Posts Tagged ‘Deacon Tim Corcoran’


Sunday, May 20th, 2012

After a blog a day from Rome about the ad limina visit, regular readers may wonder what has happened to me. First, this week I paid for my sin of being gone for a week during the height of the confirmation, graduation and anniversary season. Additionally, it seems I broke a leg in Rome on Friday, the last day there. It was confirmed only on Monday of this week with an X-Ray which revealed a “hairline, stress fracture of the right fibbula.” Happily this type of break does not require either a cast or a boot, and one can continue to safely walk on it while it heals itself. Today (Saturday, May 19th) I had ordinations in the morning and a confirmation in the evening and my right leg was telling me at times it was far from pleased with me.

Deacon Timothy Corcoran and Deacon Victor Amorose at the beginning of Mass. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Ordinations this morning were simply wonderful. Deacons Tim Corcoran and Victor Amorose were rousingly welcomed into the priesthood by an almost full Cathedral. I have always been proud of our diocesan ceremonies since arriving here sixteen plus years ago. The music has always been extraordinarily appropriate and beautiful, made so by a succession of very talented music directors. Our diocesan Office of Worship consistently plans and executes a smooth and beautiful ceremony. Add to that the Cathedral staff who knock themselves out for such occasions, and one has the recipe for a successful liturgical experience. For most major diocesan functions such as ordinations and dedications of Churches, I am ably assisted by Father John Tapp, pastor of Holy Family parish in St. Petersburg, himself a graduate with a master’s degree in liturgy from St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. For Cathedral only functions, a faculty member from St. Petersburg Catholic, John Christian is at my side, anticipating my every move and relieving  me as does Father Tapp from worrying about what I should be doing. Behind every successful bishop on ceremonies, there is usually a very capable Master of Ceremonies and today was no exception. In fact, Father Tapp and John Christian make even those being ordained relaxed (well mostly so).

Fathers Amorose and Corcoran were welcomed into the presbyterate by about eighty of our priests (click here to see photos). Ask those present what were the most moving moments and they would likely reply that it is a toss-up between the silent “laying on of hands by the bishop and attending priests” and the singing of the Litany of the Saints while those to be ordained lie flat on the floor.

The Litany of Saints. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

For myself, there is a moment at the end of the ordination rite itself after all the priests have given the new ordained the “greeting of peace” when I and the President of the Presbyteral Council lead the new fathers to their seats among the presbyters or priests. When seated the congregation without any printed or spoken provocation bursts into long, sustained applause reflecting the joy of this Church that it indeed has now two new priests who have come like the Lord to serve and not to be served. It happens every ordination.

The new fathers at their seats among the presbyters or priests while the congregation spontaneously applauds. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

There are other moments when the assembled signal their joy and approbation as when the bishop accepts the recommendation of those who formed the candidates and the people of God and announces that indeed he will ordain the men to the sacred priesthood.

After announcing that I will ordain the Deacon Victor Amorose and Deacon Timothy Corcoran to the sacred priesthood. Photo kindness of Theresa Mertens.

Again when the new priests receive the greeting of peace at the end of the ordination Rite from the bishop. One is scripted and the other two occasions are simply spontaneous.

Greeting Father Victor Amorose at the end of the ordination Rite. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.


Greeting Father Timothy Corcoran at the end of the ordination Rite. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

No one should think that homilies for these special occasions come easily. They do not. I began to think about what I wished to say during the trip to Rome. The newly ordained pick the readings they want read on their ordination day. I was working right up to midnight last night on the final draft. Whether successful or not, I leave to your judgment but you may read my homily by clicking here or watch a video of it by clicking here. Ordinations and the Chrism Mass have always been the preaching challenge for me during my episcopal ministry. The latter is much harder because the readings are always the same, never vary and one is preaching to about the same 80 deacons and 150 priests.

Fathers Corcoran and Amorose will be great priests. The former is himself a former federal judge in the Bankruptcy Court of the Middle District of Florida. He attended Blessed Pope John XXIII National Seminary (my alma mater) in Weston, Massachusetts for the last four years and has been assigned to Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Dunedin. Father Amorose started his post-secondary education by spending two years at the University of Central Florida and then finishing his college at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami and studying theology as the Regional Seminary of St. Vincent de Paul in Boynton Beach. He has been assigned to St. John Vianney parish on St. Petersburg Beach.

