Nine permanent deacons in diocese are marking 25th anniversary of ordination

Five of the permanent deacons who are celebrating their 25th anniversary of ordination this year were present at the Deacon Convocation on March 5. They are (group photo from left) Deacon Russ Swim, Deacon Joe LaHood, Deacon Ernie Whited, Deacon Bob Pomazal and Deacon Roger Hunter. Unavailable when the group photo was taken are (top to bottom) Deacon Brendan Carolan, Deacon Dennis DeVooght, Deacon Lawrence Honzel and Deacon Nicholas Simon. (Group photo by The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of Jubilarians 2022, a 20-page section of The Catholic Post dated May 22, 2022, and honoring the priests, religious, and permanent deacons marking milestone years of ministry.

The Diocese of Peoria’s sixth class of permanent deacons gave 17 new ministers of the word, sacrament and charity to the faithful in central Illinois. Nine of the men ordained by Bishop John J. Myers on May 17, 1997, are celebrating their 25th anniversary of ordination in 2022.

The silver jubilarians are:

  • Deacon Brendan Carolan of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington, who was granted senior status in 2013;
  • Deacon Dennis DeVooght, who was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Moline and now serves the St. Kenneth Catholic Community in Plymouth, Michigan;
  • Deacon Lawrence Honzel of St. Malachy Parish in Geneseo;
  • Deacon Roger Hunter of St. Jude Parish in Peoria and assistant spiritual director for Peoria Cursillo;
  • Deacon Joseph LaHood of Holy Family Parish in Peoria, and prison ministry;
  • Deacon Robert Pomazal of St. Edward Parish in Chillicothe and vice chancellor of the Diocese of Peoria;
  • Deacon Nicholas Simon of St. Anthony Parish in Atkinson, Sacred Heart Parish in Annawan, and Our Lady of the Fields in Hooppole;
  • Deacon Russ Swim of St. Pius X Parish in Rock Island and chaplain at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island; and
  • Deacon Ernie Whited of St. Joseph Parish in Pekin.

Seven members of the class are deceased. They are Deacon Francis Eaton, Deacon James Haneghan, Deacon William Kelley Sr., Deacon Philip Sailer, Deacon Richard Scanlan, Deacon John Skender and Deacon Marvin Smith.

Another is not in ministry at this time.

This spring, The Catholic Post invited the deacon jubilarians to provide information about their ministry and plans for a celebration. Following are brief biographies based on their responses.


Deacon Carolan

Spouse: Ann, married 65 years

Children/grandchildren: Three daughters, one son, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Ministries (past and present): In addition to parish ministry for 15 years, he served as assistant spiritual director for Cursillo from 1997 to 2008.

Memorable moments: Baptisms of three grandchildren, and serving at the altar for seven Masses during a tour of the Holy Land with Msgr. Tim Nolan in January 1998.

Comments: “Looking back some 54 years I never realized what God had planned for my life when Ann and I, with our family of four youngsters, left home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to live in Monroe, Louisiana, for four years before moving again with State Farm to the Diocese of Peoria and diaconal ordination in 1997.”

Celebration plans: There is nothing planned at this time.

Mail for Deacon Carolan may be sent to 2025 E. Lincoln St., Apt. 2215, Bloomington, IL 61701-5995.


Deacon DeVooght

Spouse: Raedene, married 56 years

Children/grandchildren: A daughter, Michelle, who is deceased, and two sons, Brent and Jason, and 10 grandchildren.

Ministries (past and present): Deacon DeVooght served Sacred Heart in Moline until 2014, when he and Raedene moved to Michigan to be closer to family. He has been involved in Cursillo, Teens Encounter Christ, marriage preparation, baptism preparation, a men’s spirituality group, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and a senior group.

Memorable moments: Baptizing his grandchildren and officiating at weddings, especially those of his children’s friends. Another highlight was taking part in the Beatification Mass for Blessed Solanus Casey on Nov. 18, 2017, by distributing Communion.

Comments: “I have been very blessed as a deacon, beginning with the wonderful group of men that I was ordained with. It has been a humbling experience. I have been presented with many opportunities that have challenged me to become a better Christian in all aspects of my life. I am grateful for the great pastors I have served with. God is so generous with his grace.”

Celebration plans: Mass and a family dinner.

Mail for Deacon DeVooght may be sent to 1421 Covington Crossing, Commerce Township, MI 48390.


Deacon Larry Honzel

Spouse: Audrey, married 60 years in June

Children/grandchildren: Five children and 12 grandchildren

Ministries (past and present): RCIA, Cursillo, pastoral care, parish renewal.

Memorable moments: Baptisms, especially baptizing most of his grandchildren, and meeting new people through the RCIA.

Comments: “Becoming a deacon was not expected. God is so good where has taken me.”

Celebration plans: Class VI will get together this month.

Mail for Deacon Honzel may be sent to 335 N. Chicago St., Geneseo, IL 61254


Spouse: Linda, married 53 years

Children/grandchildren: A daughter, Jennifer, and son, Roger Jr.; three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Ministries (past and present): RCIA, Cursillo, TEC, pontifical deacon at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Diocese of Peoria’s Catholic Committee on Scouting, chaplain of Boy Scout Troop 40, taking Communion to the homebound, notary-auditor for the diocesan Marriage Tribunal for 20 years, Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus.

Memorable moments: Baptisms, especially of a friend’s granddaughter, and a friend’s baby. He would preside at the mother’s burial service six months later. Other special moments include assisting at Masses in Rome and Assisi, Italy, and Ars, France, as well as holy places in Israel and ordination Masses.

