24 accepted as candidates for new class of permanent deacons

Photo Caption: The candidates for the tenth class of permanent deacons are pictured with Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, Msgr. Tim Nolan, and Deacon Bob Sondag following Sunday’s Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria.

By: By Tom Dermody

Twenty-four men were accepted as candidates for the tenth class of permanent deacons for the Diocese of Peoria during a Mass celebrated Aug. 17 by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria.

The candidates, representing 23 parishes, have already completed two years of discernment and evaluation in the application process. They now begin three years of formation toward an anticipated ordination in May of 2017.

“The church accepts your resolve with joy,” said Bishop Jenky after Msgr. Timothy Nolan, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate, had introduced the aspirants during a five-minute ceremony that followed the bishop’s homily.

Dressed in suits and ties, the aspirants had entered the cathedral in the opening procession and sat with their families at the end of center aisle pews. As they were introduced, they stood and answered “present.” When all had been recommended for candidacy by Msgr. Nolan, they responded “I do” as the bishop asked if they resolve to complete their preparation for ordination to the diaconate and ministry within the church.

“May God, who has begun a good work in you, bring it to fulfillment,” said Bishop Jenky. He then led the assembly in applause to show gratitude to God and for “the generous spirit of these men.”

The list of candidates follows, along with the names of their wives and parish membership:

Robb Caputo (Mary Jean), Sts. Peter and Paul, Leonore
Robert DePauw (Pamela), St. John the Baptist, Rapid City
Hector Diaz (Maria), Holy Cross, Mendota
Michael Driscoll (Mary), St. Patrick, Ottawa
Michael Evers (Patricia), St. Theresa, Earlville
Michael Harris (Brenda), Blessed Sacrament, Morton
Mark Jackson (Karen), Christ the King, Moline
Joseph Knapp (Jodi), Holy Trinity, Bloomington
John Kusek (Susan), Nativity of Our Lord, Spring Valley
Faustino Lopez (Josefa), St. Mary, Champaign
Guadalupe Lopez (Ramona), St. Malachy, Rantoul
Wendell Lowry III (Brenda), Holy Family, Lincoln
Albert Lundy (Sharon), Holy Trinity, Bloomington
Edmund Mallow Jr. (Catherine), St. Thomas the Apostle, Peoria Heights
Thomas Mann (Linda), Immaculate Conception, Monmouth
Joseph McCleary, Immaculate Conception, Monmouth
Daniel Moffitt (Deborah), Sts. Peter and Paul, Nauvoo
Anthony Nickrent (Michele), Our Lady of the Lake, Mahomet
Daniel O’Connor (Verene), St. Joseph, Peru
Marshall Plumley (Valerie), St. Anthony, Atkinson
Mark Scamp (Margo), St. Joseph, Pekin
Michael Sigwalt (Barbara), St. Malachy, Geneseo
Ronald Wackerlin, St. Joseph, Marseilles
Todd Weber (Kim), St. Patrick, Wapella

The deacon candidates range in age from 38 to 60. While two are retired, the others are active in careers that include farming, banking, sales, education, engineering, and others.

Most are already very active in their parishes. For example, Dan O’Connor is a trustee at St. Joseph in Peru, and also serves on the finance committee, cemetery board, and is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. He told The Catholic Post after last Sunday’s Mass that he was encouraged to consider the permanent diaconate by friends from Cursillo, including Deacon Dennis Gillan, who was ordained in 2007.

O’Connor and his wife, Verene, have three sons including one who is a Dominican priest, Father Michael (Kevin) O’Connor, OP.

“We have met such wonderful people in this class,” said Verene O’Connor. “We get along so well.” The wives accompany their husbands to monthly formation gatherings in Peoria.

Edmund Mallow Jr. remembers attending a Scout Mass at the cathedral with his wife, Cathy, when he saw deacons process in with Bishop Jenky. “I felt called,” he said, “and we started talking about it.”

Asked what ministries he would like to be involved in following ordination, Mallow said “wherever I’m needed, that’s where I plan to be.”

Deacons are one of three orders of ordained ministers, the others being priests and bishops. Those who are studying for the priesthood are known as transitional deacons prior to their ordination as priests.

The Second Vatican Council cleared the way for the diaconate to be restored as a permanent order of ministry, with an emphasis of living a life of service in imitation of Jesus. They may assist the priest in preaching, the conferral of baptism, performance of marriage, the administration of parishes, and other ministries as necessary.

Concelebrants of the Mass included Msgr. Doug Hennessy and Father Michael Andrejek. Assisting as deacons were Deacon Nick Simon and Deacon Bob Sondag, who led prayers for the new class during the general intercessions. He also prayed for the repose of the soul of Deacon Joseph Koeppel of St. Ann Parish in Peoria who died the previous day at the age of 78. (See obituary here.)

About 20 more of the diocese’s 127 permanent deacons were also present for the Sunday morning liturgy.

“For some reason, I feel like a proud daddy in the delivery room,” said Msgr. Nolan in inviting the assembly to a reception for the newly admitted candidates following the Mass. He congratulated the candidates’ wives for their support throughout the process, and thanked Bishop Jenky for his support of the permanent diaconate. Msgr. Nolan also expressed appreciation for the “magnificent leadership” of Sister Diane VandeVoorde, OSF, associate director of the permanent diaconate office, and the formation team.

The last class of permanent deacons for the Diocese of Peoria, 30 in all, was ordained on May 19, 2012.

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