Father Victor Amorose, myself, and Father Timothy Corcoran after their ordination to the priesthood. Photo kindness of Maria Mertens.

Tonight they are gathering with family and friends and tomorrow they will celebrate their second Masses (their first as principal celebrant) at their home parishes, Sacred Heart, Tampa (Father Corcoran) and Light of Christ parish, Clearwater (Father Amorose). Our beloved Church has today given birth to two new priests with more on the way. God is good.



Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Worshipping together - seminarians and family on the Feast of the Holy Family. Photo kindness of Walter C. Pruchnik, III

Last night at the Bethany Center I attended, perhaps even hosted, the annual Christmas dinner for our thirty-four seminarians and their families. If most bishops were to tell the truth, attending banquets and dinners while a part of our job description are not those things which we most like to do. We do them because it is expected and more often than not our presence lends some importance to the event which can be anything from an annual affair of a diocesan organization to a major fundraiser for something important in diocesan life. For myself, the annual Christmas gathering of the seminarians and their families has always been something I both look forward to and enjoy. Usually it occurs just prior to Christmas when the sems have just arrived back from their semester of studies but this year we had to delay it because the major seminary calendar went right up to three days prior to Christmas – thus last night. Everyone was there except for our first year theology student, Ryan Boyle, who is attending the North American College in Rome. However, Ryan’s parents were present.

Deacons Victor Amorose and Timothy Corcoran will be ordained priests in mid-May. Photo by Walter C.Pruchnik III

The dinner is preceded by Mass and occasionally there is a ministry or candidacy to be conferred but last night gave me a rare opportunity to reflect on five of the major figures of our faith who get lost in the days between Christmas and New Years: St. Stephen the first martyr for the faith, John the Apostle, the Holy Innocents, St. Thomas Becket, and because Sunday is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of the Church, last night the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was transferred to Friday this year. Each of these major figures gives to the community of Christ a gift: for Stephen it was courageous proclamation of Christ, for John the Apostle, it was loyalty to the charge given to him by Christ on the cross, for the Holy Innocents it was their unknowing sparing of the life of Jesus, for Becket it was the supremacy of conscience, and for the Holy Family it was bearing the sword of life’s unpredictables with faith and hope.

A good dinner followed the Mass and we adjourned for another year in about three hours. As the photos which accompany this entry show, Bethany is an absolutely beautiful place to gather all together and starting next Tuesday, thirty cardinals, archbishops and bishops of the east coast from Delaware to Miami will gather for their annual retreat, their second here with us. I shall be on that retreat myself.

Almost all of the seminarians were accompanied by their pastors or association pastors. Photo kindness of Walter Pruchnik III

Pray for our seminarians. If you knew them as I know them, you would be very proud of their sacrifice in today’s secular culture, their commitment to pursuing ministry in today’s Church and world, and their hopes for the future of us all. Their hope and enthusiasm is infectious and every once in a while, even a bishop needs to catch the “fever” which today’s candidates for priestly ministry have.






Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Ever wonder what our thirty+ seminarians do in the summer? Hopefully after reading this you will have some appreciation that even the beginning of a vocation to the priesthood can easily lead to 24/7/365 while still in formation. Well almost, some episcopal hyperbole to be sure but recalling that old maxim that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” we do try to keep our seminarians busy and accounted for.

The college seminarians mostly work in their home parishes during the summers, painting, mowing, sprucing up buildings and grounds. Two of our seminarians are working at Good Counsel Camp in Floral City this summer as counsellors. A stint at Good Counsel at one time was almost a prerequisite for ordination to the priesthood but now they volunteer if they wish to work there. Two of our college men are also working in Omaha, Nebraska at Creighton University for the Institute for Priestly Formation (more about this program in a few seconds).These two seminarians are at the service of those older seminarians who are in the IPF program and they drive cards, make airport pickups, serve meals, etc. And there are two seminarians working with CRS in Africa for eight weeks.

