Permanent diaconate candidates with their wives: (top row) Miguelina and Osvaldo Rosario Fernandez; Susan and Robert Horne; and David Giangiordano. (Middle row) Diane and Charles Kelley; Ynes and Julio Sanchez; and Anita and Francis Sung. (Bottom row) Mory and Jim Thompson; and Maria Josefina and Cristino Ynfante. Photo courtesy/Deacon Timothy F. Donohue
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BRAINTREE -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will ordain eight men to the Order of Permanent Deacon at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury on Sept. 29.
Four years ago these men began their classes and their formation that will culminate in their ordination this weekend. The four-year program includes classes in theology, pastoral care, Church history and a practicum as a chaplain in local hospitals. The Permanent Diaconate Formation Program also requires two retreats a year, one with wives and one together as a class and monthly meetings on Saturday's for special speakers and topics not covered in the curriculum. The program now offers candidates the option to complete their Master's Degree in Theology after ordination with a few additional courses at The Theological Institute for New Evangelization.
Following are brief biographies of each of the men being ordained this year.
Osvaldo Fernandez and his wife, Miguelina Rosario, were born and raised in the Dominican Republic. They have been members of the St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence for 25 years.
Fernandez came to Lawrence in April of 1990, where he is a business owner/engineer at Mercedes Home Appliance. Fernandez received his Master's Degree in Engineering in the Dominican Republic. His wife cared for 6 children, now grown: Osvaldo, Lewin, Edgar, Christian, Hilda and Genesis, and currently helps to care for eight grandchildren.
Fernandez said that in September 2009 he heard his calling to become a deacon and made the decision to fully change his life for his family, God, and most especially himself. During his four years of formation, Fernandez says he has grown spiritually, and emotionally.
"Not only did my wife and family help me understand the meaning of selfless love, but also my classmates and instructors helped me grow the light I had within that helped me through my formation. I greatly understand now how God has always been within me. I am thankful for my support system, who helped me appreciate the blessings in my life. I want to thank God for allowing me the opportunity to serve my community and my family," he said.
Deacon Fernandez will be assigned to Corpus Christi Parish in Lawrence.
Robert Horne and his wife Susan have been married for thirty-one years. They belong to St. Joseph Parish in Needham, where Susan is the pastoral assistant for Evangelization. The Horne's have three children: Andrew, a teacher at The University of Chicago; Brian, a captain in the Marine Corp; and Catherine, a college senior.
Horne's career has been in information technology for financial services firms, most recently with State Street Bank.
He grew up in West Roxbury and attended Holy Name Parish. Now at St. Joseph Parish, Horne has served as a lector, member of the parish pastoral council, and driver for those needing transportation to attend Mass.
After attending the certificate program on the catechism offered through St. John's Seminary Theological Institute, Horne was looking to learn more about the faith and the Church. His parochial vicar, Father Guy Sciacca, approached him to talk about the permanent diaconate and a seed was planted.
Horne and his wife then made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2013 where he felt God's call to pursue candidacy.
For Horne, the years of formation were like the experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: a heart burning to know God's love as revealed to us through his word and Church.
He said his prayer is that the Holy Spirit will inspire him to live by the words of St. Peter to, "announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
Deacon Horne will be assigned to St. Joseph Parish in Needham.
David Giangiordano is a lifetime parishioner at St. James Parish in Stoughton. He is single.
He grew up in Canton and attended Blue Hills Regional High School where he learned his trade as a welder.
He said he believes that he has always had a calling to serve the Church.
"I can remember as a child in the 1970s going to church and listening to the priest, Father Crowley, and his big booming voice echoing throughout the church really left an impression on me. I remember going home and saying 'Mass' to my family, trying my best to imitate him," he said.
"Over the years this calling really never left me. Then in February of 2008 my mother and I were over at the gift shop at the Chapel of Our Savior at the Westgate Mall in Brockton (run by The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement) I can remember one of the brothers, Brother Savio Mcniece, asking me if I were a priest. At that moment I really started to think about a religious life again," he said.
After filling out an application for The Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and visiting their main house in Garrison New York, he was told he was too old to be a candidate.
Disappointed, he said "the feeling went back on the back-burner again" until one day he was speaking to Deacon Pat Guerini, who suggested he consider the diaconate.
"We talked after Mass that Sunday and then we had a meeting where he gave me the information to contact the director of the diaconate formation program. In September of 2014 I began classes," Giangiordano said.
"Over the four years of formation with the help of my teachers and classmates and family and friends I have really grown in the faith and learned so much more than I ever knew. I have truly been blessed over these four years and I am very excited to begin this new chapter in my life," he said.
Giangiordano will be assigned to the Catholic Parishes of Stoughton, St. James and Immaculate Conception.
Charles "Chuck" Kelley and his wife Diane have been married for 32 years, and are members of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Townsend. The Kelleys have three adult children: Joseph, Brendan and Amber.
Kelley attributes his faith formation to his parents and especially his grandmother. Over the years, Kelley has been involved in a variety of ministries in his parish, including religious education, lector, folk group, coordinating men's retreats, eucharistic minister and is one of the founding officers of St. John's Knights of Columbus Council #14842.
Chuck indicated his discernment to the Permanent Diaconate developed over the years through close dialogue with his wife.
"Diane provided great encouragement to me in discerning the diaconate, and throughout the four years of formation. The word deacon, or 'diakonia' is the biblical Greek word for service; and Diane has modeled true service through her devotion to our family and being an excellent mother to our three children. With God's grace, I hope to exercise the office of deacon with the same level of dedication and care as she does for our family," he said.
