18 new deacons ordained for archdiocese

By Chicago Catholic
Sunday, June 11, 2017

Seventeen deacon candidates stand before Cardinal Cupich during their ordination Mass on May 13 at Holy Name Cathedral. This year, the ordination included both candidates for the transitional diaconate, a step in becoming a priest, as well as both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking candidates for the permanent diaconate. Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic


 A total of 17 new deacons were ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 13, and one more was ordained in Mexico June 1. Ten are permanent deacons who will live out their ministry of service in their parishes. The others are transitional deacons who are expected to go on to be ordained as priests next year.

Seven men who completed formation for the permanent diaconate in Spanish were ordained. They are:

Salvador Medina, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Des Plaines

Deacon Salvador Medina, 41, and his wife. Marta, have two children: Aylin, 15, and Daniel, 11. He lives in Evanston and works as a maintenance supervisor.

He hopes to continue doing baptismal preparation and baptisms, as well as working with evangelization of parents of children in the religious education program and in the ministering to the sick.

“I hope, with the help of God, to devoutly serve the church, proclaiming the Gospel not only with words but with concrete acts,” he said. “I entrust myself to the prayers of the community, to the blessing of God and to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Victor M. Moreno Garcia, St. John Bosco, 2250 N. McVicker Ave.

Deacon Victor Moreno Garcia, 44, and his wife, Clara Zuluaga, reside in Chicago. He works in shipping and receiving.

“Formation for me has been like an illumination where reason and faith have united, resulting in meekness and humility,” he said. “I will focus on evangelization through the preaching and practice of charity more than anything, bringing mercy to the ‘invisible people’ in the community.”

Deacon Jaime Rojas, St. Nicholas, Evanston

Deacon Jaime Rojas, 49, and his wife, Leonor Delgado de Rojas, have four children: Jaime Rojas Jr., 28; Emily Zelaya, 23; Pedro  Jose Rojas, 13; and Miguel Angel Rojas, 10. They also have an infant grandson, Ademar. He lives in Evanston and provides direct support to people with disabilities.

Deacon Rojas said he wants to highlight the sacrifices his family made while he was in formation, and to thank his wife for accompanying him on the journey.

“My hope for my parish would be to create more leadership roles and instill in many hearts the desire to discern their calling as I did with mine,” Rojas said. “Promoting the fundamental Catholic teachings of helping the needy, the poor, our neighbors. I hope to work alongside our parish priest and assist in all that I can.”

Jorge Salinas, St. Stanislaus Kostka, 1351 W. Evergreen Ave.

Deacon Jorge Salinas, 47, and his wife, Arminda, have a daughter, Maria del Carmen Salinas, 26, and a grandson, Josearmando, who is a year old. Deacon Salinas is a painter who lives in Crest Hill, Illinois.

Deacon Salinas said he looks forward to his ministry as a servant of God and the community.

“I am willing to serve wherever there is need. My pastor told me he sees me working in the ministry of the liturgy and administering the sacrament of baptism, in English and Spanish,” he said.

Hector Soto, Mission San Juan Diego, Arlington Heights

Deacon Hector Soto, 49, and his wife, Marisela, have three children, ages 21, 18 and 16. He lives in Wheeling and works as an assembler.

He said diaconate formation was “a very rich experience, which has given us the opportunity to grow in the human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral areas, to serve better, in charity, our brothers and sisters.”

He plans to focus on the areas of family catechesis and liturgy.

Raúl Trejo, St. Colette, Rolling Meadows

Deacon Raúl Trejo, 54, and his wife, Argelia, have a son, Gabriel, 25, and three daughters: Ari, 23;

 Maria Guadalupe, 20; and Andrea, 13. He lives in Rolling Meadows.

Deacon Trejo said diaconate formation taught him how to be not just a good deacon, but also a good man.

“I feel extremely happy to be able to serve others. Having been created in the image and likeness of God, like Jesus, just as he came to serve and not to be served, so I have prepared myself to fulfill the mission,” he said.

Rodolfo Urquiza, St. Hedwig, 2226 N. Hoyne Ave.

Deacon Rodolfo Urquiza, 56, and his wife, Berta, have two children: Sergio, 31, and Nayeli, 30. He is a machine operator and lives in Chicago.

Visiting hospitals during his formation made a great impression on Urquiza.

“What struck me most was the experience in the hospital, seeing the patients moaning in pain, listening to their complaints because no one visited them, this have broken my heart,” he said. “They taught us to serve as Jesus serves, to see our brothers and sisters with the same eyes that Jesus looks at them, to serve with humility, to say ‘yes’ when it is yes, and ‘no’ when it is not.”


Three permanent deacons who completed their formation in English are:

Robert Birck, St. Paul the Apostle, Gurnee

Deacon Robert Birck, 60, and his wife, Yuki, have four children: Kristina, 33; Christopher, 25; Jeremy, 24; and Patrick, 22.

Deacon Birck, a retired finance director, said the “service to the liturgy” internship the deacon candidates completed was especially helpful.

“Although it demanded a lot of work and writing, it forced me out of my comfort zone many times to experience diaconal responsibilities firsthand,” he said. “It also led me to meet and learn from a variety of great deacons across multiple parishes, including my own. I was glad when I completed it, but it left me with a sense of both accomplishment and excitement about what’s ahead for me in diaconal ministry.”