Those in theology have longer commitments. This year there are four men on what is called the Pastoral Year. We interrupt the theological education program of the seminary at the exact midpoint, between second and third year to allow those approaching ordination to have two experiences which we feel will either confirm their vocation or suggest priesthood is not for them. The first component which is currently taking place is something called “Clinical Pastoral Education” or CPE. Three of our seminarians are taking CPE at Tampa General Hospital and one is doing the same at Woodside Nursing Home in Pinellas Park. During this quite labor intensive experience, the men learn a lot about themselves and their ability to deal with the sick and dying. Under close supervision and sometimes very challenging evaluation, CPE students get an immersion course in death and dying, sickness and health, and their own capacity to listen closely, minister appropriately, and evaluate with others in the program their experiences. The three men in CPE at Tampa General spend their nights and week-ends at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ybor City (not much sleep at night on week-ends for these men) and they live and assist a wonderful pastor, Father Thomas Stokes who welcomes them annually with great Irish hospitality and priestly kindness. The fourth is living at the rector of Sacred Heart parish in Pinellas Park with Fathers Anthony Coppola and Tom Tobin. At the conclusion of CPE they will be assigned from Sept. 1, 2011 to May 2012 at four parishs in the diocese learning the art of the possible and sometimes the impossible in parish life. These four men can be found at St. Ignatius of Antioch parish in Tarpon Springs, St. Lawrence parish in Tampa, Christ the King parish in Tampa, and Nativity in Brandon.

Four other seminarians are also involved in an immersion experience, this time in the Dominican Republic learning Spanish. The program is required by our seminary and I would wish it anyway even if the seminary did not. Within fifteen years, the majority of Catholics in many areas of this diocese will be Spanish speaking and we need men able to function in Spanish. Thus, the six to eight week program in the Dominican Republic.

Two seminarians are actually enrolled in a nine week program of spiritual formation and direction at the Institute for Priestly Formation, held each year at Creighton University in Omaha. A mixture of classes on ascetical theology (how those who have gone before us have become saints), spiritual direction and a rather lengthy silent retreat, these men who will begin their theology studies this August are experiencing a much deeper engagement with the spiritual life than would be possible even in a five year program of formation such as we have in our seminaries.

Finally, nine of our theologians are assigned to parishes during the summer and while admittedly some things slow down, most find their summer experience to be enlightening at a minimum and challenging at a maximum. Of the nine, two men are deacons, having been ordained in the Spring and they are baptizing, preaching and witnessing marriages in addition to conducting inquiry classes and RCIA, etc.

So there you have it. Gainfully employed, hands not idle at all, learning the ropes and the “tricks” of the trade during their summer vacation. They all have some time to themselves to travel, relax and rest but no more than a typical working father or mother would likely have. Most are compensated for their summer in a small way but that helps pay for gas, haircuts and an occasional movie during the school year. Come August our college men will return to Saint John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, and our theology students to St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Blessed John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts and the North American College in Rome. They have a three day convocation at the Bethany Center coming up the second week in August where they will surely share stories of their summer experiences.

I conclude by using this moment to thank those pastors who welcome our seminarians for their summer assignments. Their hospitality to those studying for the priesthood is only outdone by their witness to their own happiness and fulfillment in priestly ministry. So, our seminarians are not “kids” but we still know where they are most midnights.



Saturday, May 21st, 2011

This morning (Saturday) at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa, just hours before the Tampa Bay Lightning annihilated (for the moment) the Boston Bruins in the race to Lord Stanley’s Cup and within blocks of that arena, I ordained C. Timothy Corcoran III a transitional deacon for our Church. Tim is a former federal judge/magistrate and asked if he could be ordained in his parish Church and the place to which he would sometimes retire midday for Mass during the recess in his courtroom. Three weeks ago a second seminarian (Deacon Victor Amarose) for the diocese was similarly ordained a transitional deacon at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach with six of his classmates. Tim is an older vocation after spending all of his life as a lawyer and some as a bankruptcy judge in the Middle District Federal Court of Florida. Originally choosing to join first our Lay Pastoral Ministry Program to learn more about his Catholic faith, he first thought about the permanent deacon program which is open to married men (he is single) and then discerned a call to priesthood. He has been studying at my alma mater, Blessed Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts for the past three years. Both men will be ordained to the priesthood, God willing and their own sense of call still strong, one year from today for our diocese.

