Fr. Charlie Strollo tells the story of Vincentian Formation flowering some 35 years later in the ordination of Brendan Gillen as a permanent deacon.
Brendan Gillen, who was in formation with the Vincentians as a student at St. Joseph’s Prep Seminary from 1979-1983 and as a college freshman at Vincentian Residence studying at Niagara University from 1983-1984 and who graduated from Niagara University in 1987, was ordained a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio on Saturday, September 16, 2017.
Bishop Daniel Thomas, the Bishop of Toledo, ordained Brendan and 19 other permanent deacons at Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in Toledo, Ohio. Bishop Thomas in his homily stressed the role of the permanent deacon based on the Scripture reading from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy. The Cathedral was filled, and Brendan’s family participated in this occasion as well as close friends of Brendan and Kim. Brendan’s family includes his wife, Kim, their oldest son, Thomas, and their two daughters Juliane and Josephine. Brendan received his assignment after the ordination —he will be working as a permanent deacon at the Cathedral parish.
On Sunday, September 17, 2017, Brendan and another newly ordained deacon in his class were the deacons at the 11:00 AM Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Maumee, Ohio—which is the Gillen family’s parish. Brendan’s whole family was there, and I was invited to be the presider at the Mass. The church was filled, and it was Brendan who preached his first homily as a permanent deacon on the Gospel message of forgiveness. Brendan spoke clearly and well. At 12:30, Brendan’s whole family was there for Brendan’s first Baptism as a permanent deacon— baptizing the child of one of his daughter’s former teacher who asked Brendan to preside at the Baptism. It was awesome for us to witness Brendan on this particular Sunday in these first official moments as a permanent deacon exercising his ministry of proclaiming God’s love.
On Monday, September 18, 2017, Brendan met with the pastor of the Cathedral parish where he has been assigned to work out the particulars of his ministry in the parish, Brendan will turn 52 in the month of November. He and his wife Kim just celebrated their 23rdwedding anniversary. In this whole process of his formation over these past five years, his wife Kim and his children—Thomas, Julianne, and Josephine—have been very supportive and very happy for Brendan.
What a wonderful weekend it was!!! Congratulations to you, Brendan, and to your wonderfully supportive wife and children. Brendan says this to us: “I am happy to spread the good news. My time with the good men of your community all contributed greatly to this particular moment.”
What a joyful start of this Thursday,October 5! Shortly after 5 A.M., I read Father Strollo’s article depicting the zeal and jubilance surrounding the ordination to permanent diaconate of Dn. Brendan Gillen and nineteen other men by Bishop Thomas of Toledo. Obviously,God made this happen.
As a former student of Saint Joe’s and novice during my early days,I feel elation that the great and humble Vincentian community has a place for Brendan,his family and others so that priestly vocations continue in new forms.
May the Gillens and Vincentian family always feel every richest blessing from our one true living and triune God.
Respectfully,Cordially and Faithfully,
Ed Ambrose,AA,St. joe’s,1957