Birck plans to continue serving in youth ministry, catechesis and sacramental preparation.

Raul Duque, St. Albert the Great, Burbank

Deacon Raul Duque, 51, is the music director at St. Fabian Parish, Bridgeview. He and his wife, Elizabeth, are the parents of John Paul Duque, who is deceased.

He said the highlight of his formation experience were the retreats and days of reflection led by Franciscan Father Bernard Kennedy and the couple retreat led by deacons and their wives.

He hopes to work in bereavement ministry as well as in baptismal and marriage preparation, he said.

Deacon Duque said he encourages other men who think they might be called to the diaconate to explore the idea.

“If you feel God nudging you, you owe it to yourself to pray and discern over it,” he said.

Thomas Gaida, National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe at Marytown, Libertyville

Deacon Thomas Gaida, 59, said the relationships he has developed with people he met in diaconate formation —classmates, teachers and others — “have been and will continue to be an enormous blessing.”

Gaida said the “service to the liturgy” internship “gave me very concrete and practical experience in the wide range of ministries that deacons are involved with. I found it invaluable.”

In addition to his liturgical duties, Deacon Gaida plans to teach a quarterly Mariology class and expand his participation in prison ministry.


The transitional deacons will minister at their assigned parishes this summer and assist in weekends throughout the next year. They are:

Robert Carlton, 34

Deacon Robert Carlton, who grew up in Evanston, will minister as a deacon at St. Agatha Parish, 3147 W. Douglas Blvd.

After ordination, he hopes to continue working in secondary education, a career he started before entering seminary.

He said the part of formation he has enjoyed most was the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and clinical pastoral education at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Agustin Garza, 41

Deacon Agustin Garza, 41, was born in Monterrey, Mexico, and will serve as a deacon at St. Gall Parish, 5500 S. Kedzie Ave.

The highlight of his formation experience was the seminary pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

“It helped me to read the Sacred Scripture in a different way," he said.

Robinson Ortiz, 26

Deacon Robinson Ortiz, who was born in Bogata, Colombia, has been assigned to St. Juliana Parish, 7400 W. Touhy Ave., for his diaconate ministry.

The highlight of his formation experience was being able to meet and study with seminarians from all over the country and the world, he said.

"The cultural and religious richness that we can find when we meet a new person is something that stays with you your whole life as a minister," he said.

Charlie Plovanich, 24

Deacon Charlie Plovanich grew up in Queen of Angels Parish in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood and will minister as a deacon at St. Bede the Venerable Parish, 8200 S. Kostner Ave.

He is unsure of his plans following ordination — "I trust the Lord’s plans without knowing fully what they are," he said — and the highlight of his formation so far has been "coming to know the Lord’s love for me, learning to receive it in my heart, and learning to give away that love to others."

Lukasz Pyka, 33

Deacon Lukasz Pyka was born in Radzionków, Poland, and will minister as a deacon at St. Stephen Bishop and Martyr, Tinley Park.

He plans to focus on youth ministry and preaching.

The formation experience has been "long but very fruitful," he said.

Jesus Romero Galan, 32

Deacon Jesus Romero Galan was ordained June 1 by Bishop John Manz in the Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, his hometown.

He will serve as a deacon at Assumption BVM Parish, 2434 S. California Ave., and in the archdiocese’s Kolbe House jail ministry.

The highlight of his formation has been the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world, including to the Holy Land and several countries in Asia.

"Having the opportunity to travel to different parts of the world … has enriched my perception of the universality of the church," he said. "Having worked with people from different cultures, backgrounds, and religions such as Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and different Christian evangelical and Protestant communities has opened my mind to see in every individual a human being rather than a person from a specific religion, nationality, skin color, language, background and culture. My formation toward the ministerial priesthood has led me to an encounter with God, which at the same time, helped me to overcome barriers that nowadays the world impose upon our daily lives, freeing me to go at the encounter of my neighbor without making any exception."

Christian Kevin Shiu, 28

Deacon Christian Shiu grew up in St. Therese Chinese Catholic Mission, 218 W. Alexander St., in Chicago’s Chinatown and will minister as a deacon at Most Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan.

His favorite part of his formation experience so far was his parish internship.

"This 15-week program gives seminarians the wonderful opportunity to live at a parish and engage in full-time ministry," he said. "Moreover, seminarians are able to witness firsthand what life as a parish priest is like. I had the tremendous blessing of interning at Prince of Peace Parish in Lake Villa. It was an amazing experience, and I am so grateful to the priests, pastoral staff and the people of God for forming me."

Jesus Emanuel Torres-Fuentes, 38

Deacon Jesus Emmanuel Torres-Fuentes is from Jalapa in Veracruz, Mexico, and he will minister as a deacon at St. Bartholomew Parish, 4949 W. Patterson Ave.

He said the highlight of his formation experience has been "the four pillars: human formation that has helped me be a better man; spiritual formation that has helped me have a better deeper relationship with God; intellectual formation that has helped me understand the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and pastoral formation that has trained me to serve the people of God in a spiritual way."


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  • deacons

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