Bishop Checchio ordains 15 permanent deacons, one transitional deacon – The Catholic Spirit

Bishop Checchio ordains 15 permanent deacons, one transitional deacon – The Catholic Spirit – May 20, 2024 by Deacon Patrick Cline

“What a wonderful day for an ordination,” said Bishop James F. Checchio as he began the Mass of Ordination for 16 men to the Diaconate on May 3, the Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles. He said these two saints will be “wonderful intercessors and inspiring examples for our brothers today.”

Reflecting on the lives of these two saints, Bishop Checchio told the men he was about to ordain that just as Jesus called down the Holy Spirit upon his Apostles, “the Church now calls down the Holy Spirit upon you. You are ordained today not to fulfill a role in the Church but rather to light a fire, to light a fire in our world, and in our Church.”

Bishop Checchio said St. James reminds us that faith must never be reduced to simply an abstract or verbal declaration but must always be expressed in acts. “So brothers, your ministry must be marked by good works, particularly loving the poor,” the Bishop instructed.

In the Gospel of St. John, St. Philip introduced the Apostle Nathanial to Jesus using the Lord’s own words, “Come and see.” Bishop Checchio said that St. Philip thus urges us to become closely acquainted with and fall in love with Jesus. He assured the candidates that “Jesus promises to be with you always, don’t forget that.  May your road to sainthood always be guided by him and by his Blessed Mother.”

Then Bishop Checchio questioned the candidates regarding their willingness to undertake the tasks and obligations of the diaconate. In response, the men expressed their resolve to fulfill the office of deacon in accord with the mind of Christ and of his Church.

In one of the most moving moments common to all ordination rites, to the diaconate, presbyterate and episcopacy, the 16 men prostrated themselves in the biblical gesture of humility. As they did so, they and the congregation were invited to pray the Litany of Supplication invoking “All holy men and women, Saints of God,” many by name, to pray for those men.

Bishop Checchio prayed that God would mercifully hear our prayers for his aid in sanctifying and blessing these candidates the Church has deemed worthy to be tasked with the Office of the Diaconate. Through the laying on of hands by the Bishop on each man, the gift of the Holy Spirit was conferred upon them.

After they were vested with the Stole and Dalmatic, the signs of their new office, the Book of the Gospels was presented to each Deacon by the Bishop with the admonition, “Believe what you read. Teach what you believe. Practice what you teach.”

A recurring comment from many of the people attending the Ordination Mass was how joyful and moving the Mass was, especially when all the other deacons present exchanged the Kiss of Peace with the newly ordained men. “You could truly see the look of joy on all their faces,” said Anna Bui, wife of Deacon Tuan Bui of Immaculate Conception Parish, Somerville.

In addition to the men ordained to the permanent diaconate, Rev. Mr. Jerome Roxas Ocampo was ordained a transitional deacon as he continues his journey towards priesthood. Deacon Ocampo said, “Although I knew two deacons from my hospital ministry at St. Peter, I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received from all the deacons present.”

Peter Cain, the son of newly ordained Deacon Paul Cain, paid tribute to his father when he said, “ Dad has been a blessing to our family all my life and now I know that he will be a blessing to all the people of our parish,” Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Bernardsville, where Deacon Cain will minister.

In his closing remarks as in his homily, the Bishop thanked everyone who had played a role in bringing the new deacons to that day, especially their wives and families.  He also expressed his gratitude to all who contributed to making that Mass such a wonderful celebration.

May 3rd was also the eighth anniversary of Bishop Checchio’s episcopal ordination and installation as the Shepherd of the Diocese of Metuchen. In a message to the people of the Diocese earlier that day he thanked everyone for their love, prayers, and wonderful cooperation throughout those eight years, “And what a blessing it has been for me!”

Deacon Patrick Cline served as associate director of Formation for the Ordination Class of 2024 and serves in St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish, Bridgewater.

ORDINATION TO THE ORDER OF THE DIACONATE by Bishop James F. Checchio/ 05.03.2024 @ 4:00PM / Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen – Please watch the video of the live streaming.

ORDINATION TO THE ORDER OF THE DIACONATE by Bishop James F. Checchio/ 05.03.2024 @ 4:00PM / Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi, Metuchen – Some pictures of the event.

Please click on the image to read the article from The Catholic Spirit dated May 23, 2024.


Please click here to read the weekly bulletin of the Church of the Sacred heart, South Plainfield dated 05-19-2024 – the parish of Deacon Ketan Christian. Page 7 about his ordination.

