The candidates for ordination to the permanent diaconate lay prostrate in the sanctuary of the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in June 2019 as the Litany of Saints is sung over them. (Sarah Webb)

The coronavirus not only is wreaking havoc with church life in the present, it’s impacting the future as well.

The annual ordinations to priesthood and diaconate in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to be celebrated by Archbishop Nelson Perez for the first time, have been rescheduled for later in the spring and confirmations in parishes will be rescheduled for the fall, according to information released by the archdiocese in recent days.

The ordination of transitional deacons had been scheduled for May 9 but will be combined with the ordination of permanent deacons on Saturday, June 13 at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia.


The ordination of new priests for the archdiocese will be celebrated the following week on Saturday, June 20 at the cathedral.

The conferral of the ministry of acolytes, also planned for this spring, will be celebrated with a Mass on Sept. 12 in St. Martin’s Chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood.

But the ordination dates remain tentative, depending on the direction of civil and health officials, according to Bishop Timothy C. Senior, the rector of the seminary.

“The rescheduled dates have been selected in the hope that, by the middle of June, the current COVID-19 health crisis pandemic will have subsided such that liturgical celebrations of this kind will be able to be held,” he said, adding his prayers for those suffering from the coronavirus and health providers “who are putting their lives at risk for the benefit of others.” 

The candidates for priesthood are deacons Louis J. Monica Jr., Kevin C. Okafor, Martin O. Okwudiba, August T. Taglianetti and, with the Neo-Catechumenal Way, deacons Wilmer A. Chirino-Gonzalez and Cesar J. Izaguirre.

The permanent deacon candidates include: Gerald J. Cassidy, SS. Simon and Jude Parish, West Chester; Henry (Hank) C. Fila, St. Norbert Parish, Paoli; Franz N. Fruehwald, Queen of Peace Parish, Ardsley; Matthew A. Horvath, St. Philip Neri Parish, Pennsburg; Gregg W. Hoyer, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Hilltown; James V. Nash, St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, Limerick; Mark D. Nowakowski, St. Basil the Great Parish, Kimberton; Paul F. Stoyell-Mulholland, St. Norbert Parish, Paoli; Thomas N. Verna, D.M.D., St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Media.

The transitional deacon candidates for the Philadelphia Archdiocese include Kenneth L. Cavara and Mark A. Tobin, as well as Prodip P. Mrong of the Diocese of Mymensingh, Bangladesh.

In addition to the ordinations, all celebrations of the sacrament of confirmation for school-age children that had been scheduled for the spring will be postponed until the fall.

Each of the bishops will consult with parish pastors to arrange new dates for conferring the sacrament in parishes. Meanwhile, the pastors have been asked to inform those families preparing for confirmation this spring to prepare for fall confirmation. 

As with the ordinations, the conferral of confirmation depends on whether coronavirus precautions extend into the fall, and if so, scheduling will again be reevaluated.