Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien will ordain 14 men to the permanent diaconate May 14 during a 10 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland.
Hailing from as far west as Oakland in Garrett County, the soon-to-be deacons represent a variety of professional and personal backgrounds. All married, they include the president-CEO of a hospital, a scientist, a social worker and a biomedical research manager.
“They bring a lot of different lenses and places where ministry can be realized and the Gospel can be proclaimed,” said Father Patrick Carrion, director of deacon formation and pastor of the Catholic Community of South Baltimore.
The deacon candidates completed a one-year aspirancy program, followed by three years of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation. The academic theological program was taught primarily by the faculty of St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Roland Park, with deacons taking courses in a wide range of subjects including Scripture, church history, Catholic social teaching, canon law, morality, Christian evangelization and homiletics.
As part of their formation, the candidates served one year at a parish and one year in an institutional setting such as a hospital or prison. They participated in a five-day-retreat in West Virginia prior to their ordination.
Father Carrion said the men discerned “long and hard” about the diaconate.
“They gave a lot of themselves to the formation piece – knowing that it’s just the beginning to prepare them for committed, intentional service to the church,” Father Carrion said. “When people see that, they know the church is thriving. It’s exciting.”
A deacon receives the sacrament of holy orders and becomes a member of the clergy. Among his regular duties, a deacon proclaims the Gospel at Mass and delivers homilies. He administers the sacrament of baptism and witnesses marriages. A deacon may also preside at rites of Christian burial, at eucharistic exposition and benediction, the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical rites.
Deacons also are active in Christian outreach – ministering in a variety of roles within parishes, charitable agencies, hospitals, prisons and elsewhere.
Archbishop O’Brien will announce the assignments of the new deacons near the time of their ordination.
To be eligible for the diaconate, a candidate must be a baptized man who is confirmed and who has been a Roman Catholic for at least six years. Candidates must be at least 31 at the time of admission to the program and must typically be less than 60 at the time of ordination.
If married, a candidate must have been married for at least six years and have the support of his wife. He must also become celibate if his wife precedes him in death. If single, a candidate must agree to a life of celibacy.
Candidates must be U.S. citizens or legal, permanent residents at the time of admission, with a working knowledge of English.
A “permanent” deacon differs from a “transitional” deacon in that transitional deacons are eventually ordained to the priesthood.
“Everyone is welcome to attend the ordination,” Father Carrion said. “It’s a very moving ceremony.”
Call 410-547-5558 for information about becoming a deacon.
Meet the deacons
R. Donald Awalt, retired founder and former CEO of RDA Corporation, Hunt Valley
Home parish: St. Joseph, Cockeysville
Diaconal internships: Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, Hunt Valley; Stella Maris, Timonium
Spouse: Kathy, 30 years; one child
The deacon formation program has been a tremendous gift and blessing to my entire family. While academic formation provides an important foundation for our future as a deacon, it was through my two internships at Stella Maris and St. Francis Xavier that I truly discovered that this is what God wanted me to do with the rest of my life. I also reaffirmed that anything is possible for God! Our formation, and the ministry of a deacon offer many different ministries and ways to serve, and I found that I appreciate and enjoy them all.
Donald P. Battista, president and CEO of Garrett County Memorial Hospital, Oakland
Home parish: St. Peter the Apostle, Oakland
Diaconal internships: St. Peter the Apostle; St. John University Parish Campus Ministry and West Virginia Health System, Morgantown
Spouse: Patricia, 37 years; two children, two grandchildren
While the time and travel invested during the diaconate formation and training process has been formidable for me; the rewards have been exponentially greater. Along my journey I have met other spiritual travelers who have positively helped influence and form my faith and spirituality. I have encountered extremely dedicated clergy and diocesan staff and volunteers who daily live the way of Christ placing the needs of others ahead of their own. I have witnessed the faith of many young people who hold their religion and their God close to their hearts giving me great optimism about the future of both the church and society. I have locked step with many at the end of life who were preparing for the “trip to the other side” and they shared their fears, faith and ultimate trust in the promise of salvation.
