ALBANY -- Four men, including a Glen town resident, will receive the unique honor of being ordained as deacons of the Catholic Church in a celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany this morning.
The Ordination to the Diaconate will be celebrated by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberg, representing the first time he will ordain a cleric in the Catholic Church.
Larry Steiger, a 64-year-old Glen resident, will be ordained as a permanent deacon, along with Michael J. Freeman, 50, of Walton, Timothy James Kosto II, 41, of Nassau, and Ryan Joseph McNulty, 42, of South Glens Falls.
The celebration Mass is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the Cathedral at Madison Avenue and Eagle Street.
Steiger is the superintendent of operations of the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs at Auriesville.
He was born in Connecticut in 1960. As a young boy, his family moved to the town of Glen and onto a dairy farm that his parents and uncle bought from his grandfather.
As an adult, and after farm work, he went on to St. John the Baptist in Amsterdam as the church caretaker, and was later the caretaker for St. John's and St. Casimir's cemeteries.
Becoming caretaker for the Jesuit cemetery at Auriesville followed that experience, and then he was made operations superintendent at the shrine.
At St. John's, he said he saw the closeness of so many people with their common bond of Christ and his church.
"To see this kind of caring and concern for each other, visiting the sick, bringing communion, bringing meals, bringing companionship to the homebound was something I never experienced outside of my family," Steiger said.
He specifically named the Rev. Stanislaus Swierzowski and his wife Carol as an inspiration to him.
"If my ministry can be a shadow of Father Stan's and Carol's, I will pass from this life into the next, happy," Steiger said.
Steiger and his wife have two boys, Joel and Bradley, daughters Emily and Samantha, and they have 4 grandchildren, with another on the way.
Steiger's farm background still continues; he and his wife Carol own a small farmette overlooking the lower Schoharie Creek, and they continue to raise Scottish Highlander Cattle.
They are very self-sufficient, he said.
"You wouldn't know it sometimes, especially when they get through the fence, but working with them is where I am the most at peace," Steiger said.
As deacons, the ministry of these men will be one of service. They will assist at the Eucharist, and may officiate at weddings, baptisms and funerals. They will proclaim the Gospel and may be given permission to preach. They will bless objects and persons within liturgical celebrations.
This lifelong commitment and responsibility comes after at least three years of intensive training and their formal dedication to the church.
Under the current guidelines of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to be ordained a permanent deacon a man must be at least thirty-five years of age. He may be married or unmarried, but if single, or later widowed, he must observe the rule of celibacy.
Pope Paul VI, in outlining the deacon's role, described it as fulfilling the duties of social assistance, administration and sustaining the good works of a parish. In practice, deacons perform a variety of ministries from visiting the sick, serving as prison chaplains to administering a parish.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is one of eight such dioceses in New York State. It is comprised of 14 counties and covers an area of more than 10,400 square miles in and around the Capital Region of New York. There are more than 360,000 Catholics residing in the Diocese, who are served by around 125 parishes.