullied at his Catholic school.

Also winning a Christopher Award was the acclaimed movie “Selma,” (Paramount Pictures/Harpo Films), which helped bring the American Civil Rights story alive on the 50th anniversary of the famous march. The film unfolds the struggle of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who faces violence and blackmail while leading peaceful protests to secure voting rights for African-Americans.

The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.

* * *

DeSales Media Launches “Meet Me in Church” Initiative for Diocese of Brooklyn

DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn, has launched a new initiative titled Meet Me in Church ( Initially launched to promote the Office of the School of Evangelization’s “Joy of Encountering Christ” program, Meet Me in Church is an open invitation to reconnect and re-engage with the church, the community and God.

The Meet Me in Church website features information about the School of Evangelization’s one-day pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families, which takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 23, in Philadelphia, Penn. In coming months, the website will evolve to become an online hub for all diocesan and parish-level events.

“Meet Me in Church is another step forward in our efforts of evangelization,” said Monsignor Kieran Harrington, chair of DeSales Media Group. “Our hope is for everyone to use this new website to stay connected and informed as we grow in our faith.”

In addition to the online hub, Meet Me in Church incorporates print and outdoor elements. Parish materials, such as banners and posters, will be distributed to raise awareness about the website and to promote the pilgrimage. Parishes can also customize Meet Me in Church materials to incorporate local events, photos and programs; “Save the Date” postcards continue the personal invitation theme of Meet Me in Church.

Theodore Musco, executive director of School of Evangelization and director of the Office of Faith Formation, said, “With the announcement of the Evangelization and Renewal Springboard 2015-2018 titled ‘The Joy of Encountering Christ — The Family’s Hope,’ we knew that we needed a new approach to reach the nearly 80,000 people that have been baptized in our diocese but are not actively participating in our churches. We want our faithful, their families and friends to be aware and participate in all the great programs that we have, so they can find the joy of encountering Christ.”

* * *

Catholic Charities to Honor Local Business Leaders

The Bishop’s Humanitarian Award Dinner of Catholic Charities-Brooklyn and Queens is set to honor three business and nonprofit leaders this week.

Peter M. Meyer, New York City market president of TD Bank, and James F. Crystal, executive vice president of Crystal & Company, will receive the 2015 Bishop’s Humanitarian Award.

Mary C. E. Thompson, a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, will be presented with the Ubi Caritas Award.

Along with them, several honorees will receive Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Service Awards: Robert Siebel, retired chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; Judith Kleve, retired vice president of Older Adult Services, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; and Robert Marquez, retired vice president of Early Childhood Services, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.

Ken Rosato, award-winning anchor of WABC-TV’s “Eyewitness News,” will serve as master of ceremonies for the more than 500 guests in attendance.  

The dinner is held annually to benefit more than 160 programs and services of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens; it will include a silent auction, raffle and a live band.

 * * *

Temple Beth Emeth Hosts Stand-Up Comedy Night

Comedy is alive and well in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

On Saturday, June 6, Temple Beth Emeth will host “Ditmas Snark,” a laugh-filled evening of stand-up comedy. The comedy night opens with headliner Sheba Mason and features a dozen New York City-area comics from Gotham, the Broadway Comedy Club, Stand Up NY and Caroline’s.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m. A $25 contribution covers admission and complimentary wine (ID required), soda and refreshments.

Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr Progressive Shaari Zedek is at 83 Marlborough Road (corner of Church Avenue), near the Church Avenue Q train.

Tickets may be purchased online. Go to, or For more information, call 718-282-1596.


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