News & Events
Bishop Checchio ordains fifteen men to diaconate
May 20, 2017
METUCHEN – Fifteen men were ordained as deacons for service in the Diocese of Metuchen on Saturday, May 20. Two of the men are preparing for eventual service in the priesthood. The Ordination took place beginning at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, 32 Elm Avenue. The Most Rev. James F. Checchio, Bishop of Metuchen, was the celebrant.
The 15 newly ordained deacons originally hail from India, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.
Ordained deacons assist the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar and of charity. As ministers of the altar, deacons proclaim the gospel, prepare the altar and distribute the Lord’s body and blood to the faithful. Deacons preside over public prayer, administer baptism, assist at and bless marriages, bring viaticum to the dying and conduct funeral rites.
The following men, who will complete their final year of seminary preparation at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, with the hope of priesthood ordination in May 2018, are preparing in seminary for service in the priesthood:
Deacon Tholitho, a native of Khumiasii Village, India, is studying at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange. Before emigrating three years ago, he took time away from the seminary and applied his undergraduate and graduate degrees in sociology as an assistant professor at a college. He studied English at St. Xavier elementary and high school in Meluri, Nagaland, India, and continues to take English as a Second Language courses at the seminary. As a young boy, he served as an altar server and says he was impressed by the commitment and dedication of the priests and nuns at his parish, who were his initial inspiration to join the seminary after 10th grade. He also credits his older cousin, a diocesan priest in India, with encouraging his discernment to the priesthood. During formation, his parish assignments have included St. James in Basking Ridge, and St. Joseph in Hillsborough. Now that he is ordained as a deacon, he will serve at St. James the Less Parish in Jamesburg, while in his final year of seminary in preparation for priesthood ordination.
Deacon Robert Pinnisi, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., is also studying at Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University in South Orange. Inspired by pastors, who he says exhibited goodness and holiness, he began seminary studies during high school, continuing for several years until he discerned a different call to service as a New York City police officer. During that time, he also became a licensed funeral director. Both careers were service-oriented and confirmed for him that being of service to others was a natural fit and something he enjoyed. Years later he would pick up where he left off in 1987, in discerning his call to the priesthood and ultimately, entering the seminary. During formation, his parish assignments have included St. Ann in Raritan, and St. Magdalen de Pazzi in Flemington. Now that he is ordained as a deacon, he will serve at St. James Parish in Woodbridge, while in his final year of seminary in preparation for priesthood ordination.
The following men will continue service in the order of the diaconate and join 148 deacons in active ministry throughout the diocese, bringing the total number of active deacons at this time to 161 ministering in 72 of the diocese’s 90 parishes in the four counties – Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren.
Deacon Thomas Boccellari, will serve in Queenship of Mary Parish in Plainsboro. Born in Staten Island, N.Y., Boccellari considered becoming a deacon for nearly seven years while he served in various ministries at his parish. As he approached his 60th birthday – the maximum age to enter the diaconate formation program – he decided to pursue becoming a deacon. In his parish, he serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, lector, Bible study facilitator and is involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), catechesis and parish council. He also serves in hospital ministry at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick. He and his wife, Diana, have three children: Thomas, Paul and Gabriella.
Deacon Edgar Chaves, will serve in Our Lady of Mount Virgin Parish in Middlesex. Born and raised in Costa Rica, Chaves drifted away from the Church as a young teenager, but he believes God had a different plan for him. He met his wife, Margot, at age 17 and she brought him back to the Church, to Mass and the sacraments. They married a year later and in 1992, the couple moved with their young sons, Edgar and Diego, to the United States. Their third son, Kevin, was born shortly thereafter. In his parish, Chaves is involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). He also serves in hospital ministry at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, and prison ministry at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale. His wife and children work with Chaves at their family business, Britland Auto Body in Bridgewater and Green Brook.
Deacon James Rivera, will serve in St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish in Kendall Park. Born in New York City, Rivera will be the third person in his family to be ordained a deacon. He will follow in the footsteps of his father, Andrew Rivera, who was ordained a deacon in 1980 by Cardinal Cooke, and his brother-in-law, John Maulucci, who was ordained a deacon in 2016 by Cardinal Dolan. In his parish, Rivera, who works as a full-time psychologist, became involved with many ministries, including the Knights of Columbus, Marriage Encounter, Pre-Cana, Men’s Cornerstone, God’s Plan for Marriage and Scouting. Naturally, parishioners began questioning when he would become a deacon. He decided to enter into discernment and then began formation, which subsequently, he says, changed his life for the better – both professionally and personally. He and his wife, Helen, have six children: Elizabeth, Sarah, Joseph, Rachel, Anna and Michael.
Deacon Glenn Robitaille, will serve in St. John the Evangelist Parish in Dunellen. Born in Pottsville, Pa., Robitaille attended the local Catholic elementary and high school. He later earned an associate’s degree in computer science from Penn State University’s Schuylkill campus, a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and a master’s degree from The New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. He currently works as an IT architect for Search Technologies. In his parish, he serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, lector and catechist. He also serves in the homebound ministry, the Metuchen Cursillo Movement, and as the chair of the parish’s stewardship committee. He and his wife, Julie, have three children: Gabriel, Daniel and Michael.
Deacon Reynaldo Lopez, will serve in Immaculate Conception Parish in Somerville. Born in a small village called Vijao of San Francisco de Macoris, Dominican Republic, Lopez and his family emigrated to the United States when he was 15. During a visit to the Dominican Republic to celebrate his parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, he met his future wife, Rosa. Lopez graduated from Essex County Community College in Newark with an associate’s degree in computer science and has worked as a network administrator with the New Jersey Department of Children and Families for 27 years. In his parish, he conducts a Bible study class, serves as acolyte and gives direction to the altar servers. He also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at the Abingdon Rehabilitation Care Center in Green Brook, and in the prison ministry at Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale. He and his wife have three grown children – Natalie, Reynoldo and Ariel – and recently welcomed their first grandchild.
Deacon Robert Sause, will serve in St. Ann Parish in Raritan. Born in Mount Holly, Sause has served in several of his parish’s ministries – including, as lector, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, president of the Home School Association, and several others – through which he came to know and work closely with two of the parish’s deacons, Deacon Conrad Paulus and Deacon John Pacifico. It was now-retired Deacon Paulus who raised the idea that Sause should consider the diaconate. Despite having a full-time job and young children, he and his wife, Maria, decided to move forward with the challenging, yet fulfilling commitment. Sause, who is uniquely drawn to the interaction that deacons have with parish families, says he and his family are looking forward to his ordination. The evening of his ordination, Sause will participate in his first Mass as a deacon, and his youngest son will be at his side as an altar server. The couple has three children: Robert, Alyssa and Joseph.
Deacon Frank Sinatra, will serve in St. James Parish in Basking Ridge. Born in Perth Amboy, Sinatra grew up in Freehold and attended then-Monmouth College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology. From there, he went to study at the American University of the Caribbean, where he received his doctorate. A pediatrician since 1986 with a practice in Bernardsville, Sinatra first considered pursuing the diaconate when he was cooling off in the Sea of Galilee while on a pilgrimage with his wife, Terri, and other members of St. James Parish in Basking Ridge. In his parish, he serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and a member of the Men of Charity, a group that strives to perform the corporal works of mercy for families in need. He and his wife have one child, Jacqueline.
