Watching a friend be ordained a deacon

Diaconate ordination — Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen stands with Rev. Mr. Joshua Nevitt after his diaconate ordination in Saint Peter’s Basilica on Sept. 28. Bishop Checchio, who celebrated the ordination Mass, is a former priest of the Camden Diocese and former rector of North American College where Rev. Mr. Nevitt, a seminarian for the Camden Diocese is studying.
The author, Julianne Calzonetti, stands with Rev. Mr. Joshua Nevitt and Peter Gallagher, a seminarian of the Diocese of Camden.

VATICAN CITY — As the light of dawn began to envelop the finest gold in Saint Peter’s Basilica, so too did it begin to light the souls of those attending the Pontifical North American College’s diaconate ordination. Joshua Nevitt of the Diocese of Camden was among the 31 men to be ordained a transitional deacon.

“It was amazing,” Rev. Mr. Nevitt said. “I was so excited and so happy that it was finally happening. When you heard the entrance hymn start, it was so triumphant, and you recognize that this triumphant music was music to the Lord, recognizing what we are about to do and enter in to.

“It was so peaceful, a sense that I knew this is what I’m supposed to do,” he continued. “It’s such a powerful feeling of God’s grace coming on you, because you know that you’re receiving a sacrament, an unrepeatable sacrament. You know that God is working in a powerful way.”

At long last, they were able to be vested in the American college’s traditional set used only for this occasion. Nothing but gold, these vestments were a gift to the seminary from Pope Pius XII, and each year a new brother dons them.

“You put on the vestments, then look at yourself and see you’re not only wearing gold, but that each class put on these same exact ones, used on this day. It’s very beautiful. Then, all of a sudden, you just realize, ‘I’m a deacon now!’ That was a really powerful experience, because you’re part of what came before.”

There are no words to convey the excitement and elation on my friend’s face shortly following this, when he walked down the aisle with his chalice.

“Giving out Communion, vested for the first time, filled me with a great confidence that this is what God wants me to do with my life. There’s a joy in following God with your whole heart. He says, ‘My yoke is easy, my burden’s light,’ so he promises that joy. For me it was one of the best moments of my ordination.”

Speaking of these moments, there was one in particular where I wished time could have stopped. As Josh advanced away from the altar in the ending procession, there was a point in which he was to my right, and Peter Gallagher in the choir, to my left. A deacon, a seminarian and a journalist: the most unforeseeable trio, yet the most special, bounded on the sheer love for our Catholic faith. One day these will be but fond memories, but until then, we’ll continue to live them.

Julianne Calzonetti was born and raised in Cherry Hill, where her family were members of Saint Pius X Parish. She is currently pursuing an Arts/Media Management Master’s degree at the American University of Rome.