CHICAGO — Ordination day Sept. 26 was doubly special for the Foggie family.

Not only was Michael Foggie Sr. being ordained a deacon for the Archdiocese of Chicago, his 83-year-old father, Deacon Willie Foggie Jr., who has Parkinson’s disease, made the trip from North Carolina to attend the Mass and vest his son in the stole and dalmatic.

“At first I didn’t want to be like my dad,” Foggie Sr. said after Mass. “But now that’s the only person in the world I want to be like.”

Growing up, Foggie Sr. said he thought his dad was too strict. It wasn’t until he was older that he saw how important his dad was to the family and the type of man his father was.

“I didn’t know the organization and the strictness was love. Wanting to be like him helped me in my decision and thanking God to become a deacon,” said Foggie Sr., who will serve at Holy Angels Church.

Raised as a Southern Baptist, Foggie Jr. became a Catholic and was ordained a deacon in 1986.

Seeing her brother ordained a deacon and her father vest him was very special, said Margaret Foggie-Kimber.

“It was even more than fantastic because my mom passed away three years ago and she would have loved to have been here,” Foggie-Kimber said, emotion filling her voice and tears welling in her eyes. “It was beyond phenomenal to see my dad vest my brother.”

Foggie Sr. was one of 27 men ordained on Sept. 26 during two Masses at St. Rita of Cascia Shrine Chapel. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago celebrated the first Mass, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert G. Casey, archdiocesan vicar general, celebrated the second Mass.

Two other deacons were ordained in August. The Archdiocese of Chicago has the largest Catholic diaconate in the world, with 506 active deacons involved in 215 parishes and agencies.

Deacons assist bishops and priests in ministries of the Word, liturgy and charity. This includes proclaiming the Gospel, celebrating baptisms, witnessing marriages and conducting wake and funeral services. Deacons also minister to the poor and those on the margins.

In his homily, Cupich focused on how deacons can carry out their ministry, especially through Renew My Church, a years-long strategic process underway in the Chicago Archdiocese to respond to Jesus Christ’s call “to constantly renew his church.”

“Three words focus our attention on what your ministry should be like: service, unity and stewardship. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds you that your ministry is one of service. Service is marked by waiting and watching,” the cardinal said. “The focus is always on the other, their needs, their wishes. Service is how you are being called to live out your discipleship.”

In the time of Renew My Church, the deacons’ example of living out service can inspire parishioners to be intentional in their relationship with Christ, he said. They can also unite the people.

“As Renew My Church aims at building community, you as deacons can have a special role in making sure that the unity within your parish always maintains as its point of reference the presence of God,” Cupich said.

“This is about helping parishioners understand that the church can never be reduced to a social enclave or a group of people who share things in common or who are of the same socioeconomic group or background or ethnicity,” the cardinal said.

“Rather what unites us, especially in adversity, that has blessed our church, is that God dwells within each of us, calls each of us, in all of the rich differences that we have, to be united by our shared love of God and of others.”

Through stewardship, the deacons have a special call to serve the poor and those on the margins, Cupich said.

“Your ministry, especially in this time of Renew My Church, also must be about reaching out to those who suffer want of spirit, who have lost hope or a sense of purpose about their lives,” he told them.

Following the ordination Mass, Deacon Timothy McCormick, who will serve at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Orland Park, said he was excited to start his ministry as a deacon.

McCormick attended Catholic schools throughout his life including Quigley Seminary and Niles College, but chose to go into law enforcement instead of becoming a priest.

“But I’ve always had a strong faith and always had the desire to serve our fellow man and our community here in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” he told Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper.

McCormick, who also serves with Kolbe House, the archdiocese’s jail ministry, said he is eager to bring people back to church.

“I think we have a great opportunity during our services of baptisms and weddings and funerals to maybe reach some folks that are not in that practicing Catholic category and maybe they have fallen away a little bit from their faith,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to that.”

Duriga is editor of Chicago Catholic, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.