Church of the Sacred Heart, South Plainfield – Sunday Morning Mass // 11:30am // May 5, 2024 Welcome! This morning Mass is brought to you by the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Today is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Today, we celebrate newly ordained Deacon Ketan Christian as he preaches his first homily. Our celebrant for today is Father Edmund Luciano assisted by Deacon Ketan Christian. – Video of the Live streaming.

Sunday Mass in Gujarati with Father Paresh Parmar, Episcopal Vicar, Diocese of Ahmedabad and Deacon Ketan Joseph Christian // 3:00pm // May 5, 2024. Welcome! This afternoon Mass is brought to you by the Church of the Sacred Heart in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Today is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Our celebrant for today is Father Paresh Parmar, Episcopal Vicar, Diocese of Ahmedabad, assisted by Deacon Ketan Christian. – Video of the Live Streaming.

Please click on the image below to read the article of the Ordination from the Gujarati Catholic monthly magazine “DOOT” – June 2024. This magazine was started in 1911. 

Hours after his first Communion, boy begins remarkable recovery from debilitating illness –

Hours after his first Communion, boy begins remarkable recovery from debilitating illness –


Joshua, Jessica, Jonathan, Lillian and Lucas Dahlberg pray together during Eucharistic adoration at Epiphany in Coon Rapids, Minn., May 2, 2024. They pray once a week at the chapel. (OSV News photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit)

COON RAPIDS, Minn. — No mom would ever want to spend Mother’s Day like this: in a hospital room with a 7-year-old son paralyzed from the waist down and told by doctors he might never walk again.

Such was the scenario one year ago on May 14 for Jessica Dahlberg, a member of Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids. Her son, Joshua, had been hospitalized after a fall while playing soccer five days previously. An MRI at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis May 13 revealed he had transverse myelitis, which, in his case, caused paralysis from the waist down. Doctors told her there was only a 10% chance Joshua would ever walk again.

Jessica, her husband, Andy, both 35, and their other five children were trying to process this radical new reality, which would mean Joshua using a wheelchair for the rest of his life. They also were thinking about how Joshua had to miss his first Communion at Epiphany, which took place the same day as his MRI, May 13.

The devastating news plus missing a sacramental event Joshua had been eagerly anticipating for months weighed heavily on the entire family, especially Jessica.

“Stunned, devastated,” she said of her reaction to Joshua’s condition and grim prognosis. “He always was the healthiest, active boy — loves sports, loves soccer and basketball. So, hearing that my 7-year-old was never going to do any of those things he loves again was heartbreaking.”

Joshua cried, Jessica cried, and now she was going to spend Mother’s Day in a hospital at the bedside of her paralyzed second grader.

Then, at 3 p.m. that day, there came an unexpected turn that the Dahlbergs say was the start of a remarkable — maybe miraculous? — recovery, one that led to him running in three events at a middle school track meet just one year later, on May 5, in which he left all doubts about his return to health in the dust.

Father Paul Baker, at the time a parochial vicar at Epiphany, got a phone call from a parishioner the weekend of Joshua’s hospitalization suggesting he go to Children’s Hospital to give Joshua his first Communion. Father Baker obliged, and while he was there also gave Joshua the anointing of the sick, generally done for people at the end of life.

Hours later, Joshua started wiggling his toes. In 10 days, he was home and walking with some assistance.

According to Jessica, this befuddled the neurologist who worked with Joshua, and he was not able to offer a medical explanation.

“He said he’s been in the field for about 40 years,” she told The Catholic Spirit, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. “He said he’s never seen anything like this before.”

Joshua’s recovery continued after he got home, to the point where he played soccer just weeks later, scoring a goal in his first game. Then came basketball during this past winter and, after that, middle school track this spring. Before the recent May 5 meet, he even bantered with his older brother Lucas, one year ahead of him in school, that he would beat him in the 400-meter run. And beat his brother’s time he did, which reinforces how his parents view the strides that he has made.

“It had to have been some sort of a miracle,” Andy Dahlberg said. “I don’t know how you could deny it at this point.”

Said Jessica: “It is just clear in our heads now what an incredible thing that was. And to be honest, how could it not have been a Eucharistic miracle?”

Father Baker, too, sees something beyond modern medicine at work.

“I don’t have any authority to say whether something is a miracle,” he said, “but you know, how can you not see the hand of God in that?”

For the Dahlberg family, the start of the journey came when they enrolled their oldest four children, including Joshua, at Epiphany Catholic School at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year.

