SCRANTON – Two men ordained as transitional deacons for the Diocese of Scranton were reminded that they must serve generously – and make the example of Jesus’ life their own.

The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, celebrated the Rite of Ordination of Deacons for Thomas J. Dzwonczyk and Andrew T. McCarroll May 25, 2024, at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

Thomas J. Dzwonczyk, left, and Andrew T. McCarroll lie prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton in a gesture of solemn petition during the Rite of Ordination of Deacons on May 25, 2024. (Photos/Mike Melisky)

“I feel very blessed. There was a nervousness beforehand but as soon as we started to walk up that aisle to begin Mass, God was there, God was present and I was in the moment,” Rev. Mr. Andrew McCarroll said. “I really appreciated celebrating with everyone there in prayer.”

Several hundred family members, friends and fellow parishioners of the Ordinandi filled the Cathedral for the Ordination Mass.

“I feel incredible,” Rev. Mr. Thomas Dzwonczyk said. “It was just incredibly humbling to see so much support from friends and family and then to finally have the day arrive from so many years of study and formation, it is beyond words.”

During his homily, Bishop Bambera reminded both men that the cross becomes the measure by which Jesus showed his love for all.

“Jesus calls us to a selflessness in our love that knows no qualifications, conditions or limitations. Faced with such a command, it was no surprise that the first and daily challenge that we face as disciples is choice. Jesus chose to lay down His life for us. He did so freely because there was no greater way to show the depth of His love,” Bishop Bambera said. “For us, and for you, Tom and Andrew, despite your calling by the Lord himself, love is still always a choice that you and each of us must make time and time again. Love costs – but it is worth the investment.”

As deacons, both men can proclaim the Gospel, preach homilies, baptize, preside at weddings, funerals and other prayer services, assist the priest at the altar, and are called to be the living expression of the charity of the Church.

Reverend Mr. Michael L. Schultz from the Archdiocese of Louisville served as vesting deacon for Thomas Dzwonczyk and Reverend Mr. Gary J. Pstrak from the Diocese of Trenton served as vesting deacon for Andrew McCarroll.

“In short, God’s people will look to you to see Jesus. They will look to see Jesus in your prayerfulness, in your words, in your hard work, in the simplicity of your life, and in your love,” the bishop added. “In return for all that you give them, they will walk with you, they will pray for you, and they will support you every step of the way.”

During the Rite of Ordination, both Dzwonczyk and McCarroll were called forward by name, declaring their intention to be ordained to the Diaconate. They then laid prostrate on the floor of the Cathedral while those in attendance, through the intercession of all the saints, asked for God’s blessing. Bishop Bambera then laid his hands upon the head of both men, saying the Prayer of Ordination, after which they put on a diaconal stole and dalmatic and received a Book of the Gospels.

Both of the newly ordained deacons felt the importance of their call to service at different moments.

“Just to lie down on the floor during the Litany of the Saints, you just feel the weight of everyone’s prayers, everyone singing ‘Pray for Us,” McCarroll said. “I really felt the presence of the saints in the Cathedral, especially the saints of the parishes I have served at, my home parish of Saint Robert Bellarmine and Saint Aloysius Church, those two saints, as well as Saint Boniface and Saint Lawrence, where I’m serving now. They’ve been intercessors for me my entire journey.”

“Having my good friend, Deacon Michael Schultz (of the Archdiocese of Louisville) vest me with the stole and dalmatic, he was tearing up, and I was tearing up,” Dzwonczyk added. “By the Grace of God, I kept it together somewhat, but that was very powerful.”

As transitional deacons, both Dzwonczyk and McCarroll will spend the next year continuing with their seminary formation with the goal of – God willing – being ordained to the Sacred Priesthood next summer.

As both men left the Mass to greet family and friends, the recessional hymn, “Church of God, Elect and Glorious,” reverberated in the Cathedral.

“I know there are some big challenges ahead of me, to open the Scriptures and preach to the people, to minister and serve them, but I know God is present every step of the way,” McCarroll explained. “I cannot thank enough all of our priests, our deacons, our bishop, all of the lay ministers and especially the People of God who have been supporting us and praying for us.”

Dzwonczyk echoed those sentiments, saying, “I’m just overwhelmed by the support. I wouldn’t be here without all of the people who have been praying for me and sending me well wishes.”