GNSH Associate in Diaconate Formation for Buffalo

Written on: March 31, 2021

On March 6, Bishop Michael Fisher joined the candidates in diaconate formation and their families to celebrate the rites of lector and acolyte at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Buffalo. Grey Nun Associate Mark Bialkowski, in his third year of diaconate formation, received the rite of acolyte.

Acolytes take part in the entrance and recessional processions at Mass, and may carry the cross or the book of the Gospels. The acolyte may also assist with the use of incense during the Mass.

From Mark:

While one doesn’t have to be married to become a permanent deacon, being married has meant that this was a journey for the whole family.

I don’t mind sharing that Stephanie is tremendously supportive, she participates in the offerings for the wives during the formation weekends, and she has taken on running most of the household while I study for the permanent diaconate and work at D’Youville as the Technical Services Librarian. I’m also so grateful for my mother-in-law, Barbara Kozlowski, because we couldn’t do it all without her! I am blessed to have a wife and mother-in-law who live out the spirit of St. Marguerite in what they do for others!

This has been a journey for the children too. Erin (age 8) is excited that she may, God willing, have a dad who is a deacon. She makes her first communion in May, and then wants to become an altar server so that we can serve in the sanctuary together. Sebastian (age 2), was born while I was in the early stages of formation. He already knows how to make the sign of the cross, and we can’t drive past Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna (our parish) without him asking to go inside.

Overall, though, this journey is about God calling, and me just trying to keep up!

There have been times when I’ve wanted to give up, but there have been more times of great joy, reassurance, and confirmation that Providence may be at work. Really, though, I’m just a sinner trying to do a saint’s work. To be a servant leader is something that I learned at D’Youville when the Grey Nuns took a risk offering me a scholarship to study there.

I’m glad to be on this journey while also being an Associate because St. Marguerite is an inspiration to me.

The word deacon comes from the Greek word meaning to serve, and like St. Marguerite, I feel that to serve others is how I might offer to God a sacrifice of praise while trying to bring about a more compassionate world. Please pray for me as I continue to grow through the process of formation and discernment!

Here I am receiving the paten from Bishop Michael Fisher. As an installed acolyte, my service to the Lord’s Table is deepened. I am to assist with setting the altar at Mass, am the preferred Extraordinary Minister of Communion, and can expose the Blessed Sacrament in the absence of a priest or deacon.
From Sr. Barbara Schiavoni, GNSH Associate Liaison-

Mark, we sense your deep call to service and your openness to following the Holy Spirit as you and your family make this journey. You certainly are following in St. Marguerite’s footsteps. May you continue to persevere on the path to becoming a Deacon, and in your commitment to being an Associate with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. Our prayers are with you.

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