Maronite parish ordains new permanent deacon

By Dave Jolivet
Anchor Editor

FALL RIVER, Mass. — As a young lad growing up in Brockton, Brian M. Dunn, like many adolescents, was a bit fidgety in the pew during Sunday Mass. Dunn always attended Mass at St. Theresa’s Maronite Church with his family, and when pastor, Msgr. Louis Khail, noticed the antsy young boy, he brought him into the Sanctuary and told him, “This is where you’ll be sitting for Sunday Mass from now on.”

“That was a defining moment for me,” Dunn, who was ordained a deacon in and for St. Anthony’s Church in Fall River last Saturday,  told The Anchor in a recent interview. “From my seat in the Sanctuary, I saw everything that went on during the beautiful Liturgies and I felt very at home. My parents were always very involved with our parish and I became so myself. I remember my mom telling me it was time to get up, ‘Monsignor needs you.’”

Dunn, who became a subdeacon in the Maronite rite in 2010, now joins Deacons Donald Massoud and André P. Nasser, M.D., in ministering at St. Anthony’s with pastor Chorbishop Joseph F. Kaddo.

Dunn traces his desire to serve the Maronite Church to his days sitting in the Sanctuary watching Msgr. Khail. “Even when I went to college, when I came back home, I would head to St. Theresa’s to help.” Later, a new pastor, Msgr. David George became instrumental in planting the seed of looking into the diaconate. “He helped me to realize I had a calling,” said Dunn.

Dunn moved to Somerset where he married Colleen. The couple and their four children eventually became parishioners of St. Anthony’s. There the Dunns became active parishioners and the couple talked about the diaconate. “Colleen has always been very supportive of me enrolling in the diaconate program,” said Dunn. “I couldn’t have a better, more loving person to support me in this undertaking. Colleen had to hand-write a letter to Bishop Gregory Mansour, who in 2004 was named the third Bishop of the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, N.Y., by St. Pope John Paul II.

“She expressed the strong commitment of herself and the family in assisting me in my ministry as a deacon,” he said.

Dunn started his formation with Father Jack Morrison at Our Lady of Purgatory Maronite Church in New Bedford. “I started by reading books on the Maronite history and how it ties in with the Catholic Church,” explained Dunn. “Then I had to write a series of essays explaining my position on Church teachings.”

In 2010, Dunn was ordained a subdeacon, giving him the ability to be a cantor and lector. His formation for becoming a full deacon continued with the current class of candidates with the Diocese of Fall River’s Permanent Diaconate Office, under the direction of Msgr. John J. Oliveira. “I’ve been working with the nine other candidates, Msgr. Oliveira, Father Bob Oliveira, and Deacon Frank Lucca,” said Dunn. “Finally coming to my ordination as a deacon is like a weight lifted off my shoulders, and at the same time, I am looking forward to serving my fellow parishioners and the Maronite Church. Through the Sacraments and the Holy Spirit it gives me peace, love, courage and kindness that I can share with others. These are the gifts of the Catholic Church.”

As a deacon, Dunn can now incense during Liturgies; carry, process and proclaim the Word of God; and deliver homilies when called on by the pastor. Dunn will also assist Chorbishop Kaddo and his brother deacons in visiting the sick and bringing the Eucharist to those who cannot attend Mass. “People have asked me what I will say as a preacher, and I respond, ‘I have plenty to say, but will I be able to say it?’ But with the Grace of God I will be able to.”

Bishop Mansour, who ordained Dunn last Saturday, told The Anchor, “The role of deacon is so important in the Church. It’s important in the life of the parish, which is part of the life of the Church. I’m so happy to choose a man from the very parishioners who make up the Church. Brian is a very faithful man, has always been good to the Church, and it’s people like him who are part of the life and well-being of the parish. He has a servant’s heart.”

The bishop went on to say, “The role of deacon comes from the very mind of Christ. It was His desire that His Church should have bishops, priests and deacons, each helping to serve the other and the parishioners.”

“Serving as a deacon in the Maronite Church goes all the way back to St. Paul,” said Dunn. “It’s that apostolic tradition that truly attracts me. These times are difficult, but they’ve always been difficult for the Church, since the beginning. It’s the difficulties that sustain us for the future. They, through the Holy Spirit, give us wisdom to carry on the tradition of Christ.”

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