Local News Archive
Print Issue: July 6, 2000
Transitional Deacons Take Step Toward Priesthood
By Susan S. Sullivan, Special To The Bulletin
LAWRENCEVILLELike many people, Joe Shaute and Dan Rogaczewski spent the Saturday evening of Memorial Day weekend with their friends and family. But this gathering was a witness and a celebration as they were ordained transitional deacons by Archbishop John F. Donoghue.
More than 150 people were on hand May 27 for the liturgy at St. Lawrence Church. The entrance procession, which included the archbishop, the two candidates, five deacons, eight seminarians and 11 concelebrants, assembled in the churchs spacious narthex. The St. Lawrence Adult Choir led the assembly in song.
The first reading from Jeremiah was proclaimed by Kim Scheil of St. Ann Church, Marietta. Choir director Mary Beth Frazier led the congregation in the response, Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life. The second reading from Acts, chapter 6, was proclaimed by Shautes father, Joe. The Gospel was proclaimed by Rev. Mr. Randy Mattox.
The election and consent portion of the rite, which was met with sustained applause, was followed by the archbishops homily.
Since the Second Vatican Council, we have often heard talk about priests being men just like other men, the archbishop said. Some have tried to equate the priesthood of Holy Orders with the priestly nature conferred on all Christians by the Sacrament of Baptism. And indeed, the Church has not been short on any number of ordained men trying to become just one among the many, a single drop blending into the vast pool of souls which make up the Church we love, the Church which Christ embraces daily by the love of His presence, in the Mass, and in Holy Communion.
The archbishop said that priests are signed with the oil of chrism. Oil, he said, cannot co-mingle and become like water.
So it is with our priests, he said. Perhaps we are wrong to put them on a pedestal, but we are more wrong when we say they are like everyone else. They are not.
The responsibilities and duties of priests set them apart, he continued, whether it is in the forgiveness of sins or of producing on the altars of our Churches the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, and of welcoming all believers into the fellowship which only our understanding of that Sacred Presence can offer.
It is good that we tell the truth, the archbishop said. So that they may understand what a special role they have and will be assuming in the Churchs midst and so that the Faithful may understand just how special they are.
The archbishop pointed to Matthews Gospel to illuminate the foundation of the priestly role. Jesus calls not for leaders who lord their authority over the faithful, but for leaders who serve. Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life. . .
Just as our deacons and priests are set above all, at the head of the assembly, the archbishop said. These words are especially for them, to help them remain humble ... and so to be good priests and deacons.
My dear brothers, there is no greater thing for you yourselves to pray for, than that your own egos, your own personalities, will remain buried in the person and character of Christ, he said.
The archbishop outlined the three-fold duties of deacons as ordained ministers of the word, of the altar and of charity. He concluded by pointing to the priestly ordination, which will complete the ordination process for Rev. Mr. Shaute and Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski.
After the commitment to celibacy, the examination and the promise of obedience, the two candidates prostrated themselves at the foot of the altar steps while those assembled sang the Litany of the Saints.
After the laying on of hands and the prayer of consecration, the newly ordained deacons were vested in stole and dalmatic and presented with the Book of the Gospels. They were then received with heartfelt hugs by the archbishop and by their fellow deacons.
The offertory gifts were brought forward by Rev. Mr. Shautes parents and sister and by Rev. Mr. Rogaczewskis father and sister. The new deacons assisted at the altar during the Liturgy of the Eucharist and distributed Communion.
Afterward, congratulations and conversation began in the narthex and continued at a plentiful reception in the parish gymnasium. It was a celebration of roads long traveled.
Ive felt called since I cant remember, said Rev. Mr. Shaute, 36, as he vested before Mass. I was one of those people who was waiting for the lightning bolt. I had a very deep sense that God was calling me, but I wanted greater clarity. It was a matter of God working over time through my experiences and people who were placed in my life or part of my life.
He has a degree in journalism and worked for The Gwinnett Daily News as a sportswriter at one point. He was also active in youth ministry at St. Anns and was one of the original Life Teen core members when the program started in the fall of 1992.
As God deepened my calling, he said, the voice got louder. Eventually you cant resist anymore. He makes an offer you cant refuse, but it takes awhile to come to that realization, especially when youre stubborn.
Rev. Mr. Shaute, said his two great interests are youth ministry and liturgy.
What more incredible thing can we do than worship, he said. If Mass is the source and summit we should do our part to know why it is that. Its not just an experience, which sometimes gets confused with feelings. We need to have a deep understanding of how we worship and how worship connects to our daily lives.
The main thing I aspire to do is to be someone who emphasizes relationships in whatever ministry I do, he continued. Because thats where we experience Christ, whether the experience of the altar or the experience of getting to know someone and learning how Christ is working in that persons life.
Anne Shaute said her sons choice of the priesthood was not a surprise. When he was about five he said, Im going to be a priest when I grow up. I said, Wait just a little while. He was an altar boy for years and received a Serra award when he was eight or nine. He went to Catholic school when we lived in Miami.
Nobody was surprised, his mother continued. Most said, Why did it take you so long? Im glad he waited and experienced life.
The newly ordained deacons younger sister, Michele, expressed the same lack of surprise. Her care packages have been a big hit with his classmates at the seminary.
His father, also Joe, said he was an altar boy as well. The second-generation altar server was religious from the age of six or seven, according to his father.
He went out of his way to be involved in church activities. He avoided playmates that werent nice. He continued to get more and more involved in church activities.