Deacon Joseph (Rick) Stevens, will serve in St. Ann Parish in Raritan. Born in Elizabeth, Stevens was one of two children born to Virginia and the late Joseph Stevens. As a child, trips to convents were a regular routine for the devoutly Catholic family, as Stevens’ grandmother was one of 17 children, eight of whom were Dominican Sisters. After graduating from public schools in Elizabeth, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Georgia in Athens. He was a senior vice president at Marsh and McLennan Companies and the owner of C & D Wines, selling that company last year. In his parish, he serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) coordinator. Stevens also volunteers on the parish social ministry committee, at a local soup kitchen and with the homebound ministry of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Metuchen. He and his wife, Cathy, have two children: Matthew and Katie.
Deacon Edward F. Ciszewski, will serve in Immaculate Conception Parish in Annandale. As the vice president of United States Customer Support for Ceridian, Ciszewski travels extensively for work, which he says was a bit of a concern when he first began the diaconate formation program. He noted the formation process has encouraged a sense of balance and discipline in all areas of his life. In his parish, he serves as a lector, usher and extraordinary minister of holy Communion. He is involved in several faith communities, including Immaculate Conception School in Annandale, where his son is a student; Mount Saint Mary Academy in Watchung, which his daughter attended; and St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Pittstown. His wife, Renee, also serves as director of Religious Education at St. John Neumann Parish in Califon. The couple has three children.
Deacon David Urcinas, will serve in St. Magdalen de Pazzi Parish in Flemington. Born in Waterbury, Conn., Urcinas now resides in Flemington and works in global engineering services with Merck & Co. Inc. He credits two clergymen – Rev. John O’Kane, former parochial vicar at St. Magdalen de Pazzi Parish in Flemington, now parochial vicar at St. Ambrose Parish in Old Bridge, and Deacon Stephen Kern, a deacon at the St. Magdalen de Pazzi Parish and director of the diocesan Office of the Diaconate – for lighting a spiritual flame in his soul to seek out the diaconate. At the clergymen’s suggestion and with his wife Barbara’s support, he entered the early stage of discernment and then entered formation. In his parish, he serves with youth ministry, as a Bible study facilitator and a member of the evangelization council. He also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and brings the Eucharist one Monday morning a month to patients at the Hunterdon Medical Center in Raritan Township. He and his wife have three children: Joseph, Andrew and Rachel.
Deacon Mark van Duynhoven, will serve in Immaculate Conception Parish in Annandale. In 1989, van Duynhoven embarked on his first Cornerstone ministry, a retreat that invites people to a better understanding of God’s actions in people’s lives. Cornerstone, which he credits for his decision to enter the diaconate formation program, led van Duynhoven toward a deeper appreciation of God and his parish. Van Duynhoven, a director of supply chain management for Johnson & Johnson, emphasized that the support of his wife, Michele, and his family helped him through his formation for the diaconate.
Deacon Robert W. Fisher, will serve in St. Philip and St. James Parish in Phillipsburg. Born and raised in Phillipsburg, Fisher was inspired by his mother to enter the diaconate formation program. He says his mother taught him at an early age to give, forgive and care for others. In addition, he says, his mother taught him the importance of the Church. Fisher, a bilingual licensed Speech Pathologist who has a doctorate in literacy education, currently works in private practice. In his parish, he serves as lector at the Spanish and English Masses, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, usher, religious education teacher, youth group volunteer and member of the pastor’s Advisory Council.
Deacon Daniel Gallagher, will serve in Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Hackettstown. The oldest of three children born to Patricia and Frank Gallagher in Chatham, Gallagher’s commitment to the Church dates back to when he was a ten-year-old boy, serving as an usher at his family’s parish, St. Patrick in Chatham. His commitment to the Church continued throughout high school, when he volunteered to teach two sessions of religious education each week. Throughout his adult life, while working as a field testing supervisor for Radata, Inc., Gallagher has continued to volunteer with Antioch retreats, which he began to lead while studying geography at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa. He has been a catechist and youth minister at both Assumption Parish in Morristown, and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Hackettstown, which has been his home parish since 1998. He also serves with the hospitality ministry in his parish, and has served with the diocesan Office for Persons with Disabilities since 2015.
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