NEW BEDFORD – Eleven men aspiring to become permanent deacons will be admitted to candidacy at a Mass on June 8, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Holy Name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in New Bedford. Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., will celebrate the Mass during which the admission ceremony will take place.

Assisting Bishop da Cunha will be Msgr. John J. Oliveira, diocesan director of the Permanent Diaconate Program and Rev. Robert Oliveira, associate director of the Permanent Diaconate Program. Deacon Franck Lucca, assistant director of deacon and candidate formation, will serve as deacon of the Mass.

The prospective candidates are the ninth class for the permanent diaconate in the Fall River Diocese and have been in formation for one and a half years.

Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Letter, Ad Pascendum, wrote, concerning candidacy, “Admission to Candidacy for Ordination as a deacon, comes about by a means of a special rite, by which one who aspires to the diaconate…publicly manifests his will to offer himself to God and the Church, so that he may exercise sacred orders. The Church in accepting his offering, chooses and calls him to prepare himself to receive a sacred order, and in this way he is rightly numbered among candidates for the diaconate.”

Admission to candidacy occurs when the prospective candidates have reached maturity of purpose and have demonstrated other necessary qualifications along with their completion of the required preparatory steps. During the ceremony, candidates publicly express their desire to be ordained as deacons and the Bishop accepts their declaration.

“I am grateful for these men who have volunteered to serve the church as deacons,” Msgr. Oliveira said. “They are good men, filled with enthusiasm and willing to bring the message of Jesus to others. I look forward to the day that they will be able to exercise their diaconal ministry in our diocese.”

Priests of the diocese are invited to join the pastors of the prospective candidates, including priests who are their spiritual directors and formation instructors, in celebrating the Mass. Deacons and wives from the diocese and the families of the candidates will be present to join in prayer at the Mass.

“The candidates have completed a period to aspirancy during which they were advised of the role of the deacon; expectations for formation; and the ministry to which they have been called, said Deacon Frank Lucca. “Following a lengthy selection process of the many who showed interest, these men underwent interviews, discernment, reflections and a spiritual retreat. A number of our deacons were involved in this process and I am grateful to them,” he continued.

During aspirancy, prospective candidates submitted required documentation and participated in psychological evaluations. They have completed one year of study, which included Introduction to Theology taught by Rev. Robert Oliveira; Prayer and Spirituality taught by Rev. Daniel Lacroix; Revelation/Christology taught by Rev. Leonard Hindsley; and Ecclesiology taught by Rev. David Pignato. They will continue with three more years of academic and pastoral formation before ordination as deacons.

“We are fortunate in this diocese to have so many talented and willing priests and lay people taking part in and dedicated to teaching courses in theology to the candidates in their first study year as well as the next three years. We are also pleased that we have both men and women instructors involved in the formation of our candidates,” said Fr. Bob Oliveira.

“Days of Reflection have also been held for the wives of our deacon candidates,” continued Fr. Bob Oliveira, “and of course the wives of these candidates are invited to participate in all of the formation classes held throughout the year. In fact, all deacons and their wives are also invited to and encouraged to continue their own formation by attending these classes.”

Those to be admitted to candidacy and their parishes are as follows: Richard Bisson, Sr., Christ the King Parish, Mashpee; Keith Caldwell, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Centerville; Gary Donahue, Holy Cross Parish, Easton; Kevin Gingras, Holy Family Parish, East Taunton; David Harum, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Attleboro; George Hults, Corpus Christi Parish, East Sandwich; Gerald McCarthy, Holy Trinity Parish, West Harwich; Antonio Pimental, St. Francis Xavier Parish, Acushnet; Tim Ramey, St. Jude the Apostle Parish, Taunton; Paul Spearin, St. Ann Parish, Raynham; and Matthew Sweeney, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Parish, Attleboro.

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