Kelley further credits his discernment to his fellow classmates for their generosity and friendship, the sound spiritual direction from Father Ed Derosier of St. Anthony of Padua in Shirley, the pastoral mentoring of Father Jeremy St. Martin and the enthusiastic sponsorship of his home parish in Townsend.
Kelley will be assigned to St. John the Evangelist Parish in Townsend.
Francis Sung and his wife Anita, now living in Wayland, have been 36-year members of St. James the Greater Church in Boston's Chinatown, which hosts the Boston Chinese Catholic Community. They have raised 4 children of their own: Dominic, Priscilla, Benjamin and Benedict, as well as the children of Anita's late sister, Jonathan and Rebecca.
Both are retired and currently enjoy babysitting their only grandson, Aidan.
Sung credits his 7-year boarding school experience in Hong Kong under the guidance of Salesian Fathers and Brothers for his faith foundation; especially Father Michael Ng, who coached him in choir directing, preparing him for his many years of leading the choir at St. James. Additionally, his service at St. James includes facilitating faith sharing groups, leading the liturgy committee, training lectors, assisting in the upkeep of church property and being the webmaster of the parish website.
While it was his wife who suggested that he consider the permanent diaconate, the seed to serve God was sown during his boarding school years and sparked by his decision to retire early and downsize after becoming an empty-nester. The lack of Cantonese-speaking priests in recent years further deepened his sense of God's calling for his service.
"During the 4-year formation, my instructors and classmates taught me a lot in many aspects both intellectually and spiritually about my faith. I am also impressed, thankful and encouraged that Anita accompanied me to all my classes throughout the 4 years," Sung said.
Sung said his hope is to help evangelize, especially among the Chinese, and to build a stronger faith in parents in order to help sow the seed of faith in the younger generation.
Francis will be assigned to St. James the Greater in Boston.
Julio J. Sanchez and his wife, Ynes, worship at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence. They have five grown children and both work for Lawrence Public Schools.
"I am very thankful to God because my faith journey started when I was a child, thanks to my parents, Toribio and Ramona. They taught me a lot about our Catholic faith, but especially the devotion to the Virgin Mary, the love of the Eucharist, and how to live a good Christian life by their examples," Sanchez said.
The couple has served the Church in numerous ministries such as catechesis, the RCIA program, confirmation preparation, and children's liturgy.
Sanchez said his discernment of the diaconate vocation began in 2004 when he came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic.
"Being in a new country, I had the opportunity to analyze how I was spending my life's years, and what I will bring to God's presence when I die. Then, I came to realize that I have to serve God in a more committed way," he said.
Sanchez credits his wife, Ynes, for always supporting him.
"She has been my 'angel'; her wisdom has been my strength since the beginning of our relationship," he said.
As Sanchez reflected on his last four years of formation, he said, "I could see many moments of grace inspired by the Holy Spirit: retreats, conferences, inspired lectures, and the strong brotherhood, which will last forever. At the dawn of this new life, I pray with the words from Wisdom 9, 'Give me wisdom, O Lord, who stands by your throne, and let me not be unworthy to be your servant.'"
Deacon Sanchez will be assigned to St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence.
Jim Thompson and his wife Mory live in Abington and are members of St. Mary Parish in Hanover.
Thompson is a customer service representative at The Walter Morris Company, holding several positions for the last 38 years. His wife works for The Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Boston. The couple have two adult children: Brian is serving in the Navy in Italy, and Aidan is married to Alanna and they have two children, Macy and Charlie.
Thompson has participated in several ministries including, facilitator of small faith sharing groups, lector, and extraordinary eucharistic minister.
"The first deacon that I met was at my parish. I saw in this man what appeared to be a sense of peace. He seemed to me to be a kind and compassionate man and looked as if to be in a place where God called him. At that time, I had not felt the call or was even thinking about the diaconate yet, but here was someone that had what I longed to have," he said.
Thompson said that, unlike some men who have always felt a call, his vocation came later, after a time of being away from the Church.
"After being back in the Church for about seven years I met another deacon. At that point, I was curious about what was involved in the diaconate but I was still not sure. Through our pastoral associate, I received the calling in a subtle way when she said to the group I was facilitating 'Wouldn't Jim be a good deacon?' Later, a friend asked me if I thought about becoming a deacon. I felt as though the Holy Spirit was drawing me into it," he said.
Looking back on his four years of formation, he said he "came to realize that it is more than an education, it is a transformation of the heart and soul. This would have not been possible if Jesus had not become the center of my life. My greatest desire is to return the love that he has given me. I want to make that love available to others through the gift of my ministry. Caring for his Father's children was not a duty for Jesus, it was a gift of love and self-sacrifice."
Deacon Thompson will be assigned to St. Mary of the Sacred Heart in Hanover and St. Helen in Norwell.
Cristino Ynfante and his wife, Maria Josefina, have been married for 29 years and worship at St. Mary of the Assumption in Lawrence. They have two children, Crislenny and Leslie.
When asked about his discernment to the diaconate, Ynfante responded, "In the summer of 2014, my pastor, Father Carlos Urbina, approached me while I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He touched my shoulder and said: 'What are you waiting for to be a deacon?' I didn't say anything to him at that time."
"It was like God himself had touched me that day. I couldn't describe the feeling that I felt in my heart. Immediately, I praised the Lord and I said to God, 'Thy will be done in me.' I will do what you've asked me to do. A sensation of peace and joy was with me since that moment," he said.
Deacon Ynfante will be assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Lawrence.