Permanent diaconate flourishing as more men ordained

MURRELLS INLET—Sixteen new permanent deacons will be serving the Diocese of Charleston, and one man is now closer to the priesthood after being ordained to the transitional diaconate. 

Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone ordained the men at St. Michael Church on Feb. 9. The liturgy took place in front of hundreds of family and friends, many of whom had traveled long distances to see their loved ones fulfill their dream of serving God in a new way. They were joined by 58 permanent deacons and 35 priests who came to show their support. 

The class of 2019 is part of a remarkably strong permanent diaconate program in the diocese. They follow 35 men who were ordained in 2016, with another large class in two years. 

Ordination to the permanent diaconate is an elaborate and emotional ceremony. Bishop Guglielmone explained the duties of a deacon and then the crowd knelt while the men prostrated themselves before the altar during the Litany of the Saints. This is a sung series of prayers where the congregation petitions Jesus, Mary, dozens of saints and other holy men and women to intercede for the ordinands. 

Seminarian Bruce Barnett of St. Theresa the Little Flower Church in Summerville was also ordained, although he is entering the transitional diaconate, which is the last milestone before being ordained to the priesthood. Deacon Barnett had previously started on the permanent diaconate track before discerning a call to be a priest, and decided he wanted to be ordained with his former classmates. Read his story below.

The bishop laid his hands on the men and prayed, and then the newly ordained deacons were vested with the stole and dalmatic, traditional vestments for deacons. The bishop also handed them the book of the Gospels, which symbolizes their new ability to proclaim the Word at Mass. 

Permanent deacons also assist priests during Mass, preside at funerals and wakes, lead prayer services and benedictions, and visit the sick and dying. Deacons also perform many roles in parishes such as teaching religious education. 

Photo by Keith Jacobs/Miscellany: Bishop Guglielmone joins the new deacons and their wives for a group photo.

Deacon Barnett has the same duties as a transitional deacon. 

During the ordination, Bishop Guglielmone offered a blessing for the deacons’ wives and commended them for supporting their husbands through the long process of study. 

After their ordination, many of the new deacons stood in the church taking photos with family and friends, and then gathered for a reception in the activity hall. 

The ordinands were visibly moved by their new status in the Church and also relieved and happy that the years of work were completed. 

Deacon Joseph Keating of Blessed Sacrament Church in Charleston said those years of study were especially challenging. During the five years, he suffered the loss of a son, his mother and a brother. Dealing with his grief while working and studying was difficult, but he persevered. 

“Becoming a deacon feels like going home,” Deacon Keating said. “The process was hard and the classes were demanding, but now this is a really happy day and I am at peace. I think because of some of the losses I experienced, I now can help a lot of people who have been through similar things.” 

Deacon Keating’s daughter stood nearby, holding his new grandson, and he said he will soon be using his duties as a deacon for a happy milestone: He will baptize the baby in a few weeks. 

Father Gregory Wilson, pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken, took photos with his newly ordained brother, Deacon George Wilson Jr., who attends St. Paul the Apostle Church in Spartanburg. Father Wilson said it was an emotional experience to see his sibling’s vocation become a reality. 

Deacon Wilson said his ordination was the result of a long spiritual journey that started with his conversion to the faith. He discerned a call to the diaconate for more than 10 years before beginning his studies. 

“This has all been an amazing experience,” he said. “Now, I’m looking forward to just doing what needs to be done at my parish and I’m looking forward to serving God’s people.” 

Top photo, Keith Jacobs/Miscellany: Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrates the diaconate ordination at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet on Feb. 9. 

Bruce Barnett takes the next step to priesthood

Seminarian Bruce Barnett was ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on Feb. 9 at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet. His ordination came on the same day as 16 other men were ordained to the permanent diaconate.

Deacon Barnett asked to be ordained at the same time as the other ordinands because they previously were his classmates. He studied for the permanent diaconate before he discerned a call to the priesthood.

Deacon Barnett is studying at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Mass. His call to the priesthood came late in life, when he was in his 50s and had already retired from the Bosch Corporation. Barnett has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering and he previously worked in the petroleum, paper, chemical and automotive industries.

