Called to Serve - Thirteen Men to be Ordained to the Permanent Diaconate*
Braintree, MA (September 18, 2014) -- Cardinal Seán O’Malley will ordain thirteen men to the Order of Deacon at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. The CatholicTV Network will provide live coverage and commentary for the Ordination at 10:00 a.m. ET, rebroadcasting at 8 p.m. the same day. CatholicTV can be viewed locally on Comcast-268, Verizon FiOS-296, RCN-85 and also in HD at CatholicTVLIVE.com. To learn more about the programming schedule on CatholicTV please visit www.CatholicTV.com
Cardinal Seán said, “Through the grace of God, these thirteen men of faith have been called to serve the Church as deacons. Each brings his unique gifts to their ministry and we welcome them as brothers in Christ. We are grateful to their loved ones, especially their wives and families, for their love, support and encouragement as our new deacons have prepared themselves for this lifelong commitment to the Church.”
Deacon Dan Burns, Director of Permanent Diaconate Formation, said, “Representing the diversity of the Archdiocese this class includes four candidates from the Hispanic community, one from the Brazilian community, and one from the Vietnamese community. The richness of the cultural and spiritual lives of these men and their families will bring great gifts to our parish collaboratives in the days and years ahead.”
Francis Burke and his wife of 27 years, Joanne, are members of St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Westford. The Burke’s have two children, Laura and David (DJ). Fran recently retired from a career in high tech and is currently pursuing degree in Theology at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization and also a certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreat Leadership at Creighton University. Fran Burke and Joanne have worked with the ACTS Retreat group at St. Catherine’s for the last 6 years. Fran was called to the diaconate by the opportunity to serve others. Fran hopes to continue his ministry focused on serving the poor and homeless. Fran will be assigned to St. Mary Parish in Chelmsford and to the Diaconate Formation Office following ordination.
Michael Curren and his wife Paula are members of St. Agnes Parish in Reading, MA. Mike and Paula have three children: Brenna is a teacher in Burlington, Maura is an administrative manager at Children’s Hospital, and Timothy is a Greek Orthodox priest at St. Vasilios Parish in Peabody. Father Timothy is married to Dr. Nijmeh Hodaly Curren of Beit Jala, Palestine. Mike started his secular career as a social worker and currently works in non-profit administration as a Senior Vice President for the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund in Wellesley. Mike spent time at the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton, MA and the Carmelite Seminary at Marquette University before discerning that he was called to marriage and family life. Mike continued to be drawn to a life of service in the Church through parish ministries and leadership, eventually being called to consider the diaconate as a vocation through the encouragement and inspiration of many priests and deacons in his life. Mike will serve at St. Augustine Parish in Andover and the Office of Ecumenical Affairs following ordination.
William C. Dwyer
William C. Dwyer and his wife Jeane currently reside in Merrimack NH and are members of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Westford. They have three grown children – Patrick and his bride Erin, Timothy and Meghan. Bill’s secular career has been in accounting and finance for both large and small companies. Living his Cursillo weekend was a springboard to a deeper relationship with the Lord. He heard a call to the diaconate during the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and has learned from Fr. Lawrence Porter that “the closer one gets to the God of the Bible, the further he sends you out”. Bill’s hope is to continue being active in prison ministry. Bill will be assigned to St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Westford, St. Anne Parish in Littleton, and to the Pro-Life and Respect Life Office following ordination.
George Escotto and his wife Maria are members of St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence. They have been married for 22 years and have been blessed with a daughter, Lesly, who is a student at Northern Essex Community College. George received his call to the diaconate through a personal encounter with God during a Cursillo retreat. George works in a Nursing Home as a custodian where he has the daily opportunity to be the presence of Christ to those who live there: “I feel like I am living a ministry here and seeing Christ in every one of the people who live in the Nursing Home every day.” George will be assigned to St. Patrick Parish in Lawrence and to Office of Cultural Diversity following ordination.