Comments: “God will spend or use any resources to get you to where he wants you to be. Linda and I were going to talk to Msgr. (Charles) Beebe the whole third year of our formation to say (the diaconate) just didn’t seem right for me, but that conversation never took place. Going down that aisle on that Saturday at the cathedral it was too late. However, as I lay prostrate on that cold marble floor, a peace came over me like I’ve never felt before. And here I am. It’s never been a day of work. I’m at peace in my heart.”

Celebration plans: Dinner with family and friends, and the Class VI gathering this month.

Mail for Deacon Hunter may be sent to 11917 Devinwood Drive, Dunlap, IL 61525.


Deacon LaHood

Spouse: Terri, married 49 years

Children/grandchildren: Two sons, Anthony John and Andrew Michael, and one grandson.

Ministries (past and present): Prison ministry, Special People Encounter Christ, pontifical deacon.

Memorable moments: Prison ministry and baptisms, especially baptizing his grandson, Aaron Joseph.

Celebration plans: Deacon LaHood will celebrate with his family.

Mail for Deacon LaHood may be sent to 132 Fawn Haven Drive, East Peoria, IL 61611.


Deacon Pomazal

Spouse: Sandy, married for 53 years

Children/grandchildren: Four children and six grandchildren

Ministries (past and present): Present and coordinate Scripture study programs, assist at Mass and give homilies, officiate at Communion services, marriage preparation, prepare altar servers, and participate in various capacities with the Charismatic Renewal. As vice chancellor, he is responsible for marriage dispensations, etc.

Memorable moments: Baptizing his grandchildren, receiving the Pere Marquette Award for service to the Diocese of Peoria in 2004, and making new friendships among the priests, deacons, and staff of the Diocese of Peoria.

Comments: “Twenty-five years go by very fast.”

Celebration plans: A reunion with Class VI was planned for May 17.

Mail for Deacon Pomazal may be sent to 4322 E. Terrace Drive, Chillicothe, IL 61523.


Deacon Simon

Spouse: Norma, married 55 years

Children/grandchildren: Two children, Nancy and Neil, who is deceased. He has seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild, with another on the way

Ministries (past and present): In addition to his parish work, Deacon Simon served as diocesan coordinator of ordained deacons for 18 years and a pontifical deacon at St. Mary’s Cathedral for 19 years.

Memorable moments: Sitting between Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, apostolic nuncio to the United States, at Bishop Jenky’s Installation Mass, and “all the great times Norma and I had helping and cooking at deacon formation weekends for Classes VII, VIII and IX.”

Comments: “Thank you to all those who mentored our Class VI during our formation, our families for their tremendous support these last 25 years, and the great parishioners we serve.”

Celebration plans: He planned to attend the Class VI reunion.

Mail for Deacon Simon may be sent to 301 N. School St., P.O. Box 110, Atkinson, IL 61235-0110.


Deacon Swim

Spouse: Pam, married 51 years

Children/grandchildren: “Four children and eight grandchildren with us and one with God.”

Ministries (past and present): Diocesan Special Needs Ministry. Assigned to St. Mary Parish, Moline, from 1997 to 2018, and served as administrator and spiritual director of the religious formation program. Named chaplain at UnityPoint Health-Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island, in 2015. Assigned to St. Pius X Parish, Rock Island, in 2018. Deacon Russ and Pam Swim received the Pere Marquette Award for service to the Diocese of Peoria in 1998.

Memorable moments: The day he was ordained, witnessing the marriages of his children, and administering the sacraments of baptism and First Communion, and being the deacon of the Mass for the confirmation of his grandchildren are some of the highlights of Deacon Swim’s ministry over the last 25 years. In addition, he cited being the deacon at a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Raymond Burke at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Other joyful moments were seeing the children he served in the CCD program at St. Mary Parish grow into adults and having “the great blessing” of being able to witness some of their marriages and baptize some of their children.

Comments: “On the day of my ordination I thought I knew how I would serve as a deacon, but the Holy Spirit had other ideas for me.  Over the past 25 years I have been challenged to serve in ways that I felt I was not prepared to serve. Through it all the Holy Spirit has blessed me with the courage to walk into new ministries and prepared me in ways that I never imagined. It has been a great blessing to have served the people of St. Mary’s, Moline, for 21 years, to now be able to serve the people of St. Pius X, Rock Island, and the staff and patients as a chaplain at UnityPoint-Trinity Medical Center, Rock Island.  I have learned to trust the Holy Spirit to lead me and look forward to where he will lead me in the future.”

Celebration plans: He will celebrate with his family.

Mail for Deacon Swim may be sent to 2709 35th St., Rock Island, IL 61201.


Deacon Whited

Spouse: Sandy, married 55 years on June 24, 2022

Children/grandchildren: Three married daughters and six grandchildren.

Ministries (past and present): WATCH (We Are The Church), Prison Cursillo, served weekly Mass at the Pekin Federal Correctional Institution, notary-auditor for the diocesan Marriage Tribunal, pontifical deacon.

Memorable moments: Christmas morning Mass at the Pekin prison with Deacon Chuck Murray for more than 20 years. Witnessed the marriage of one daughter and baptized five of his six grandchildren.

Celebration plans: There is nothing planned at this time.

Mail for Deacon Whited may be sent to 815 Caroline St., Pekin, IL 61554.

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