Newly-ordained Priest Charles Onyeneke (r.), kneels before Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger during the combined Priesthood Ordination Rite and Diaconate Ordination Rite on Sept. 5 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo)
Newly-ordained Priest Charles Onyeneke (r.), kneels before Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger during the combined Priesthood Ordination Rite and Diaconate Ordination Rite on Sept. 5 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Albany. (Cindy Schultz photo)
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There were tears of joy at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany on Sept. 5.

The combined Priesthood Ordination Rite and Diaconate Ordination Rite was celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, with one man ordained to the priesthood and 13 men ordained to the Diaconate - eight men to the Permanent Diaconate and five men to the Transitional Diaconate.

An emotional Deacon Charles Onyeneke, who in an interview with The Evangelist last  month said it was his dream since childhood to become a priest, was officially ordained to the priesthood. One of the more touching moments of the day was when Father Onyeneke hugged his cousin, Glory Ozor, who warmly embraced him and wiped a tear from his face after he was vested with stole and chasuble.

Due to the pandemic, the Diaconate Ordination, which was scheduled for May 16, and Priesthood Ordination which was scheduled for June 20, were moved to Labor Day weekend. The audience for the ordination was limited to ticketed parishioners only with  proper social distancing guidelines. But there was still a sense of the enormity of the day and what the future will hold for these men, which could even be felt while watching via livestream. 

The 13 deacons stood around the altar space and received loud applause from the audience and numerous diocesan priests after Bishop Scharfenberger said, “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our savior Jesus Christ, we choose these men, our brothers, for the order of the diaconate.”  

The five men named to the Transitional Diaconate were: Matthew Duclos (North American College, Rome), Kyle Gorenski (St. Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore), Daniel McHale (Pope St. John XXIII Seminary, Weston, Mass.), Nathaniel Resila (St. Mary’s of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein Ill.) and Stephen Yusko (North American College, Rome).

The eight men named to the Permanent Diaconate (with their wives’ names and parishes) were: Nicholas Ascioti and his wife, Emily, are members St. Jude the Apostle Church, Wynantskill; Ramon Bonifacio, and his wife, Elaine Escobales, are members of Our Lady of the Americas Church, Albany; Paul Cerosaletti, and his wife, Amy, are members of St. Mary’s Church, Oneonta; Martin Dinan, and his wife, Katrina, are members of St. Jude the Apostle Church, Wynantskill; Ronald Dombrowski, and his wife, Patricia, are members of Sacred Heart/Immaculate Conception, Palenville and Haines Falls; Paul LeBlanc, and his wife, Debra, are members of St. Edward the Confessor Church, Clifton Park; Bernard McConaghy, and his wife, Rebecca, are members St. Mary’s Church, Clinton Heights and Aaron Tremblay, and his wife, Gail, are members of Church of the Holy Spirit, East Greenbush.

“It was beautiful to hear all the deacons and our priestly candidate, soon to be father Charles, all respond with great uniqueness of voice. I don’t think anyone sounded the same,” said Bishop Scharfenberger during his homily. “Everyone had their own voice. I don’t know if you practiced it that way, but it was wonderful. It was very easy to see that and that is something that we must never forget. That the Lord when he calls us personally, it is very personal. 

“But he doesn’t take away who we are, what our history has been, who our family is, what our ethnicity, what our race is, what our past is. Whatever it is that to this point that has defined he doesn’t take any of that away, but he transforms it. He changes it. And reminds us always that we are more than the sum total of anything we’ve ever done, anything we’ve ever thought, anything we’ve ever felt, we are always more. He is always converting us … every day is a day of conversion.”

And Bishop concluded his homily by saying, “The true job or true task of every deacon, every priest, every bishop, every Christian is to invite into the circle of God’s love, into the circle of eternal life, into the circle of hope and redemption, where we have nothing to fear but only the best.”