Edward S. Giordano
Edward S. Giordano and his wife Carol live in Stoneham and are members of St. Patrick Parish. Carol and Ed have two adult children, Mary and Matthew, and a daughter-in-law Jamie. Ed is the Director of Engineering at C.L. Hauthaway in Lynn. Ed has had wonderful Deacon Mentors at St. Patrick Parish and his first exposure to the Permanent Diaconate was at the Incarnation Parish in Melrose where both of his children were baptized by Permanent Deacons. At the Incarnation Parish Deacon Jack Wise gave Ed his first inspiration of the gift of the vocation and ministry of the Permanent Deacon. Ed feels his four years of academic study and spiritual formation have been a blessing that has allowed him to grown closer to our loving, kind, and merciful Lord, Jesus Christ. Ed hopes that he will serve Jesus and the people of God with that same love and compassion. Following ordination Ed will be assigned to St. Barbara Parish in Woburn and to Campus Ministry Office.
Chuck Hall and his wife Mary live in Rowley and worship at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Ipswich. Chuck has been a sheet metal mechanic, machinist, singer-songwriter, radio personality and software engineer. He continues an active musical life as a song writer and in producing audiobooks, including a reading of Chesterton’s “St. Francis of Assisi.” His most recent audio work was the narration of a documentary film on the life Fr. James Alberione, the founder of the Daughters of St. Paul. Chuck’s faith journey began 1971 with a dramatic encounter with Christ that led him out of the 1960’s counterculture and into evangelical and fundamentalist circles, before becoming a dedicated Reformed Presbyterian. His journey brought him to the Catholic Church in 2006, when he attended his first Mass. He was received into the Catholic Church in 2008. Chuck heard a call to the diaconate as he volunteered in hospitals and led a prayer ministry in his home parish. His parish priest encouraged him to consider a diaconate vocation and he entered formation with the understanding that the Holy Spirit could re-direct his journey at any time. The journey was never re-directed, however, and his calling became clearer as formation progressed. Chuck has been influenced greatly by the writings of G. K. Chesterton and the life and ministry of Pope Saint John Paul II. Shortly after being received into the Church, he lived a Cursillo weekend which also was a strong influence in his life. Chuck will be assigned to St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas the Apostle Parishes in Peabody and to the Office of Ecumenical Affairs following ordination.
Franklin Mejia was born and raised in Dominican Republic. Franklin is married to Wendy R. Mejia. They are the proud parents of Gabriel Andres, 10 and Isabella Maria, 7. He and his family are active members of St. Mary of the Annunciation parish in Cambridge. Franklin holds a Political Science degree and has been involved in television production. Franklin came to know Christ as a child thanks to his Grandfather Nicacio Mejia, who introduced him to the spiritual life and the doctrine of the Catholic faith. At a very young age, Franklin was an active member and youth leader of the Salesian Youth Group in his community. Upon arriving to the United States, Franklin worked for the Hispanic Youth Ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston organizing inter-parochial youth sports tournaments, youth leadership formation programs and an evangelization ministry dedicated to visiting the youth in jail. Franklin’s passion for evangelization led him to Catholic Television where he is the host and producer of “Buena Nueva” (The Good News). His desire to evangelize through the media was inspired by Pope John Paul II, who encouraged the Church to use every means of communication to introduce Christ to others. Franklin will be assigned to Sacred Hearts Parish in Malden and to Catholic TV following ordination.
Eric Peabody and his wife, Renee, live in Haverhill and have been married 20 years. He is a division manager at a national home improvement retailer and Renee is an administrative assistant at St. Basil Salvatorian Center in Methuen. Eric and Renee have two daughters, Haley and Mary. The Peabody Family are currently members of the collaborative of St. Lucy and St. Monica Parishes in Methuen. Eric has served in various liturgical ministries and is a third degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Eric entered the Church at the age of 16 through RCIA and his great uncle, the late Rev. Dennis T. Nason, encouraged Eric to consider a diaconal vocation. Following ordination Eric will be assigned to Sacred Hearts Parish in Haverhill and Office of the Catholic Labor Guild.