After previously sending them to public school, they became dissatisfied with how public schools handled the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues. Andy and Jessica felt they needed to make a change. Andy had gone to Epiphany Catholic School and felt this was the best choice for their children.

They knew it would be a financial pinch. But, their faith, and a commitment by both the school and parish to make it financially affordable for all families, propelled them to enroll Joshua and three of his siblings: Lucas, 10, Lillian, 7, and Jonathan, 6.

Their decision would be powerfully confirmed months later.

“As the end of the school year was approaching, all of a sudden, this happens,” Andy Dahlberg said of Joshua’s illness. “Then, we get all these prayers from the whole school. … We would have never had any of those prayers at a public school.”

That collective prayer might be the actual miracle of this story. By the time school resumed after Mother’s Day weekend, prayers were being offered by the entire school — students, teachers, parents, all the way up to the principal, Ann Coone, who mobilized intercession throughout the building. This was her battle cry: “Let’s assemble the army and pray.”

“The communion of saints is powerful,” said Coone, 65, who retired last August after being principal at the school for six years. “It makes me cry thinking about it. And so, it’s just, ‘OK, Lord, what do we do for your glorification and for this little boy and his family?’”

The Dahlbergs were keenly aware of the intercessions being offered for them. “Our whole school was pouring their hearts and souls into praying for him,” Jessica said. “It was amazing seeing our whole community come together.”

As the daily prayers in school continued, including the rosary during morning announcements, Coone came up with an idea. She would create a ceremony to give Joshua the opportunity to offer flowers to Mary, something he had been chosen to do for a crowning ceremony but missed because of his illness. This special ceremony for Joshua took place after he regained the ability to walk but before his return to school.

Coone recalled visiting him in the hospital during his 10-day stay and listening to him describe the disappointment of not only missing his first Communion, but also missing the chance to take part in the crowning of Mary. During that visit, she said to Joshua, “I promise you, you will walk flowers up to Our Lady.”

Her promise was fulfilled with a gathering of students assembled to watch him place a bouquet of flowers at the feet of Mary. As he processed up the aisle toward the sanctuary, “there wasn’t a dry eye in the church,” Coone recalled, noting that Joshua wore his first Communion suit. “It was so beautiful.”

Among those witnessing this event was third-grade teacher Jona Winkelman, who was teaching Lucas at the time and who teaches Joshua this year. She has a sacred theological license in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum in Rome and has taught theology at both the high school and college level. She became a third-grade teacher at Epiphany three years ago because her daughters attend the school.

She paid close attention to Joshua’s illness and recovery, leading prayers in the classroom daily and playing videos of Joshua’s progress that Lucas brought to class along with updates on his brother.

“We saw the videos and we were like, ‘Our prayers are being answered,’” Winkelman said. “It increased their prayer, and the prayer was more fervent and more eager. And we just knew that God was answering our prayers.”

This comes as no surprise to Winkelman, who believes in the power of prayer, especially the prayer of children.

“I have the conviction that God loves the prayers of children better than any other because the prayers of children are perfect and innocent, and they go straight to (God’s) heart,” she said. “And he can’t help but hear them.”

She also said that Joshua’s first Communion in the hospital connects strongly to his healing, noting that the “extraordinary grace of holy Communion is a gift not only to his soul, but to his body.”

Interestingly, Epiphany is home to a display of Eucharistic miracles designed by Blessed Carlo Acutis before his death in 2006. The exhibit features more than 150 Eucharistic miracles that have taken place around the world, with panels showing images, evidence and testimony. Epiphany makes this display available on loan to parishes that are interested.

That the display and Joshua’s recovery both are connected to Epiphany seems fitting to Father Baker, who now serves at St. Agnes in St. Paul.

“I was there for four years at that parish, and I would say it’s a parish where there’s a lot of people with a tremendous Eucharistic faith,” he said. “You could maybe even see (Joshua’s recovery) as a confirmation of that.”

Dave Hrbacek is senior content specialist for The Catholic Spirit, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Which saints were also wives and mothers?

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers. Which saints were also wives and mothers?

In every century, God has raised up valiant women who achieved holiness through the vocation to marriage.

In every century, God has raised up valiant women who achieved holiness through the vocation to marriage.

It’s easy to slip into the error that great holiness is only achievable for those in religious life. But married men and women are called to sanctity just as much as religious.

If you’re a wife and mother, it’s probably hard to stay focused on spiritual things and find time for prayer and spiritual reading. The obligations of caring for a family are constant and pressing.

