Great joy is found in the diaconate

Saturday, April 07, 2018 - Updated: 11:59 pm

By Deacon Joe Cerenzia Correspondent

In light of Bishop David Zubik’s recent call of a new class into the diocesan Deacon Formation Program, here is a look at one of the men currently serving in this ministry.

Spend much time around Deacon Anthony Giordano and one personality trait that drives his life certainly becomes evident: joyfulness.

And that virtue of joy is rooted in his ministry as a deacon, which he shares freely.

“Serving in ministry as a deacon is really the desire to do more to serve God’s people, wherever and whenever,” said Deacon Giordano, who is assigned to St. John the Baptist Parish in Monaca, and also works there as pastoral associate.

“The heart of a deacon is the strong desire to serve at the altar, to pray and serve God’s people in many ways, again being that example of Jesus’ presence on earth,” he said.

In addition to his parish work and diaconal assignment, which includes health care ministry at Heritage Valley Beaver, one of the hospitals in the Heritage Valley Health System, Deacon Giordano assists with formation of pastoral councils at various parishes and serves as a representative on the diocesan Catechetical Leadership Committee for Districts 2-5, Vicariate 3.

“The heart of diaconal ministry is the link between service at the altar and service to the people,” he said.

“My health care ministry has given me many opportunities to witness to my faith by doing more for those in need. And there are times when my ministry at the hospital and at Good Samaritan Hospice may spill over into possible grief counseling afterwards or working with the families I meet on an ongoing basis.”

Having always been active in faith formation and parish life, Deacon Giordano, who is single, relates that he began to feel a calling to the diaconate that was borne out in recommendations from family members and friends.

“While I was volunteering at my home parish of Good Samaritan in Ambridge, well before ordination, I shadowed Father Stephen Kresak, who was a transitional deacon at the time, and he encouraged me to consider the permanent diaconate,” Deacon Giordano said. Seminarians in formation for the priesthood are ordained as deacons in their final stages of preparation. They are sometimes called transitional deacons, compared to permanent deacons, who are not advancing to the priesthood.

“So, I prayed about it a lot and said the rosary for that intention,” he said. “But then I happened to see a dear friend of mine, Sister Carolyn Wiethorn, praying in church one day, and she said to me, ‘You’re not listening. He’s calling you!’ So that was the clincher for me.”

For any man considering the diaconate, Deacon Giordano recommends praying for guidance and listening to where God is calling him. He said it is good to speak with family, friends and current deacons, and to understand the ministry of a deacon, who should always see himself as one who — as Pope Francis would say — brings the poor to the church and the church to the poor.

Deacon Giordano views the On Mission for The Church Alive! initiative as an opportunity to make the Church of Pittsburgh more vibrant and welcoming. He is excited about the prospect of serving those in the parishes and communities where he is assigned as a deacon in a clergy team.

“The inner joy of serving others has strengthened and made even deeper my personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” he said. “As I pray my night prayers, I ask myself the following question: How have I lived the Gospel today?”

Questions about diaconal ministry and the diocesan Deacon Formation Program may be directed to deacons@diopitt.org or by calling 412-456-3124. For more information, including the complete interview with Deacon Giordano, go to www.diopitt.org/permanent-diaconate.

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