Photo: Marie Romagnano
Gabriel Cillo, MIC, Ordained to the Diaconate
By Melanie Williams (Sep 3, 2016)
This morning in the crypt of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., Br. Gabriel Cillo, MIC was ordained to the diaconate.
Originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 31-year-old Deacon Gabe wants to proclaim the message of trusting in God to the whole world.
He was born and baptized Catholic, and went to Catholic school in high school, but his family never regularly went to Mass until he was 17-years-old. He went to college at the University of Central Florida and the thought of priesthood crossed his mind. He didn't want it at all, and found himself joining a rock band instead.
"It nearly ruined my life," Deacon Gabe said.
When he was 21 years old in college he went on a retreat and the Lord struck his heart. At the retreat there was Eucharistic Adoration and praise and worship. One of the songs had a line that said, "I'll never know how much it cost, to see my sins upon that Cross." It convicted him that he wasn't living a Christian life, and he needed a change of heart.
Margherita Cillo, Deacon Gabe's mother said, "I knew something was happening to Gabriel. He was going to church more, but he was still into playing music and writing lyrics. Someone gave me a video of Fr. Donald Calloway's conversion story and I gave it to Gabriel because I saw Fr. Donald's story and that he had long hair too, like my son."
That video stuck with Gabe as he graduated college and joined the FOCUS Catholic Missionaries for two years and was sent to the University of Wisconsin to minister to the students there. This time as a missionary brought him out of his comfort zone, and helped him learn to reach out to people and minister to them. He began to go to daily Mass, have a daily Holy Hour, and pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every day. Within two months of being a missionary he felt the call to the priesthood again while watching the priesthood promotional film "Fishers of Men."
At the time, Deacon Gabe was still struggling to know the mercy and love of God, and someone gave him the Diary of St. Faustina. As he was reading that, peace settled into his soul. He went online to look for more materials related to the Diary, and he came across the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. When he saw their vocations promotion page, he saw Fr. Donald Calloway, who he recognized from the video he watched before. When he read on the website the charisms of the Marian Fathers, he knew that he belonged with them.
Since entering religious life, trust has been the biggest way the Lord has called him to go deeper.
"Trust when you can see what He is doing. Trust when cannot see what He is doing." Deacon Gabe said.
Shortly before he joined the Marians he began to read the letters of Mother Teresa. Her perseverance in suffering, service to the poor, and love for Christ, our Lady, and the Church has inspired Deacon Gabe throughout the years to persevere in trust as he follows the call of the Lord.
In 2014, on the Feast of Blessed Mother Teresa, Deacon Gabe made his perpetual vows to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Providentially, he was ordained to the diaconate today, the day before the canonization of Mother Teresa!
"Trust Him lovingly, trust Him blindly." That is what Mother Teresa said, and that is what Deacon Gabe wants each and every person to know and do.
Most Rev. Mario Eduardo Dorsonville-Rodríguez, auxiliary Bishop of Washington D.C., who celebrated the Mass of Ordination, spoke on Mother Teresa in his homily. Bishop Rodríguez encouraged Deacon Gabe, and the other five men who were ordained to diaconate today, to be servants of the Servant, and to shine in the life of believers and non-believers, just as Mother Teresa did.
Bishop Rodríguez said, "It's the little things that make a difference. Mother Teresa transformed a world that was stagnant in indifference. By her example the world was changed from stagnant to solidarity."
At the closing of the Mass, Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, Provincial Superior for the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina, said to Deacon Gabe and the other new deacons, "You are to be light, and light is necessary in these days of confusion in this world. It cannot be better said than what was said to you as you received the Gospel today whose herald you now are as deacons:'Believe what you read, teach what you believe, practice what you teach.'
Following the ordination Mass, Fr. Jim McCormack, the provincial prefect of formation said, "Gabe has such a loving heart, he is going to help so many people. As a deacon, he is called to a role of service in many ways. In the liturgy, for example, he serves through the chalice: raising the chalice and distributing the Precious Blood. He can also now do baptisms, marriages, assisting at the gravesite of a funeral. He can bring viaticum to the sick and dying. He is called to service in works of charity."
Deacon Gabe spent a year serving at a parish during his formation, and he would love to serve at a parish post-ordination, but he is open to whatever the Lord and his community call him to. He will finish his last year of studies for the priesthood at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C. this school year.
Let us join in prayer and thanksgiving with all of the Marian Fathers for the ordination of Deacon Gabriel today!