Cardinal Cupich ordained 23 deacons on May 11. The group includes 16 permanent deacons who completed four years of formation. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons; single men who become permanent deacons must make a commitment to celibacy. Permanent deacons often work outside the church in addition to their diaconal ministry.
Seven transitional deacons are entering their final year of studies for the priesthood.
“I welcome and thank each one of our newly ordained deacons for answering the call to serve our church and our communities,” Cardinal Cupich said. “Diaconal ministry is central to our church’s teachings of reaching out to the poor and marginalized, ensuring that no one is excluded or left behind. In this Easter season, the Holy Spirit fills us with renewal and guides our new deacons to share boldly the Good News of Christ.”
The new deacons are:
Deacon Nic Andriacchi
Sacred Heart Parish, Palos Hills
Deacon Nic Andriacchi, 65, is a physician who lives in Palos Hills. He has two daughters: Angelina, 30, and Juliana, 28.
He said the highlight of his formation experience was traveling to the Holy Land with Father James McIlhone during his second and third years. He hopes to minister by assisting at the altar and in prayer services, preaching and teaching, and participating in medical mission projects.
Deacon Andrew J. Baker
St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Gurnee
Deacon Andrew Baker, 50, is an IT director. He and his wife, Katie, have four children: Kyle, 22; Adam, 20; Lexie, 16; and Brandon, 15.
He expressed gratitude for the support he received from his family and from fellow parishioners.
“Over the course of this four-year journey, I was humbled and energized by the heartfelt words of encouragement and prayers offered to me by many of our parishioners and my family, most often coming at an opportune time,” he said. “As this formation journey comes to an end and the ministry journey is just beginning, I can only hope to repay everyone a hundredfold.”
Deacon Michael Alan Bednarz
Immaculate Conception Parish (Talcott Avenue)
Deacon Michael Bednarz, 65, is an attorney and certified public accountant who lives in Chicago. He and his wife, Melissa, have three children: Anthony, 35; Robert, 33; and Laura, 31; and four grandchildren.
The formation process strengthened the couple’s marriage, Michael Bednarz said. It also led to lasting friendships with the diaconate classes from 2016 to 2019, he said. Bednarz said the experiences he had shadowing deacons and other ministers helped him prepare for his new role.
Following ordination, he plans to work in the areas of vocations, visiting the sick, working with the Holy Name men’s club and the Knights of Columbus and to help with media relations and communications for the parish.
Deacon Dan Coughlin
St. Joseph Parish, Libertyville
Deacon Dan Coughlin, 56, lives in Libertyville and works in financial services. He and his wife, JoAnne, have three children: Brian, 28; Sarah, 27; and Sean, 18.
His time in formation has helped him understand the church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, he said. The theological reflection groups that deacon candidates and their wives participate in have been a blessing as well, he said.
Following ordination, he plans to serve in catechesis and youth ministry.
Deacon Rajan Muthiah Fernando
St. Joseph Parish, Round Lake
Deacon Rajan Fernando, 58, is a chemist who lives in Round Lake Beach. He and his wife, Sheela, have three children: Anthony and Deepa, both 25, and Mary Rahan, 21.
Fernando said his vocation is “the best thing that happened in my life.” He said he was “somewhat ignorant” in his faith before entering diaconate formation, but that was an advantage. “Now, I can see how others may feel when encountering faith-related matters,” he said. “I can also see why they may have to change or improve their faith life, and what kind of joy and happiness it will bring to them if they choose to change. I believe this will open up a lot of venues for me to do my part in encouraging people to live their faith lives in fullness.”
Deacon Christopher Fisher
Transfiguration Parish, Wauconda
Deacon Christopher Fisher, 46, works in engineering and lives in Cary, Illinois. He and his wife, Joanna, have four children, two boys and two girls.
Fisher said his whole family benefited from the formation journey. “Each of us grew closer to God,” he said. “Embracing this journey with my spouse has also deepened the relationship we share.”
He plans to serve in RCIA and bereavement ministry.
Deacon William R. Flamm
St. Barnabas Parish
Deacon William Flamm, 63, is an accountant who lives in Chicago. He and his wife, Janice Roche, have four children: Emily, Joseph, Allison and Kevin.
Flamm said his internship was a highlight of his formation experience. He expressed gratitude to the priests and deacons of St. Barnabas and the archdiocese as a whole who shared their time, experience and wisdom.
Following ordination, he plans to provide pastoral care to people who are sick.
Deacon Daniel Georgen
St. Mary Parish, Buffalo Grove
Deacon Daniel Georgen, 54, and his wife, Laura, live in Kildeer. They have two children: Christopher, 26, and Michael, 23.