Harold C Bradley, Multi-craft maintenance mechanic-pipefitter, Newpage Corporation
Home parish: St. Peter, Westernport
Diaconal internships: Parishes of Mountain Maryland; Western Maryland Health System
Spouse: Elaine, 36 years; three children; two grandchildren
My formation program has been a challenging, tremendous learning and growth experience. Answering to the call of the Holy Spirit, this journey has taken me from my comfort zone and opened my eyes and heart in changing me that only God could form.
Paul G. Cooke, retired director of finance, State of Maryland
Home parish: St. Joseph, Sykesville
Diaconal internships: St. John, Westminster; Greater Baltimore Medical Center
Spouse: Susan, 36 years; five children, eight grandchildren
Father Paul Reich invited me to consider the diaconate and four years of formation have strengthened my vocation. My internships at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and St. John Church in Westminster have provided me with good pastoral care skills. I have been blessed with good health and a wonderfully supportive family. I am ready to serve the Lord. To whom much has been given, much will be required.
Michael Joseph Currens, scientist-administrator, National Institutes of Health
Home parish: St. John the Evangelist, Frederick
Diaconal internships: St. Katharine Drexel, Frederick; St. Catherine Nursing Center, Emmitsburg
Spouse: Leigh, 24 years; two children
(It has been an) extremely satisfying and gratifying experience. The formation team and my fellow deacon candidates have provided a wonderful experience in which I have grown in love for the Lord and for his church. The essential characteristic of the deacon is as a servant. I am looking forward to an opportunity to serve the people of Frederick County through this ministry and in fellowship with my fellow deacons and priests.
Michael A. Dvorak, clinical social worker and an adjunct faculty member at UMBC School of Social Work
Home parish: St. John, Westminster
Diaconal internships: Sacred Heart, Glyndon; The Jenkins Center
Spouse: Kimberly, 14 years; two children
This has been an incredible journey, one with many ups and downs, a continuation of a road I started many years ago. I still don’t know that I have ever really understood it. I have not always accepted it. I also tried, very hard, for a long time to fight against it, but for whatever reason, despite how unworthy I feel, I have been called to this point, and I truly believe God wants me here. God’s call is powerful and despite ourselves, our own wants and needs, he directs us to where we need to be. The things I have learned these last few years, all the people, the wonderful experiences I have had, have all pointed me to the reality that it is not a matter of figuring out God’s will in your life as much as it is a matter of letting go, listening and having faith that God will lead you where you need to be.
David J. Ebner, chief logistics officer for D.M. Bowman, Inc.
Home parish: St. Ignatius, Ijamsville
Diaconal internships: St. Augustine, Williamsport/St. James, Boonsboro and Western Maryland Hospital Center, Hagerstown
Spouse: Georgene, 30 years; two children
As we near the end of our formal education, I understand the role of deacon as servant. I understand the need to hold myself out to others as an example. I understand my responsibility through my actions and non-action, homilies, and interaction with staff, parishioners, and all of God’s children to listen, be there, and attempt to assist where I can even if there is no earthly solution at hand. I realize that every day is a new day to learn, and continually evolve into being the best permanent deacon that I can be.
Brent Laughton Heathcott, vice president, constituent organization development, American Academy of Physician Assistants.
Home parish: Our Lady of the Fields, Millersville
Diaconal internships: St. Joseph, Odenton; Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore
Spouse: Jill, 10 years; five children
I have been honored and am humbled at the opportunities and experiences that have been afforded to me during the formation process. I have grown in ways that I never dreamed possible and have come to truly understand what it means to be charitable and to serve those among us who desperately need care and compassion. I have also had my eyes opened to the wonderful tradition and history of the Catholic faith and have seen how that faith has been and continues to be lived out every day by clergy and laity alike. The church is full of gifts and talents that are being used every day to build up the kingdom of God among us.
Jerry Jennings, biomedical research manager
Home parish: St Ignatius of Loyola, Ijamsville
Diaconal internships: St. Peter, Libertytown; NIH Clinical Research Center, Spiritual Ministry Department, Bethesda
Spouse: Jeannine, 32 years; two children
Throughout my deacon formation, I have felt I always received more than I gave. The power of the Holy Spirit has guided me on this journey to ordination, and has sent several persons into my life who gave much to me. Father Patrick Carrion, Father (Michael) Triplett, Deacon (Anthony) Norcio, and Deacon (James) Westwater, our formation team, were instrumental in forming me into the deacon I can be. I am honored to call my classmates who were with me on this journey my friends. Chaplain John Pollack and Father Jason Worley, my mentors at my institution and parish internships, respectively, were so important to my formation. I am forever indebted to the parishioners of St. Ignatius and St. Peter for their support and prayers throughout the formation process. Last and for sure not least, I would not be at the altar for ordination if not for the love, support, and understanding of my family.
Scott Robert John Lancaster, controller, Archdiocese of Washington
Home parish: St. Louis, Clarksville
Diaconal internships: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Ellicott City,
Department of Corrections, Jessup
Spouse: Denise, 25 years; three children
The four years of formation have greatly expanded my faith and have confirmed for me my calling to the diaconate. Through the classes at St. Mary’s Seminary, my internships at both the prison system in Jessup and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Ellicott City and spiritual direction, I have learned what the ministry of service, that all deacons are called to, is about and it has touched me deeply. I look forward to continuing my formation in Christ serving as a deacon in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Timothy Joseph Moore, independent financial planner
Home parish: St. Katharine Drexel, Frederick
Diaconal internships: St. Timothy, Walkersville; Frederick Memorial Hospital
Spouse: Mary Kathleen, 35 years; six children, six grandchildren
This has been a very interesting journey in answering the call to the diaconate. The many people who have helped, encouraged, loved and cared for me through this process have blessed me and enabled me to present myself to the Lord for his work as one of his servants. Kathy and my family especially deserve a great deal of credit for allowing me to pursue this call. As in our marriage and family life, the Lord has truly blessed us all and I see this opportunity to serve as a way to give back a little of what has been afforded to me. Their love and support are critical for me to succeed. (My) spiritual, personal, intellectual and pastoral formation has made me a better person, and I look forward to answering this call with all of my abilities.
Stephen Renn Roscher Sr., senior assistant state’s attorney, Baltimore County
Home parish: Holy Family, Randallstown
Diaconal internships: St. Joseph, Sykesville; St. Charles Borromeo, Pikesville; Johns Hopkins Hospital (Pastoral Care Department)
Spouse: Nancy, 34 years; three children, two grandchildren
The formation program for the diaconate truly fulfills its purpose to transform us so that we are ready to serve God by serving his people. Perhaps many of us, as deacon candidates, came in to the program expecting the primary emphasis to be one of intellectual/academic growth. But it quickly became apparent that our transformation was going to equally include pastoral, personal, and spiritual growth. The yearly retreats allowed us to bond more deeply as a group of men on a common journey of faith leading us to a common goal of service. Our internships in hospitals, prisons, campus ministry, nursing facilities and parishes allowed us to discover hidden abilities while bolstering our confidence to tackle the tasks that would be ours as deacons. Through the experience of our internships the face of Jesus became visible to each of us in more ways than we could have imagined when we began our formation process.
George A. Russell, tutor, St. John’s College, Annapolis
Home parish: St. Mary, Annapolis
Diaconal internship: St. Andrew by the Bay, Annapolis; Esperanza Center, Baltimore
Spouse: Mary Ellen, 29 years; four children
I am certainly humbled by the proposition of being a deacon in the church. I look forward to serving the church in that role – especially in its sacramental life and being a witness to the people of God and being a witness to what we believe in the world. In my life, God seemed to me calling me to this step and I find myself answering that call. I’m trying to live out my faith in the best way I can.
William Senft, former attorney and CPA, current English teacher at Towson High School
Home parish: Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Homeland
Diaconal internship: Shrine of the Sacred Heart, Mount Washington; GBMC
Spouse: Louise, 27 years; five children
I am grateful to Father Patrick Carrion and the deacon formation team, to Father Tim Brown, Father Patrick Besel, Monsignor Richard Cramblitt, Monsignor Robert Armstrong, Deacon Ray Moreau and many others who have so generously helped me in my journey toward ordination.