God's people implore the intercessions of the saints for the man who is to be ordained

Many of our seminarians were present today and from my vantage point I can see them intensely watch and ponder the beautiful ordination rite. Tim’s parents are both deceased and there were only one cousin and spouse present but there were friends from his judicial days among the several hundred in attendance. There is something about ordinations that make them special and today’s congregation joined heartily in participating in the ceremony, from singing loudly to responding in voice and applause at all the appropriate times. There was one moment when the applause went on so long that the former judge in Tim came out and he seemed to be signaling “order in the court, order!” Below is my homily for the occasion.

Homily at the Ordination of Deacon C. Timothy Corcoran III to the Order of Deacon

Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Tampa, FL, Saturday, May 21, 2011

Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch, Bishop of St. Petersburg

Mark Twain, the great American humorist of the 19th and early 20th century once said that “clothes make the man,. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Often we hear the reverse of what Twain actually wrote, “clothes DO NOT make the man.” Society certainly does acknowledge what one wears and in some instances, the sight of certain clothes be they uniforms, robes, or vestments can bring a sense of peace, a sense of justice, a sense of service.

I think of Twain’s cryptic comment this morning as our local Church prepares to ordain and receive Tim Corcoran as a deacon.  I remember well the first time I met Tim. It was here, at Sacred Heart, some thirteen years ago. On that occasion he and I both entered this sacred space vested according to our state and vocation.  It was the first Red Mass for me in the diocese and Judge Corcoran processed with his legal colleagues of the bench into Mass. On that occasion he was vested with a robe which signifies to we Americans, “justice is present, fairness and equality before the law will be observed, rich and poor mean nothing before the bar of justice.”

Soon Tim will be vested in another sign or symbol – the dalmatic of the deacon. It too conveys a meaning rich in both history and current praxis. In assuming the office, and its vestiture, the candidate for ordination as a deacon accepts a three fold responsibility before God and God’s people: to proclaim and preach the Word, to celebrate two sacraments and assist at the others, and to practice the works of charity. Judge Corcoran when soon ordained and vested once again in this Church which he loves and where so many wonderful moments of his life have transpired will set aside the examples of Thomas More, Thomas Jefferson, or Justice Clarence Thomas and put on Stephen the first martyr for the faith, Lawrence, and appropriately enough here in this place, Deacon Francis of Assisi. The poor should immediately see in the deacon a friend, a source of consolation and assistance, a helper and guide.

Old Testament prophets were understandably not deacons of the New Covenant but they were precursors. As we have so often heard it said, and may it never become a “throw away line”, the task of the prophet is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.  The first reading this morning recalls Jeremiah’s call and commission. He was an unlikely candidate for office of prophet and while God may have waited a number of years before approaching him for the prophetic role and task, God makes it abundantly clear in the reading that God had God’s mind made up even before the prophet was born. We are pieces in the divine puzzle, put in place sometimes early in life and sometimes later.

Peter graphically sketches out in the second reading the perils of pastoring. The first Pope’s words would not make great print for vocation recruitment material as they spell out the challenges of ministry but they are a source of consolation for the minister. When you now preach justice from the sanctuary, Tim, instead of dispensing it as you did so well in a court of law, have the courage of the early Church, of Peter who has finally discovered his backbone, and be prepared for the predictable pushback if your preaching begins to cut close to the bone. In this moment in time, even the Ten Commandments can be a source of controversy but like Stephen, Lawrence and Francis, soon you will dispense on behalf of God true mercy and forgiveness. Use this time of transition to prepare yourself for the ministry to come.

Deacons Timothy Corcoran and Victor Amorose to be ordained priests in 2012


Thank you for responding affirmatively to the call of the Lord of the Harvest and today responding present. Preach well, celebrate with dignity as the presence of Christ in the sacraments deserves, and serve those whom the Lord sends to you in their moments of need. Your pastor for this past year, Father Frank Silva of the Archdiocese of Boston, wrote these words to me this week when responding to my blog on “priestly anniversaries”: “You and the Church of St. Petersburg will be blessed to have Tim as a priest when he is ordained in 2012. I believe he is ready now to embrace a life of service to God’s people given the extraordinary manner in which he involved himself in our parish community this past year.”


For my part I need hear no more. It is time to robe you in the mantle of deacon which is also the mantle of justice, confident that it is God who has called you to this moment and grateful for your response.

The Imposition of Hands - the moment of the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders

Photos courtesy of Bill Peek