By Deacon Tom Cuskey | Editor

Father Lou Aiello, the beloved director of deacon formation who passed away in 2019, used to refer to this event as the “Summer Institute,” a time for the men in deacon formation to get together, along with wives, for a day of discernment, education and fellowship. It evolved into a joint session every other year to include members of the ordained community and it has grown ever since.

The tradition continued this year with a gathering Aug. 6 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Baldwinsville. The presenter was Bishop Douglas J. Lucia who spoke on the Eucharistic Revival as part of his annual meeting with the deacon community.

“Diaconate is at the heart of our apostleship,” Bishop told those in attendance. Referencing the Acts of the Apostles, he added that being an apostle enables one to call others to the same vocation. “Diaconal ministry is the work of Christ,” he added, “the Son of Man.”

Deacon Robert Fangio, the diocesan director of deacon personnel, said that “it is such a blessing to be able to spend quality time with such a large group of brother deacons. This summer seminar allows us that opportunity.” Dc. Fangio added that “we were especially blessed to have our bishop as keynote speaker in addition to him meeting with us at the end of the day for our annual meeting.”

The annual meeting — a mandatory time for the deacon community to meet with the bishop — took the form of a listening session this year, borne out of Bishop Lucia’s recent experience with synodal listening sessions. Included in the group, as always, were members of the deacon wife’s community.

“I was glad that the wives of deacon aspirants and candidates were included,” Nora O’Dea Stevens, wife of Deacon Dan Stevens, told us. “It provided us the opportunity to reunite with old friends and to meet new wives. I only wish it could have been longer.”

That sentiment was echoed by Barbara Pedrotti, wife of Dc. John Pedrotti. “The Bishop gave a very inspirational address and the breakout sessions seemed very successful. It was great to be with the deacon community for the day and celebrate Mass together.” 

Mrs. Pedrotti is also the director of the formation program for wives of men studying to become permanent deacons. This year, nine men will be welcomed into their first year of permanent-deacon formation joining eight men who are entering their third year of four. New permanent deacons are ordained every two years in the Diocese of Syracuse. 

Dc. Timothy Stedman is among the ranks of the newly ordained, being one of 10 men who received Holy Orders in May. “It was wonderful to catch up with my classmates to see how everyone is doing in their post-ordination ministries,” Stedman told us, “as well as engage with the wider deacon community.”

Dc. Gary DiLallo was ordained in the Diocese of Rochester but serves now at Most Holy Rosary in Maine, Broome County. “I felt very welcomed,” Dc. DiLallo added. “The Bishop’s keynote address at the beginning of the seminar was a very profound moment for me personally.”   

Dc. Fangio summed up the day, noting that “we really don’t have the chance to gather often as a community and to be able to gather this way sharing with each other our ministry and family experiences, hearing from keynote speakers, and forming new bonds with the men in formation. I truly believe our community looks forward to it.”

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