But God is eminently just and does not expect those in the world to keep the same schedule as a monk or nun. Instead, He uses the duties of our state in life to perfect us. The very things that seem to “distract” a wife and mother from spiritual things are, in fact, God’s tools to bring her to holiness. God sanctifies us through our vocation, never in spite of it.

The saints are always our best role models on the path to holiness. Which ones found sanctity in the role of wife and mother? Here are a few of the countless women who did just that.

Our Lady. God Himself sanctified family life by coming to us in the context of a family. Mary, His Mother, ran a household, cared for a husband and a Son, did laundry, cooked meals, went to the market, and more. You can do all these things together with her.

St. Frances of Rome (15th c.). St. Frances was a devoted wife and mother in a marriage that lasted forty years. She and her husband Lorenzo welcomed six children into the world but mourned the childhood deaths of five of them. Frances perfectly harmonized a wife’s prayer life with her domestic duties. She said, “A married woman must leave all her devotions when the household demands it,” having still managed to cultivate a profound interior life.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (17th c.). St. Jane was an embodiment of the “valiant woman” of the Book of Proverbs. She loved her husband dearly and ran his household competently during his frequent absences at the royal court. Jane endured the deaths of three of her six children, and the death of her husband after nine years of marriage. She went on to found the Order of the Visitation with St. Francis de Sales.

St. Gianna Molla (20th c.). St. Gianna was an Italian wife, mother, and medical doctor. During her fourth pregnancy, a tumor was discovered on her uterus that forced her to choose whether to have an immediate hysterectomy or to continue with the pregnancy. The first option would have ensured her personal welfare but caused the death of her child; the second gave the child the best chance but was very risky for the mother. Gianna’s choice, resulting in life for her child and death for herself in 1962, has made her a heroine to mothers everywhere.

Share the courageous story of St. Gianna Molla with your own children with this St. Gianna Beretta Molla Board Book! This book invites children to see the beauty of Christian holiness, family life, and find in St. Gianna a new heavenly friend. Order your copy today from The Catholic Company!

Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

Belmont Abbey College hosts Bible marathon reading event – CAN

By Francesca Pollio Fenton – CNA Staff, Apr 26, 2024 / 06:00 am

Students, faculty, monks, and staff at Belmont Abbey College took part in their first “Cover to Cover” Bible Marathon Reading Event from April 8–12, 2024.. | Credit: Nicholas Willey

Eighty-five hours and 42 minutes. That was the time it took students, faculty, monks, and staff to read the Bible from beginning to end at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina during its first “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon reading event earlier this month.

More than 110 readers took turns standing at a podium in Stowe Hall, the college’s main administration building, reading aloud from sacred Scripture throughout the day and night beginning Monday, April 8, and ending in the early hours of Friday, April 12.

Tom MacAlester, PhD – Vice Provost and Dean of Student Life at Belmont Abbey College, told CNA in an interview that the idea came from an experience he had during his time in college at Florida State University.

“There was a group of a number of campus ministries at Florida State that kind of undertook an ecumenical approach to reading the Bible from cover to cover, nonstop,” he explained. “Baptist students and Catholic students — we even had some students from Hillel come and read parts of the Old Testament, and it was a really cool event.”

“It’s stuck with me all these years, and I was excited to be able to try it out here at the Abbey and ended up having a fantastic reception,” he added.

Ahead of the event, sign-up sheets were sent out to all students and staff giving them the ability to find a time that worked with their class schedules.

MacAlester shared that once they shared the vision for the event, “it was an easy sell” and “students got really excited about it.”

“There was a moment where we were like, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll just do the New Testament,’ but then students started signing up for the Old Testament,” he said. “You know reading the Book of Numbers at two in the morning — that sounds like really exciting stuff, right? But our students signed up really quick.”

He said many students have reached out to share how meaningful the event was to them and how, for many, “in a beautiful and a providential way, the Lord had them reading a very specific verse just for them and how touching and moving that was to them.”

There are now plans in the works to ensure each incoming class to Belmont Abbey has the opportunity to take part in the “Cover to Cover” Bible marathon at least once during their four years at the college. This will most likely mean a once-in-three-years cycle, MacAlester explained.

MacAlester hopes that students recognized “the power of Scripture” by taking part in this event.

“It’s a blueprint right? If we’re looking for a guide, if we’re looking for inspiration in how to live a holy life and one day hopefully get to heaven and bring our friends, we can’t be ignorant of Scripture,” he said.

