By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

PHILADELPHIA – The reading from Acts, chapter 6 at the May 30 Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul was most appropriate. “… So they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them.”

It was the celebration of Mass with the ordination of deacons, and at this ceremony Cardinal Justin Rigali, as a successor to the Apostles, called by name Ernest, Patrick, William, Michael, Francis, Charles, John and Huan. He prayed and laid hands on them and ordained them deacons, direct successors to Stephen and his companions.

Through this ceremony, attended by their wives, family and friends, the eight men capped years of training and joined the swelling ranks of permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Deacon Ernest W. Angiolillo is an elementary school principal and member of Presentation, B.V.M. Parish, Wynnewood. Deacon Patrick J. Diamond is a retired police lieutenant and member of St. Cecilia Parish, Philadelphia. Deacon William W. Evans is a title insurance agent and member of Corpus Christi Parish, Lansdale. Deacon Michael J. Kolakowski is a retired elementary school principal and member of St. Albert the Great Parish, Huntingdon Valley. Deacon Francis C. Lally Jr. is an insurance company project manager and member of St. Teresa of Avila Parish, Norristown. Deacon Charles G. Lewis is a health system vice president and member of St. Stanislaus Parish, Lansdale. Deacon John J. Pileggi is an accountant and member of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, Chester. Deacon Huan C. Tran is a social worker and member of St. Helena Parish, Philadelphia

Permanent deacons “are absolutely valuable,” said Father James P. Olson, director of the Office of Permanent Deacons. “They do a wide range of ministry – education, pastoral ministry, prison ministry, visiting the sick.”

The training period for the deacons is six years, but the whole process is seven, counting the year between application and beginning formation, Father Olson said.

There are currently 238 ordained permanent deacons throughout the Archdiocese, he said, and the number is growing. There are 90 men in training, including 25 new candidates this year alone, 16 in the regular program and nine in a newly instituted Spanish-language program.

“I think it’s a great day for the Church anytime somebody dedicates himself for the Church,” Father Olson said. “They are committing themselves to serve the Church for the rest of their lives as ordained ministers.”

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.