11 Acolytes instituted

A group of 11 men were instituted as Acolytes during a June 1, 2024, Mass at St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, as friends and family looked on. For the 11, this is the next major step in their journey to become Permanent Deacons.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane instituted Richard E. Dahn, Richard A. Hellenbrand, Thomas A. Januszka, Stephen L. Jendrysik, James N. Jenkins, Ramon R. Kanacheril, Mark A. Osterhaus, Orlando A. Rubiano, Jeff Tenbarge, John-William M. Trainer III, and Edward Watson, of the Diaconate Formation Program for the Diocese of Venice as Acolytes.

The Acolyte has a special role in the Church as it is now their responsibility to assist priests and Deacons in carrying out their ministry; this is most commonly done through assisting the priest during Mass. Bishop Dewane described the Acolyte as a special ministry where they give Holy Communion at the Sacred Liturgy, as well to the sick, wherever they may be found. This was a crucial step before these men are ordained as Permanent Deacons in 2025.

During the institution, the men were called forward for presentation to Bishop Dewane by Deacon Robert Gaitens, Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate.

The Bishop handed each candidate a vessel with bread to be consecrated, saying: “Take this vessel with bread for the celebration of the Eucharist. Make your life worthy of your service at the table of the Lord and of his Church.” The candidates each responded: “Amen!” (This bread was not consecrated at the time, but the bread and vessel symbolize the service that the Acolyte can now provide for the Church, in particular during the Mass.)

Bishop Dewane told the men that by becoming Acolytes they are more bound to the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church.

“As a person chosen for the ministry of acolyte, you will have a special role in the Church’s ministry,” Bishop Dewane said. “The Summit and Source of the Church’s life is the Eucharist, which builds up the Christian community and makes it grow.”

As men who have reached a milestone in their Permanent Diaconate formation, the Bishop said the responsibility to build up that community of God is growing and this institution is one more important step in their formation process, and most importantly, their spiritual growth.

“Because you are specially called to this ministry, you should strive to live more fully by the Lord’s sacrifice and to be molded more perfectly in its likeness. You should seek to understand the deep spiritual meaning of what you do, so that you may offer yourself daily to God as a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to him through Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane concluded. “In performing your ministry bear in mind that, as you share one bread with your brothers and sisters, so you form one body with them. Show a sincere love for Christ’s Mystical Body, God’s holy people.”

During the Mass, the Bishop recognized the wives and families of the diaconate candidates for their commitment and support during the formation process.

Orlando Rubiano, of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Fort Myers, said he was blessed to have his daughter Elizabeth there with her family, and said he was grateful to Bishop Dewane for instituting him and his fellow Diaconate candidates to the Ministry of Acolyte.

“I feel blessed to have reached this point in my formation journey and look forward to serving our Lord, as He desires, when I become ordained next year,” Rubiano said. “It is a great honor and privilege to be called by my Lord to love and serve Him through my fellow brothers and sisters!”

The Acolytes come from across the Diocese: Dahn of St. Agnes Parish, Naples; Hellenbrand of St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Thomas A. Januszka of St. Francis Cabrini Parish, Parrish; Jendrysik of Incarnation Parish, Sarasota; Jenkins of St. William Parish, Naples; Kanacheril of St. Vincent DePaul Parish, Fort Myers; Osterhaus of St. Agnes Parish, Naples; Rubiano of St. Vincent DePaul Parish, Fort Myers; Tenbarge of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples; Trainer of St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples; and Watson of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria.

This group will be entering their fifth and final year of studies in the Diaconate Formation Program in September, with ordination to the Permanent Diaconate anticipated sometime in 2025.

During the process to become a Permanent Deacon, the men receive training in theology, canon law and pastoral ministry. They were previously admitted as candidates when they publicly declared their intention to become Permanent Deacons and the Bishop accepted. Then later, they were then instituted as lectors by the Bishop.

In addition to friends and family, also present for the Institution of the Acolytes were many of those discerning to become Permanent Deacons as part of the class of 2028.

For more information about the Permanent Diaconate, please call Deacon Robert Gaitens at 941-484-9543.