Archbishop to deacons: Make your marriages ‘stand out’

Karna Swanson

“It’s essential that your marriages stand out,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila told nine men who were ordained to the permanent diaconate June 17 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

“As deacons, you will be called to serve in numerous ways,” he said in his homily before the ordination of nine permanent deacons and one transitional deacon. “Always remember that marriage is your first vocation, and that your marriage must come first.”

He called them to be witnesses to the world of “the gift of marriage and to the blessing of marriage.”

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila prays during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

In a word to the priests who will be working with the deacons in the parishes, the Archbishop encouraged them to also remember that the deacons are married men with wives and children, and grandchildren.

“They do have a family. They do have responsibilities. And even one of them is young enough to still have six young children,” the archbishop said, referring to 39-year-old Deacon Greg Perzinski of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Aurora.

The archbishop prayed in his closing remarks that the deacons be “witnesses in the world.”

“May the Lord whose word is truth, who has placed his word in your mouth, continue to strengthen you, and continue to guide you in your ministry,” he said. “May you continue to open your hearts to ever greater receptivity to his word, as Mary’s heart was open to his word.

“Know that Mary intercedes for you each day as her sons to lead you to the one son, her son, Jesus Christ. … May your love for him continue to increase each day, and may you be faithful servants of Christ and the Church.”

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: The ordinandi pray during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

The ordained permanent deacons include David Joseph Arling, Ronald Francis Beck, Geoffrey Bruce Bennett, Halbert Ray Goldwire II, Robert Salvatore Lanciotti, Ernest Toribio Martinez, Darell Ladd Nepil, Gregory Michael Perzinski, and Patrick Joseph Travis.

A tenth deacon was ordained at the Mass to the transitional diaconate. Shannon Thurman is currently studying to be a priest for the Archdiocese of Denver. He studies at the St. John XXIII Seminary in Massachusetts.

After the homily, each of the elect stood before the archbishop and declared their intention to be ordained. They promised to be consecrated, to discharge their office with humility so as to assist the priestly order, to preserve and proclaim the mystery of faith, to deepen their spirit of prayer, and to be conformed to the Lord’s body and blood.

Then each of the elect stood before the archbishop and declared their intention to be ordained. Each individual deacon then knelt before the archbishop and placed their hands between his.

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: The ordinandi lay prostrate before the altar during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

“Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?” the archbishop asked.

“I do,” each of the elect said.

“May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to fulfillment,” the archbishop said.

The men lay prostrate before the altar while the choir and congregation sang a litany of the saints and of supplication.

The archbishop then laid hands on each of the elect and silently said the prayers of ordination.

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila lays his hands upon Hal Goldwire during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

 

After their ordination, the deacons were invested with the stole and dalmatic, which serve as an outward manifestation of their ordination. Each was then presented with the book of the Gospels and exhorted to believe, teach and practice what he reads.

Then the archbishop and all the deacons present gave the newly ordained the kiss of peace to welcome them into the ministry.

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: The newly ordained deacons exchange the Kiss of Peace with fellow deacons during the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

The Mass then proceeded, with the newly ordained deacons moving into the sanctuary to assist at the Mass.

The diaconate is one of three ranks of holy orders—deacons, priests and bishops—in the Catholic Church and dates to the time of the Apostles. The Book of Acts relates that the order was established when the Apostles told the Christian community to select “seven reputable men, filled with the Spirit and wisdom” to serve the community and free the Apostles to focus on “prayer and ministry of the word” (6:3, 4). The men were chosen and the Apostles “prayed and laid hands on them” (6:6).

DENVER, CO – JUNE 17: From left, Ernest Martinez, Gregory Perzinski, Ron Beck, David Arling, Bishop Jorge Rodriguez, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Geoffrey Bennett, Darrell Nepil, Hal Goldwire, Patrick Travis, Shannon Thurman, and Robert Lanciotti pose for a portrait following the Mass of Holy Orders Ordination of Deacons at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 17, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

Over time, the diaconate became a transitional step for men studying to be priests. It was restored as a permanent ministry by Pope Paul VI on June 18, 1967, as a result of the Second Vatican Council.

The first permanent deacons in the United States were ordained in 1971. The first in the archdiocese—10 men—were ordained by Archbishop James Casey on April 6, 1974.

The word “diaconate” comes from the Greek diakonia, which means “service.” Deacons may officiate at baptisms, weddings, wakes and funerals, and may preach and distribute Communion. They cannot consecrate the Eucharist, hear confessions or anoint the sick.

Today, there are 207 permanent deacons in the archdiocese; 179 of them are in active ministry.

Deacon David Arling

Deacon Arling, 70, is a native of Dayton, OH, but lives now in Broomfield with his wife of 38 years, Marianne. They have three children: Lisa, John and Michael. His parish is Nativity of Our Lord in Broomfield. He’s been an active Catholic for many years, and came to consider the diaconate after being asked several times if he had considered it.

“When I was involved in parish catechetics, hospital chapel and jail ministries in Pueblo, my enthusiasm for Mass, liturgical music, the saints, and sharing reflections was evident. Several people approached me and asked if I had considered becoming a deacon. Those affirmations pointed me in the right direction, and into discernment,” he told Denver Catholic.

Deacon Ronald F. Beck

Deacon Beck, 70, settled in Colorado after a brief stint at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Denver. He lives in Arvada with his wife, Linda, and their parish is Shrine of St. Anne. “God the Father rescued my life from alcoholism and His providential love has stayed with me all these years,” he said of his road to the diaconate.

“I pray the parishioners at St. Anne’s will support me as they have for the many years I have been there,” he told Denver Catholic. “I hope they see the human Christ in me and then, together, experience Christ’s saving divinity.”

Deacon Geoffrey Bennett
Deacon Bennett, 52, is from Yardley, PA. He and his wife Donna attend Holy Trinity Parish, and have four children: Lindsay, Dominican Sister Daniela, Kyle and Jacob. He began to consider the Diaconate after converting to Catholicism in the late 90s, but it was when he moved to Denver in 2007 that he felt a strong call to apply for the 2017 class.

“It wasn’t until a couple of people brought it to my attention after I converted in the late 90s that I started to reflect and pray on the possibility of God calling me to the diaconate,” he told Denver Catholic. “When I moved to Denver in 2007 my discernment continued and I felt like the Lord was leading me to apply for the class of 2017.”

Deacon Hal Goldwire
Deacon Goldwire, 52, is a native of Toledo, Ohio, and currently lives in Lakewood. He and his wife, Miki, attend St. Vincent de Paul Parish, and they have three children: Halie, Josh and Kara. Deacon Goldwire attributes his spiritual growth to spiritual direction at The Lanteri Center for Ignatian Spirituality, which helped him to grow in prayer and personal relationship with Christ.

The Lanteri Center “allowed me to grow in a relationship with Jesus, rather than just maintaining a heady theological understanding of Christ,” he told Denver Catholic. “Then through praying the Jesus Prayer, this relationship moved 18 inches from my head to an indwelling of my heart—perhaps the longest pilgrimage I’ve ever made!”

Deacon Robert Lanciotti
Deacon Lanciotti, 57, is a native of Fort Collins, and he and his wife, Ruth, attend St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. They have been married 33 years and they have four children: Christopher, Elizabeth, Daniel and Maria. They also have two grandchildren. For Deacon Lanciotti, the call to the Diaconate began when he saw a deacon serve Mass for the first time.

“The first time that I saw a permanent deacon serving at Mass was when I moved to Colorado 28 years ago and observed Deacon Bill Trewartha,” he told Denver Catholic. “Watching Deacon Bill was when I first experienced a call to serve Christ as a deacon. I had very young children at that time, and so I did not follow through with this call until many years later when my children were older.

“Yet all that time I continued to pray, and the call to be a deacon became clearer and stronger.”

“Like Peter,” he continued, “I certainly do not feel worthy or able to be a servant of Christ, yet I believe that God will supply all the grace I need to follow His will.”

Deacon Ernest Martinez
Deacon Martinez, 55, is from Denver, and he and his wife, Gloria, attend Notre Dame Parish. They have three children (one son and two daughters), and four grandsons. Deacon Martinez has served his community as a police officer, and looks forward to serving now “in the most important way.” He credits Mary with bringing him closer to Jesus, and to the Diaconate.

When asked about the greatest spiritual influence his life, he said, “It was Jesus on the cross, just before He died, giving us a beautiful gift—His Mother. It was the Blessed Virgin Mary who guided me towards her Son’s stirring in my heart. She interceded for my wife through her cancer battle, she interceded to bring awareness to me by others example of living this great calling to serve our Church, the Body of Christ.”

Deacon Darell Nepil
Deacon Nepil, 62, is from Highlands Ranch, CO, and will serve at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He and his wife, Mary, have three children: Father John (a priest of the Archdiocese of Denver), Stephen and Katie. They also have three grandchildren. A cradle Catholic, he was catapulted into taking his faith more seriously after watching his children grow in their spiritual lives.

“I’m a cradle Catholic,” he told Denver Catholic, “but when I saw that my children were passing me up on their conversions, spiritual development and prayer life, I suddenly realized that I needed to do something.

“Deacon Joe Donohoe worked at the same company as I did, and would regularly encourage me to consider the permanent diaconate. I, of course, always had a reason on why I could not do it—too busy, not smart enough, unworthy. During this time, however, I continued to feel the pull on my heart from the good Lord.”

“I am still unworthy of this call,” he continued, “but I am very excited to be ordained by Archbishop Aquila as a servant of Christ to serve the people in love and joy.”

Deacon Greg Perzinski
Deacon Perzinski, 39, is originally from Rock Springs, Wyoming. He and his wife, Amber, have six children: Sam, Katie, Grace, Andy, Bethany and John. He is grateful for the “blessing to be serving St. Michael the Archangel parish in Aurora.” His road to the Diaconate began when a deacon prepared him and his wife for the baptism of his oldest daughter.

“I distinctly recall initially getting the call to the diaconate as we were preparing for the baptism of our oldest daughter,” he told Denver Catholic, “and a permanent deacon prepared the class and ministered the sacrament. His service started me on the path to inquire into this Holy Order.”

Deacon Pat Travis
Deacon Travis, 68, is from Loveland, and he and his wife, Theresa, attend St. John the Evangelist in Loveland. They have two children: Mike and Alexa; and they also have two grandchildren. His road to the diaconate began when he joined St. John the Evangelist parish in 2003, and observed the example of many good people, but particularly “four devoted deacons.”

“Over the years, other deacons were assigned to the parish: all holy, devoted men with a strong presence of service to the parish,” he told Denver Catholic. “The parish has also been blessed with many holy priests who served our people well and set great examples for all to witness.

“St. John’s has been blessed with a considerable number of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious life and missionaries. Our Lady of Guadalupe Adoration Chapel was completed in March 2014, and our parish groups faithfully pray for vocations. I am thankful to have the support of so many prayerful parishioners and look forward to serving as one of their deacons.”

COMING UP: Eleven men ordained deacons

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

Eleven men were ordained to the diaconate on June 20 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila served as the ordaining prelate.

Before the homily, a deacon called for each of the candidates by name. The archbishop accepted all 11 men for ordination.

Archbishop Aquila gave his homily on the day’s readings: Jer 1:4-9 (“before I formed you in the womb, I knew you…” Acts 8:26-40 (Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch) and Jn 15:9-17 (part of the Last Supper discourses). The archbishop emphasized that the new deacons must rest in Christ’s love to be able to fulfill their ministry.

“The Lord assures Jeremiah, and assures us today, that when he formed us in the womb he knew us,” he said. “You must know in your own heart that each of you is a beloved son of Jesus.”

He told them not to be afraid if persecutions come, because Christ will send his spirit, just as he did to Philip when he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch.

“You will be called to proclaim Jesus. Not what you think about Jesus, not your own thoughts and opinions, but Jesus,” Archbishop Aquila said.

He also reminded the men that there would be no room for pride in their ministry.

“You will be configured to Christ the servant through Jesus. Remember that Jesus came to serve. He had no spirit of entitlement,” Aquila said.

The archbishop also explained the deacons’ specific roles, which include proclaiming the Gospel and preparing the altar.

“In serving the word, you will be called to proclaim the Gospel. You will need to encounter Jesus in that word, so that you may preach him,” the archbishop said. “Deacons are entrusted especially with the precious blood. It is a reminder that you are called to give your lives.”

Along with this, he reminded them that they had to serve their primary vocation first.

“Your first vocation, your first state in life, is your marriage. It will be important for you to seek a balance between your ministry and our family,” he said.

“Your family must never come second. You must love your wives and children.”

After the homily, each of the elect stood before the archbishop and declared their intention to be ordained. They promised to be consecrated, to discharge their office with humility so as to assist the priestly order, to preserve and proclaim the mystery of faith, to deepen their spirit of prayer, and to be conformed to the Lord’s body and blood.

Each individual deacon then knelt before the archbishop and placed their hands between his.

“Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors?” the archbishop asked.

“I do,” each of the elect said.

“May God who has begun a good work in you bring it to fulfillment,” the archbishop said.

The men lay prostrate before the altar while the choir and congregation sang a litany of the saints and of supplication.

The archbishop then laid hands on each of the elect and silently said the prayers of ordination.

After their ordination, the deacons were invested with the stole and dalmatic, which serve as an outward manifestation of their ordination. Each was then presented with the book of the Gospels and exhorted to believe, teach and practice what he reads. Then the archbishop and all the deacons present gave the newly ordained the kiss of peace to welcome them into the ministry.

The Mass then proceeded, with the newly ordained deacons moving into the sanctuary to assist at the Mass.

Meet Denver’s new deacons

Deacon August Cordova
Age: 45
Hometown: Pueblo
Parish: St. John the Evangelist Parish, Loveland
Family: Wife, Regina, and three children
Deacon August Cordova considers himself a product of St. Pope John Paul II. “He’s been very inspirational in my life,” he said. He attended World Youth Day Denver 1993, Manila 1995, Paris 1997, Rome 2000 and Toronto 2002. He was first asked about considering the diaconate in Toronto. The suggestion came again when working as director of religious education at St. John the Evangelist in Loveland. A deacon said, “August, you have a big ‘D’ on your forehead. You should consider signing up for the diaconate.” With the support of his family, he entered the diaconate. “I really feel that’s what God is calling me to do is participating in the diakonia, which means servant in Greek,” he said. He continues to work at St. John the Evangelist and spends his free time with his family. “The formation has been wonderful not only for me but my wife,” Deacon Cordova said. “Because of the diaconate and the formation, we have grown spiritually like you wouldn’t believe. It’s been a beautiful journey.”

 

Deacon Michael Daly
Age: 39
Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.
Parish: Our Lady of Fatima, Lakewood
Family: Wife, Megan, and six children
When Deacon Michael Daly was asked if he thought about being a deacon, he laughed and said, “No, I’m the wrong guy.” The call to the diaconate became stronger in 2002, and he said he prayed for a long time about it, telling God he thought he was the wrong guy for the job. He has a busy schedule with a wife and six children and working in law enforcement for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “But God knows better than me. The call just never stopped,” he said. As deacon, he said he would most like to help people realize their dignity and to see the face of Jesus. “I would really like to help everyone come to know the reality that Jesus is a person and that he exists right here and now,” Deacon Daly said. He credits the Holy Spirit with making the diaconate possible. “I’m excited and I’m just humbled that God has brought me all of this way.”

 

Deacon Timothy Hathaway
Age: 60
Hometown: Centennial
Assigned Parish: Mother of God Parish, Denver, and Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
Family: Wife, Jessie, two children and six grandchildren
Deacon Timothy Hathaway has spent his life in service. First, he served his country for more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. Now he wants to serve the Church. “When I grew in my faith, I felt the need to serve my Church more,” he said. He was asked if he wanted to become a deacon while stationed in Oceanside, Calif., and then again, after retiring from the Marine Corps., at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. He accepted the call and began diaconal formation. “I’m increasingly aware of my unworthiness but at the same time eager to begin working again to build our Church in whatever small way that I’m called to do through my various ministries as assigned by the archbishop or as assigned by the Holy Spirit,” he said. He’s looking forward to bringing more people into the Church and leading them to the sacraments.

 

Deacon Robert Hoffman
Age: 63
Parish: Christ the King Church, Evergreen
Family: Wife, Bonnie, and two children and four grandchildren
After he left for college, Deacon Robert Hoffman left the Catholic faith he was raised in. For 22 years he led a pagan lifestyle questioning God’s existence. “I was a normal person sinning on a regular basis with no conscience,” he said. During that time, unbeknownst to him, his mother and sister prayed for him to return to the Church. He returned to his faith in the 90s and began to attend St. Thomas More Church in Centennial in 1994. Then came the questions about the diaconate. “No, I would never make a good deacon,” was his response. Over time he felt God was calling him to give back those 22 years he spent away from the faith. “I wasn’t going to say ‘no’ anymore,” Deacon Hoffman said. Although he doesn’t believe he has the gifts his brother deacons do, he said he’s confident this is what God wants him to do. “I just have to trust in God and his graces to help me be the deacon he wants me to be. I don’t consider myself anything special at all. What will be special is what God uses me for.”

 

Deacon Mladen Martinovic
Age: 47
Hometown: Mostar, Bosnia
Parish: St. Louis Parish, Englewood
Family: Wife, Vesna, and five children
When his country was occupied by communists, the secret police tried to squash the faith of its citizens. As a young boy, Deacon Mladen Martinovic said he had a strong faith and felt the call to serve God. “I had to talk to everybody about God,” he said. But the government demanded citizens deny God in public, but he wouldn’t. From 1984-1991 he was taken from school and into police headquarters where he was subjected to long periods of persecution in a dark room. He eventually fled to Germany with his uncle, nearly escaping death. “I left my country that was calling was still there. It never stopped,” he said. He married his wife in Germany and they came to Denver in 1997. He began to learn English and the call to the diaconate returned. “I think God is always the one who planted it,” he said. With his wife’s witness and support, he was able to go through formation. He looks forward to serving the Croatian community at St. Louis Parish in Englewood.  “I can’t wait to start.”

 

Deacon Marc Nestorick
Family: Wife, Pattie, and three children.
Deacon Nestorick never imagined he would become a deacon. However, he says God used his prayer life to bring him to this service.
“Looking back on it now, I can say that it is through this journey in formation to become a deacon that God is working through me to help me better be the son he wants me to be. He is also using this as a way to help my family further their relationship with him,” Deacon Nestorick said.
Deacon Nestorick says he is looking forward to meeting new people and learning more about God while serving them.

 

Deacon Efrain Pruneda
Family: Wife, Lili, and three children
Deacon Pruneda was inspired to become a deacon by the preaching he heard at Queen of Peace Parish in Aurora. Then he learned that one of his sons was being challenged for his faith in school and had chosen to defend it.
“Then all of a sudden the Holy Spirit struck me to the core, and I thought, ‘What am I doing for the Lord??’ How am I getting out of my comfort zone for the one who gave his life for me??’ I realized that my gifts and skills as a person were not for my own benefit, they were for the Lord, they are for his glory,” Deacon Pruneda said.
Pruneda has already begun to pray for his future parishioners. “I pray for you wherever you are, I pray that the Lord will allow me to love you and care for you as much as I have dreamed,” he said.

 

Deacon Gregory Reynolds
Family: Wife, Melissa, and 24 nieces and nephews
Deacon Reynolds became an altar server in the fourth grade. He later discerned the priesthood, but realized he was called to married life. He prayed about the permanent diaconate for many years, until an exasperated friend asked him why he wasn’t a deacon yet. Deacon Reynolds said he is excited to see where the Holy Spirit guides the archbishop to place him. He also looks forward to serving at the Mass.
“I know it will be humbling to do what I am called to do in helping the Mass flow smoothly and bring Christ to the people through the proclamation of the Gospel and distribution of the Eucharist,” he said.

Deacon Stanley Rymes
Family: Wife, Ana, and three sons
Deacon John McKeown has been prodding Deacon Rymes toward the diaconate for years.
“When I finally announced to my wife, Ana, that I’m applying for the deacon formation program she replied, ‘It’s what I’ve been praying for!’” Rymes said.
Rymes said he is humbled by his call.
“At this time I’m feeling a sense of awe and wonder. I’m excited to discover how I can best serve my assigned parish and my archbishop,” Deacon Rymes said.

 

Deacon David Thompson
Family: Wife, Vicki, and three children
Deacon David Thompson says there isn’t one particular event that prodded him toward the diaconate. However, ever since he was initiated into the church, many ministers have suggested it to him.
Deacon Thompson and his wife got involved in Marriage Encounter about seven years ago.
“That was the start of me falling in love with faith and all it has to offer,” Deacon Thompson said.
Thompson said he thinks that the ministry will match his interests.
“I’m most looking forward to sharing the excitement of my faith with others,” he said. “I like to serve, so it just seems like the next step forward for me.”

 

Deacon Dennis Wallisch
Family: Wife, Beth, and three kids
Deacon Dennis Wallisch grew up in a strong Catholic home, which he believes helped foster his vocation.
“My parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and brothers and sister are or were good-practicing Catholics who give me or gave me great examples,” Wallisch said.
Wallisch’s youngest brother is now a priest. In addition, his wrestling coach went on to become a permanent deacon, as did the father of the best man in his wedding.
“All these people showed me what it means to serve others. The priests and deacons that I have known in my life have shown me how to lead a life oriented to God.”