As a transitional deacon, Deacon Barnett will proclaim the Gospel, assist at liturgies, witness a marriage, give homilies and baptize.

The transitional diaconate is the last milestone step before ordination to the priesthood. As he ordained Deacon Barnett, Bishop Guglielmone reminded him that he differs from the permanent deacons because he has committed to a life of celibacy in the priesthood.

“You free yourself more completely for service to God and to the people of God,” Bishop Guglielmone said. “This is an affirming time for you to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord.”

Read about each of the new permanent deacons below:

Pelagio Bautista Caoile (64)
Parish: Immaculate Conception, Goose Creek
Pastor/Administrator: Father Noly Berjuega, CRM
Spouse: Irma
Number of children: 2
Profession: Retired


Daniel Carrera Camarena (61)
Parish: St. Peter, Beaufort
Pastor/Administrator: Father Andrew Trapp
Spouse: Maria
Number of children: 7
Profession: Beaufort County Schools Maintenance


Theodore Bryan Clement (53)
Parish: St. Anne, Rock Hill
Pastor/Administrator: Father Fabio Refosco
Spouse: Patricia
Number of children: 3
Profession: Software Engineer/Teacher


Andrew Da Silva (41)
Parish: St. Anne, Rock Hill
Pastor/Administrator: Father Refosco
Spouse: Jackie
Number of children: 3 children, 1 grandchild
Profession: Maintenance technician for the 145th Air National Guard


Brian Patrick Durocher (42)
Parish: The Basilica of St. Peter, Columbia
Pastor/Administrator: Father Gary S. Linsky
Spouse: Brandi
Number of children: 8
Profession: Vice President, Information Technology


Karl Phillip Eimers (48)
Parish: St. Clare of Assisi, Daniel Island
Pastor/Administrator: Father H. Gregory West
Spouse: Maureen
Number of children: 3
Profession: Engineer


Stephen Cox Goodman (49)
Parish: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Camden
Pastor/Administrator: Father John Zimmerman
Spouse: Silvia
Number of children: 2
Profession: Talent acquisition team lead


James R. Hinnerschitz (55)
Parish: St. James the Younger, Conway
Administrator Pro Tem: Father Edward W. Fitzgerald
Spouse: Tami
Number of children: 6 children, 1 grandchild
Profession: Manager, business analysis


Joseph Keating (58)
Parish: Blessed Sacrament, Charleston
Pastor/Administrator: Father Joseph Romanoski
Spouse: Macarena
Number of children: 3 children, 7 grandchildren
Profession: Owner, Carolina Dock and Marine


John M. Leininger (62)
Parish: St. Andrew, Clemson
Pastor/Administrator: Father Daniel McLellan
Spouse: Nancy
Number of children: 2 children, 4 grandchildren
Profession: Retired


Edward Long (49)
Parish: St. Benedict, Mount Pleasant
Pastor/Administrator: Father Mark Good
Spouse: Sonja
Number of children: 3
Profession: Physical therapist


Carlos Marin Najera (49)
Parish: St. Anthony, Walterboro
Pastor/Administrator: Father Antony Benjamine
Spouse: Alicia
Number of children: 5 children, 1 granddaughter
Profession: Director of CCD and Hispanic ministry coordinator


Joseph A. Mauriello Jr. (68)
Parish: Christ Our King, Mount Pleasant
Pastor/Administrator: Father Robert Spencer
Spouse: Marilyn
Number of children: 2 children, 2 grandchildren
Profession: Retired physician


Timothy Lee Papa (53)
Parish: St. James the Younger, Conway
Administrator Pro Tem: Father Edward W. Fitzgerald
Spouse: Norma
Number of children: 1
Profession: Area manager


Gustavo A. Suarez (41)
Parish: Prince of Peace, Taylors
Pastor/Administrator: Father Christopher Smith
Spouse: Andrea
Number of children: 4
Profession: Attorney


George Arthur Wilson Jr. (47)
Parish: St. Paul the Apostle, Spartanburg
Pastor/Administrator: Father David Whitman
Spouse: Janet
Number of children: 3
Profession: Special investigator