GOOSE CREEK—After nearly a decade on hiatus, the diaconate program is enjoying a blessing of bountiful renewal.
Last year, 35 men were ordained into the permanent diaconate, and soon, another batch will enter the ministry. On Feb. 11, Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone will ordain 15 men to the permanent diaconate at Immaculate Conception Church, followed by a reception in their honor. About 40 deacons plan to attend the ordination, along with priests from the various parishes, plus friends and family members, said Cristene Diesso, administrative assistant with the Office of the Permanent Diaconate.
The candidates come to the vocation from a wide variety of professions including engineers, scientists, first responders and teachers.
Another 34 men are in formation, with ordinations scheduled for 2019 and 2021, said Deacon André Guillet, director of the Permanent Diaconate. They also have another four men who have applied and others who have expressed an interest in formation.
Deacon André explained that formerly, priests were in charge of teaching classes to the deacons, which was difficult to arrange because pastors’ workloads are so large. Now classes are taught by professors from St. Leo University.
Men who seek the ministry must complete four years of study and successfully balance jobs and family responsibilities. During the interview process, Deacon André said they also speak to the candidates’ wives and children to make sure everyone is on board.
“Deacons must be ready to serve the people of God, with humility, and using the word JOY in their ministry,” he advised. “J, Jesus is always first; O, Others are second; Y, Yourself Last. If you use that word, you’ll always be full of JOY.”
As part of their ministry, deacons bring the Word to the poor, the aged, the sick, and the imprisoned. They proclaim the Gospel and preach at liturgical celebrations, provide catechetical instruction, adult faith formation, and sacramental preparation. They assist priests during Mass, administer baptisms, witness marriages, preside at funerals and wakes, officiate at benedictions, and lead community prayer services.
A deacon is a visible sign of the Church’s call to “diakonia” — service. He is both servant and sacrament.
Among the required qualifications for applying, a man must be a practicing Catholic for five years or more, be between the ages of 30-55, and have received the sacraments of baptism, Eucharist and confirmation.
Deacon André said that new deacons are only assigned to parishes where the priest has requested and approved the applicant.
Here is a look at the 15 men who will be ordained on Feb. 11:
Michael Joseph Bannio (50)
Parish: Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville
Pastor/administrator: Father Dwight Longenecker
Profession: Software engineer
Galo de Jesús Barreto (51)
Parish: St. Francis by the Sea on Hilton Head Island
Pastor/administrator: Father Michael Oenbrink
Salvatore L. Cancello (53)
Parish: St. Joseph in Anderson
Pastor/administrator: Father Philip Gillespie
Children: Four, plus three grandchildren
Profession: Director of finance
Joseph Dennis (51)
Parish: St. Gerard in Aiken
Pastor/administrator: Father Emmanuel Andinam
Children: Three, plus two grandchildren
Profession: Emergency medical technician
Larry Michael Deschaine, Ph.D., PE (54)
Parish: St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Edgefield
Pastor/administrator: Father Filip Wodecki
Bruce Allen Fortnum, Ph.D. (65)
Parish: St. Anthony in Florence
Pastor/administrator: Father Robert Morey
Children: Two, plus one grandchild
Profession: Director and professor emeritus, Pee Dee Research and Education Center at Clemson University
James Normand Letendre (71)
Parish: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston
Pastor/administrator: Msgr. Steven Brovey
Keith Lentz Riddle (60)
Parish: Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant
Pastor/administrator: Msgr. James A. Carter
Profession: Director of Mission for Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and Roper-St. Francis Healthcare
Randy Carl Sexton, M.D., (61)
Parish: St. Paul the Apostle in Seneca
Pastor/administrator: Father William Hearne
Spouse: Mary Lynn
Children: Three, plus four grandchildren
Profession: ER physician
Gerard Thibodeaux (65)
Parish: St. John Neumann in Columbia
Pastor/administrator: Father C. Alexander McDonald, STL
Children: Two, plus three grandchildren
Profession: Real estate developer/auctioneer
Andrew Charles Thomas (42)
Parish: St. Michael the Archangel in Murrells Inlet
Pastor/administrator: Father Edward Fitzgerald
Jason Michael Vaughan (43)
Parish: Stella Maris on Sullivan’s Island
Pastor/administrator: Msgr. Lawrence McInerny
Profession: Pastoral associate
John Anthony Villano (52)
Parish: Holy Cross in Pickens
Pastor/administrator: Father James N. Dubrouillet
Children: Two, plus one grandchild
Profession: Controls engineer
Gerard Castling White (52)
Parish: Blessed Sacrament in Charleston
Pastor/administrator: Father Joseph Romanoski
Profession: Diocesan director of youth and young adults
Ruben Zamudio (60)
Parish: Our Lady of Peace in North Augusta
Pastor/administrator: Father Jacob Joseph, CMI
Children: Four, plus four grandchildren
Profession: Supervisor, Natural Gas Transportation
Celebrate with the new deacons
The diaconate ordination will be held Feb. 11 at 11 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek. It will also be live-streamed: livestream.com/dioceseofcharleston/2017ordination.
Top photo, Miscellany/Doug Deas: Men lie prostrate during the 2016 ordination for the permanent diaconate held at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville.