‘Icons of Christ the Servant’: Fourteen men answer the call to serve as permanent deacons

Denver Catholic Staff

On June 22, Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez ordained 14 men to the permanent diaconate. “To serve is the highest honor in the Church,” Bishop Rodriguez told the men during his homily, and iterated that “deacons are icons of Christ the Servant” in the liturgy. Get to know each of the men and how they received their calls to the diaconate.

Daniel Cook, St. Mary (Breckenridge) and Our Lady of Peace (Silverthorne)

Deacon Cook heard his calling to the diaconate as he prayed with his wife in front of the San Damiano Cross during a pilgrimage to Assisi, Italy. St. Francis of Assisi has played an important role in his walk of faith: “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I received my calling in his hometown,” he said. As deacon, one of his greatest joys is “assisting the priest at the altar and distributing communion to the people.”

A.J. Misiti, Spirit of Christ (Arvada)

In his childhood, Deacon Misiti developed a great love for the Liturgy and the Eucharist as an altar server, and he considers this the beginning of his call to the diaconate. After moving with his family to Denver in 2011, that call became persistent. He thanks his wife, Liz, for being the most important person in this journey, and is “thrilled to get to serve our priests during the celebration of the Eucharist nearly every day.”

Chris Tranchetti, Our Lady of Loreto (Foxfield)

Deacon Tranchetti’s calling came “gradually.” Having served as a husband, father and U.S. Navy officer, he sees that “being ordained a deacon is not simply another manifestation along the continuum of my call to serve, but rather the capstone for a lifetime of service.” As a deacon, he hopes “to help and serve those in the universal church impacting not only human lives, but eternal souls”, and is excited to bring the hope of Christ to all he might encounter.

Pedro Reyes, St. William (Ft. Lupton)

Deacon Reyes had no idea God would call him so clearly to the diaconate during a retreat. While he was praying with his eyes closed, God allowed him to see himself vested as a Deacon at Mass. This led him to serve more as an altar server and eventually to the diaconate. “What brings the most joy and excitement… is that I will be able to show my love to and for God through all those I will be serving,” he said.

Huan Nguyen, Nativity of Our Lord (Broomfield)

Deacon Nguyen converted from Buddhism, after 18 years of marriage with his wife, Vana, who was Catholic. “My conversion began with several personal encounters with the Lord Jesus in the adoration chapel,” he said. After years of service to the Church with his wife, the call to the diaconate intensified. “It brings me joy to see the love of God as I encounter the people who are sick, dying, poor, homeless and less fortunate in our society [as a deacon],” he said.

Thinh Le, Our Lady of Fatima (Lakewood)

When a priest approached him to ask him if he had considered becoming a permanent deacon, Deacon Le didn’t know what that meant, “because there weren’t any in Vietnam,” he said. But after doing research, he felt God calling him. He took a break after his second year of formation to discern this calling further but returned four years later to finish it. “There is nothing more happy and joyful than when I know I’m not worthy of this vocation,” he said.

John Ferraro, St. Gianna Molla (Denver)

Deacon Ferraro first thought about the diaconate as a campus minister at Regis Jesuit High School but decided it was not the right time. Years later, he decided to take the step and see if God confirmed his calling. “God blessed me with graces that made it clear he had called me to this vocation,” he said. “What brings me joy about serving the Church as a deacon is being a conduit of Christ’s presence for the people I will serve.”

David Simonton, St. Thomas More (Centennial)

Six years ago, at the age of 53, Deacon Simonton heard the call to the permanent diaconate while in the adoration chapel at St. Thomas More. “Jesus was telling me, ‘Go, run, don’t walk … submit your request to enter the diaconate … NOW!’” he recalled. As a deacon – and a father of seven – he’s most excited about help people begin their journey of faith through baptism. “It doesn’t get any better than that, my friends,” he said.

Tom Piccone, Risen Christ (Denver)

Born and raised in Denver, Deacon Piccone has been a parishioner at St. Thomas More for the last 30 years. Over the course of many years helping with prison and youth ministry, he found purpose and joy in leading others to an encounter with Christ. While the patron of his home parish is important to him, “no patron is so important as our Blessed Mother,” he said. “We’re always seeking her help in following and growing closer to her son.”

Joseph Vu, All Saints (Denver)

Deacon Vu escaped from Vietnam in 1975 when communists took over Saigon City and came to the U.S. as a refugee. After discerning out of seminary and getting married, he eventually responded to the “fire-voice” that “burned in my heart” to serve God’s people. In addition to Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, Deacon Vu attributes his vocation to Our Lady of LaVang. “I am humbled and give thanks to God for having called me to serve him daily,” he said.

Richard Hamilton, Our Lady of the Pines (Conifer)

Deacon Hamilton was called to the Church at 21 years old after a difficult time in his life. Happily married with three children, he said that he has “witnessed the Risen Christ” in the restoration of his marriage. After a 31-year career as an elementary school teacher, he now coordinates children’s ministries at St. Mary Parish in Littleton. As a deacon, his desire “is to help people, especially those who are suffering, to have a true meeting with Jesus Christ in their lives.”

Tim McCann, Guardian Angels (Mead)

After three separate invitations to consider the permanent diaconate within a two-week span, Deacon McCann decided to discern whether God was calling him to it. Turns out, he was. As a deacon, he is challenged to do ordinary things extraordinary well. “I can serve ordinarily, and the work may be done, but if I serve in love of God maybe that same service can be something more,” he said.

John Doubrava, Our Lady of the Plains (Byers)

On the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Deacon Doubrava had a charismatic encounter with the Holy Spirit that planted the seed of his vocation. “After the encounter, I was left with a question: ’Now that I KNOW he is, now what?’” he said. Through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, it became clear that the permanent diaconate was what was next. He looks forward to joyfully serving others in Word, Liturgy and Charity.

Scott Ditch, Sts. Peter and Paul (Wheatridge)

After an invitation from the pastor at Spirit of Christ Parish, Deacon Ditch decided to look into the permanent diaconate and see what it was all about. Now, as a deacon, he’s grown to understand his prayer life better with the help of St. Teresa of Avila, and he looks forward to serving the people of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Wheatridge – all while retaining his job as Director of Information Technology at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Foxfield.

Featured image by Brandon Young

COMING UP: St. Scholastica parish in Erie has served community for well over 100 years

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For more than a century, St. Scholastica Catholic Church has served the faithful in the northern community of Erie, Colo. Over time there have been many changes to the structure of the parish, but it still stands on the same foundation that Benedictine pastor Father Cornelius Enders set in place in 1899.

Vibrant, spiritually alive, and welcoming is how St. Scholastica can be described. For years, the church formed part of a circuit assigned to one priest of different parishes and missions, but four years ago, Father Robert Wedow was assigned to St. Scholastica as its first full-time pastor in history.

Since day one, Father Wedow knew there was a lot of work to do for the growing community: “To do what Jesus told us. To go to the ends of earth and baptize all the nation,” said Father Wedow to the Denver Catholic about his mission.

In order to accomplish that mission, he and the pastoral council came up with a parish plan that consists of three goals for the church.

“One of the goals is what we call our spiritual needs, to understand and begin to use our resources to meet the spiritual needs of the people of Erie. The second one is the evangelization of ourselves and others. And the third one is the development of our parish so that we will put ourselves to be able to have a brand-new parish,” he said.

The altar at St. Scholastica was recently renovated and blessed by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. The Erie parish has served the community for over 120 years. (Photos by Brandon Young)

When he first became the pastor of St. Scholastica, Father Wedow noticed things in the church that required maintenance and renovations in order to keep serving the community in Erie. Among those renovations were the floors, the carpet and the altar of the church that was starting to break apart. On Oct. 13, after months of hard work and dedication, parishioners and friends attended a special ceremony in which Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila dedicated the new altar at St. Scholastica, one of the biggest renovations.

For a parish of approximately 200 families, St. Scholastica offers a wide range of ministries to meet the needs of the whole family. From youth groups, bible study and the Knights of Columbus, the community stays involved and keeps growing bigger and stronger.

To serve the community and continue evangelizing, the church holds a variety of fun events throughout the year where parishioners have the opportunity to help others while having a good time. Among these events is St. Scholastica’s Annual “Cookies and Caroling,” where the community gathers to make delicious cookies, then goes door to door and hands them out to the neighbors while caroling and wishing them a Merry Christmas.

“I personally think what’s unique about my parish is the powerful love of the volunteers and the way in which they show their love for God and for their neighbor,” Father Wedow said.

Although there is still much work to be done in the 120-year-old parish, Father Robert continues to work hard and does everything in his hands to meet the needs of his growing community.

“It’s a great privilege for me to be able to serve the people of Erie and to be a part of this growing community. May the joy of seeing the face of God overwhelm us all, as we celebrate the true gift of Christmas at Christmas night mass,” concluded Father Wedow.