The biggest blessing of his formation experience was the inspiration and encouragement he received from members of his cohort, he said. He plans to continue working with engaged and married couples to foster strong and holy marriages.
Deacon Eugene Kummerer Jr.
St. Pascal Parish
Deacon Eugene Kummerer Jr., 58, lives in Chicago. Asked about his formation and ordination, he quoted the Magnificat from the Gospel of Luke: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.”
Deacon Irek Mocarski
St. Francis Borgia Parish
Deacon Irek Mocarski, 42, is a director of religious education. He and his wife, Cindy, live in Chicago.
He said he has grown spiritually throughout the formation process. He will continue to work both with children and with adults in the RCIA program as religious education director.
“I am passionate about the importance of the sacraments,” Mocarski said. “I hope to continue to be an instrument of God.”
Deacon Robert Powers
St. Christopher Parish, Midlothian
Deacon Robert Powers, 57, is a maintenance engineer who lives in Midlothian. He and his wife, Patricia, have four children: Jonathan, 32; Sarah, 23; Philip, 21; and Abigail, 18.
Powers said he appreciates the way he was able learn about the faith, develop his prayer life and form lasting friendships with his fellow deacon candidates, but the best part was the way he and his wife grew closer together.
He plans to concentrate on marriage and baptism preparation and adult catechism programs.
Deacon Roderick Reyes
Deacon Roderick Reyes, 49, is an accountant who lives in Gurnee. He and his wife, Rita, have two children: Patricia, 23, and Kaylee, 18.
Spending time with the truck stop ministry in Lake County took him out of his comfort zone, he said, because he had to approach and introduce himself to strangers.
“I had my share of rejection, but I also met people, mostly fathers, from other parts of the country who were away from their families,” he said.
Deacon Charles Shallcross
Deacon Charles Shallcross, 62, is a business analyst who lives in Chicago. He and his wife, Veronica, have three sons: Thomas, Paul and Andrew.
The highlight of his formation experience was the camaraderie of his fellow deacon candidates, he said. He plans to serve in the ministry of consolation and the ministry of care.
Deacon Jerry T. Souta
St. George Parish, Tinley Park
Deacon Jerry T. Souta, 68, is retired but works part-time for Catholic Charities as a mental health counselor. He and his wife, Mary, a special education teacher, live in Tinley Park.
He said he has been blessed by getting to know his fellow deacons and their families. A personal highlight was consecrating his life to Mary, he said.
He plans to lead eucharistic adoration and Benediction and continue his ministries of bringing Communion to the sick and homebound, helping with marriage and baptismal preparation and helping with parish evangelization efforts.
Deacon Guillermo Y. Tejeda
St. Bede the Venerable Parish
Deacon Guillermo Y. Tejeda, 51, is an elementary school teacher who lives in Chicago. He and his wife, Sylvia, have three children: Andres, 22; Christopher, 20; and Christian, 16.
“The highlight of my formation experience was developing a more intimate relationship with Christ, learning to assent to his will and allowing him to take me where he wanted,” Tejeda said.
He acknowledged the support of his wife, Sylvia, as a “calming force and voice of reason.”
He plans to continue working in youth ministry and ministry of care.
Deacon Mark M. Weiss
Prince of Peace Parish, Lake Villa
Deacon Mark M. Weiss, 65, is twice retired, the first time after 20 years in the Army and the second after 19 years as a high school teacher. He and his wife, Joan, live in Lake Villa, and they have two married daughters and four granddaughters.
He said the people he has spent time with have been the highlight of his formation experience, from his wife and fellow candidates and families to instructors to the staff at Prince of Peace Parish.
“The support that I have received, the knowledge that they have shared and their patience with me during the process will shape my ministry in the future,” he said.
He plans to minister in adult faith formation.
The new transitional deacons and their summer parish assignments are:
Deacon Larry Basbas, Prince of Peace Parish, Lake Villa
Deacon Arthur Bautista, St. Josaphat Parish, Chicago
Deacon Ismael Garcia, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Des Plaines
Deacon Patrick Gorman, Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish, Park Ridge
Deacon Vinny Jimenez, Santa Maria del Populo Parish, Mundelein
Deacon Hank Lyon, St. Juliana Parish, Chicago
Deacon Martin Marulanda, St. Damian Parish, Oak Forest
For the past 10 years, Deacon Freddie Palacios and his wife, Zoila, have been putting smiles on the faces of poor children living in their native Guatemala by delivering wrapped toys for Christmas.
Cardinal George ordained seven men as permanent deacons on May 18, at Holy Name Cathedral. Another deacon was ordained on May 10 and another nine men were ordained May 25.
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