He was probably the last to know, the elder Shaute mused. Everyone asks what took so long.
Family friends came from Florida, from St. Pius X Church in Conyers, where the deacon did pastoral work, and from St. Ann.
Mike Maetz said between 25 and 30 St. Ann parishioners came by bus. A Life Teen core member, Maetz described Rev. Mr. Shaute as very humble, very prayerful, very grounded. He has a very pastoral way about him. He loves to serve God. Hes going to be a great priest.
Thaddeus Ruszkowski, a former core member with Rev. Mr. Shaute, who is leaving to bring Life Teen to Liverpool in the United Kingdom, said he knew of his friends vocation to the priesthood from the first time they met.
The day was also not a surprise for Phil and Sue Saucier, also former original core members with Rev. Mr. Shaute.
At Mass this evening, I just felt affirmed that this is what God wants for Joe, Phil Saucier said. In the business world, it took time for him to figure it out. Thats not a bad thing.
Cheryl Dieckmann, who served as an original core member and is still active, has known Rev. Mr. Shaute for 15 years.
I think we all figured it out before he did, she said. One of his last girl friends was here tonight. Theyre friends. He stays connected. When you get on his birthday card list, you never get off and he writes you a book inside.
Maura ONeil of Lowell, Mass., Rev. Mr. Shautes cousin, was present for the ordination as well. I always thought he was very special, she said. When he came to Massachusetts to visit, he wanted to go to a shrine, which is unusual for a young man.
I met Joe when he entered the seminary in New Orleans, said Lynn ONeill. God is awesome in planning Joes life journey.
The same can be said of Rev. Mr. Rogaczewskis path.
While I was in college, I had a very powerful retreat experience, the 41-year-old deacon said. It awakened an interest in the priesthood that had been dormant for quite a while. I knew I would enter the seminary one day, but thought other experiences needed to come first. Work experience is important when you are ministering to working families. Emotional and spiritual maturity was needed before I could undertake a vocation.
He volunteered with the Peace Corps in Upper Volta in Central West Africa, now known as Burkina Faso, doing rural development work. He has a graduate degree from the University of Delaware in planning and public policy. He coached and officiated at water polo games for years, helping set up the competition area for the sport during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
Im very proud of the kids I coached, as players and as people, he said. Its the one thing I really miss.
Working with youth will still be a priority for Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski.
Youth ministry is the most crying need in parishes. We do a terrible job with our youth. People used to just accept what they were taught. Now people ask questions and sometimes they dont get good answers. No one is reaching out to them. We lose so many kids after confirmation and dont get them back till the baptism of the first baby.
He added that reaching out to youth has very tangible benefits, stating that more vocations came out of World Youth Day in Denver than any single thing thats happened in the church.
We need to keep reaching out to the kids in the parish, he said. Dont dumb down. Tell them the truth. They can handle it. They do need to come to church every Sunday thats the sort of truth of which you need to remind them. I know from coaching, kids rise to the level of your expectations.
It takes time and discernment and patience to find your path, as Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski learned.
Sometimes the individual is the last to know, Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski said. Sometimes relatives or friends see signs of a vocation first.
There were lots of friends and family members to corroborate that statement. Among those attending were his father, a brother and sister, two aunts, two uncles, two nieces and a cousin. His mother, Bernadine Rogaczewski, is deceased.
Seminary classmates were also present. Father Tom Fesen, of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., commented that its always a great day when men come forward to make a stand for Jesus Christ and a commitment to preach the Gospel.
Fellow classmate Father Jack Durkin, who is assigned to St. John Neumann Church, Lilburn, agreed, adding more specifics.
Dans the kind of guy you can ask a question thats very esoteric and Dan will know the answer. He is very scholarly, very serious, yet has a great sense of humor. He was president of the class at Mount St. Marys in Emmitsburg, Md. He has a strong devotion to Mary, like all the men from our seminary.
Julie Jacobsmeyer, his sister, and mother of his nieces, Lauren, 5, and Amy, 3, said she was not surprised by the calling her brother received.
I can remember Mom telling me that Danny told her in sixth grade that he was going to be a priest, Jacobsmeyer said. I was not surprised when he told me he was entering the seminary. I knew it was a good decision. I felt it was his intention all along.
All three siblings of the late Mrs. Rogaczewski were present for the ordination. Henrietta Auer, Mrs. Rogaczewskis only sister and the new deacons godmother, said she was not at all surprised at his vocation. She said she was the first to recognize it.
I saw qualities in him that he would pursue this, Auer said. His mother called me one day and said, You were right, hes going to the seminary. He never dated or ran around. He wrote me while he was in the Peace Corps. Anyone who can stick it out in the Peace Corps is a special person.
Hes had a long go of it, said Rev. Mr. Rogaczewskis father, also Dan. Its not a surprise. A lot of the activities he got involved with were pastoral. The Peace Corps time now that was a surprise!
He always intended to be someone who would make a difference, Dan Rogaczewski continued. It was just a matter of figuring it out. I guess it just takes some people longer than others to find a direction, a niche.
On Memorial Day weekend, Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski and Rev. Mr. Shaute embarked on a new way of nurturing others and nourishing the life of the church. Instead of a picnic, they are on a journey that will enable them to preside at the eucharistic banquet.
NEW DEACONS --
Archbishop John F. Donoghue is flanked by Rev. Mr. Rogaczewski, left, a native
of St. Louis, and Rev. Mr. Shaute, a native of Tacoma, Wash., at the conclusion
of the ordination Mass