Catholic Answers Pulls Plug on ‘Father Justin’ AI Priest – National Catholic Register

Catholic Answers Pulls Plug on ‘Father Justin’ AI Priest – National Catholic Register

After his fall from virtual grace, the apologetics ‘expert’ to be replaced by lay character.

Matthew McDonald  – Nation – April 24, 2024

JMeet Father Justin, Catholic Answers’ AI priest. (photo: Screenshot / Catholic Answers )Father Justin, we hardly knew ye.

Less than two days after debuting an artificial intelligence (AI) priest character to overwhelmingly negative reviews, Catholic Answers has given “Father Justin” the virtual heave-ho.

The lay-run apologetics and evangelization apostolate, based in El Cajon, California, told the Register that it will replace him on its app with a lay character named “Justin” within a week.

“We won’t say he’s been laicized, because he never was a real priest!” Catholic Answers said in a written statement to the Register late Wednesday afternoon.

“We chose the character to convey a quality of knowledge and authority, and also as a sign of the respect that all of us at Catholic Answers hold for our clergy,” the statement, from Catholic Answers’ president, Christopher Check, explained. “Many people, however, have voiced concerns about this choice. We hear these concerns; and we do not want the character to distract from the important purpose of the application, which is to provide sound answers to questions about the Catholic faith in an innovative way that makes good use of the benefits of ‘artificial intelligence.’”

Catholic Answers said it would continue to tweak the way it works with AI.

Depicted wearing a black cassock sitting among chirping birds, the bearded AI “priest” appeared oblivious to the cascade of criticism that erupted on social media after Catholic Answers debuted the character Tuesday at midnight.

Some found him creepy. Some didn’t like his voice. Some worried about replacing actual human beings. Some didn’t like his character being a priest.

“I say this with nothing but respect for you guys and your work, but … this should’ve just been a plain search engine,” said Father Mike Palmer, a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, on the social-media platform widely known as Twitter (but formally called X). “Dressing it up as a soulless AI avatar of a priest does absolutely nothing except cause confusion and invite mockery of your otherwise excellent work.”

Even so, “every knock a boost,” as the old saying about negative publicity goes.

About 1,000 people an hour were using the “Father Justin” app as of Wednesday afternoon. Traffic at the Catholic Answers website ( was up 77% in April 2024 versus April 2023, said Donna Barrack, director of marketing at Catholic Answers.

Demand was so high that it was taking minutes to receive an access code by email on Wednesday, something that normally takes a few seconds.

The Register ran into technical problems when it attempted to interact with “Father Justin” on Wednesday. Questions had to be shouted into a laptop microphone, and the app took time to translate them into printed words on the screen. “Eucharist” came out “caressed” and, later, “you, you, you.” “Communion” came across as “commute” and later “commune.”

When he understood a question, though, “Father Justin” provided a short, substantive answer.

Asked why you should go to church on Sunday, Father Justin answered with brief quotations from Scripture (Psalm 122:1; 1 Corinthians 12:27; John 6:54) and also explained: “When we gather together for Mass, we are united with Christ and each other in a profound way. We hear God’s Word in the Scriptures, and we receive Jesus himself in the Eucharist. … Going to church isn’t just an obligation, it’s a privilege and a joy.” But The Pillar reported that “Father Justin” said it was okay to baptize someone with Gatorade.

“Father Justin” was aimed at providing answers to questions faster than was possible with human apologists on staff. Several years ago, the organization took down a question-and-answer feature on its website because its staff apologists were inundated with thousands of queries.

“With our mission to explain and defend the Catholic faith, we do think artificial intelligence has a usefulness, at least as a starting point. I would caution against it being an ending point in your journey or in your search for answers,” said Chris Costello, director of information technology for Catholic Answers, in a Zoom interview Wednesday, several hours before the decision to end Father Justin was announced.

Barrack said the “Father Justin” app was an attempt at “gamifying the question-and-answer process” to appeal to young people.

Costello said the intent was never to replace human apologists.

“Obviously, there’s something different in the human delivery,” Costello said. “People … don’t just want the answer. They want to understand the answer. And they want to talk about it and have a back-and-forth, which you can actually do with the application. But I think that there’s always going to be something missing if you don’t have an actual person.”

મારું જીવન…મારાં સ્વજન…મારો સમાજ…મારું જગત…૨૦૦૪ થી આ જાળું ગૂંથી રહ્યો છું…