Jesus Peña and his wife Margarita are members of St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody and have three grown children. Jesus works as a Case Manager for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Jesus began his vocational journey in April 2009 when, feeling drawn to serve Christ more deeply, he turned to a trusted priest in the community, Fr. Alonso Macias, who suggested the diaconate. Jesus feels blessed by the many men of faith who have served as mentors to him over the past twenty years, including many wonderful priests and deacons. In a special way, Deacon Valentin Rivera and Deacon Antonio Perea were helpful to both Margarita and Jesus. More recently Deacon Leo Martin helped Jesus to understand both the faith and the ministry of the Deacon and to grow spiritually. According to Jesus, “These past four years of formation have been a life changing conversion of the heart through constant prayer, self-emptying, and service. The core of my ministry will be to live the Gospel by surrendering my will to the will of God.” Following ordination Jesus will be serve as a Deacon at the Salem collaborative of Immaculate Conception, St. James, and St. John the Baptist Parishes as well as in the Diaconate Formation Office.
Alvaro Jose Leiva Soares
Alvaro Jose Leiva Soares was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil and married his wife Carla in 1986. Alvaro and Carla are proud parents of three grown children, Alvaro Jr., Ivan, and Natalia. They are members of Holy Family Parish in Lowell and active members of both the Brazilian Apostolate and the Charismatic Renewal in the Archdiocese of Boston. Alvaro holds degrees in Economics and Computer Science as well as an MBA. He is fluent in Portuguese and English, and proficient in Spanish. Alvaro is currently working for Kaspersky Labs in Woburn as a Product Support Engineer. Alvaro has worked in many parish ministries and received his call to be a Permanent Deacon through his active participation in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He is currently responsible for the formation program inside of the Brazilian Ethnic Leaders Team and is currently appointed Liaison and Executive Director of the Charismatic Renewal movement in the Archdiocese of Boston. Following ordination Alvaro will be assigned to Holy Family Parish and the Office of Cultural Diversity.
Michael Tomkins and his wife Danni live in Wilmington and are parishioners at Saint Thomas of Villanova with their 5 children Hailey, Lauren, Victoria, Joshua, and Meghan. Michael attended Boston University where he received a degree in Computer Science and is now employed as Chief Technology Officer for a financial software company. Michael first learned about the diaconate at age 13 when he served as an altar server at the Mass of Thanksgiving for a close family friend, Deacon Robert Amerault. Raised in an active Catholic family and educated from elementary through high school at Saint Clements in Medford, the seeds of faith were planted at an early age. He felt God's call to the diaconate in his early twenties but as a newlywed he knew it would be some time before he could respond, so he and Danni kept busy raising their five children and remaining active in their parish. They found their true passion was for youth ministry where they served for over twenty years in numerous parishes throughout the archdiocese. In 1999 Michael and Danni each received the Pro Deo et Juventute award given in recognition of continuous and praiseworthy service to young people. Michael hopes to be a witness to those he serves to help them to grow deeper in answering their own baptismal call. Michael will be assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Dracut and the Office of Faith Formation for Youth and Young Adults following ordination.
Tam Van Tram
Tam Van Tram and his wife Thom have been married for 39 years, live in Andover, and have two daughters and two grandchildren. They are members of St. Theresa of Lisieux Parish in North Reading and the Vietnamese community at Sacred Hearts Parish in Malden. Tam plays guitar for the Contemporary Music Group and is a member of Parish Pastoral Council and Finance Committee at St Theresa Parish. Tam also is Chairman of the Finance Council for Sacred Hearts Parish. Tam had a long career in technology and business and now works as an Adjunct Professor at Middlesex Community College teaching Chemistry, Math, and Computer Science. He holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering and expects to complete his Master’s in Theological Studies Degree (MTS) at St. John Seminary in 2015. Tam was raised as a Buddhist in Vietnam and grew up during in the midst of the devastating war that raged in his homeland through the 1960’s and 1970’s. He converted to Catholicism in 1997. Tam sees the great grace of God’s love in leading him through life to this moment of ordination where he can serve the Church and God’s people. Following ordination Tam will be assigned to St. Theresa Parish in North Reading and to the Campus Ministry Office where he will serve as a Catholic Chaplain at the UMass campus in Boston.
Carlos Simon Valentin
Carlos Simon Valentin and his wife, Angelica, have been married for 16 years and live in Lynn. They have two children, Nicholas and Angel. Simon and Angelica have been active parishioners of St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody throughout their married life. Simon is a Draftsman and Auto Cad graduate and is currently employed by Greater Lynn Senior Services as a driver for “ The Ride”, which is part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Simon is the youngest member of the Class of 2014 and will be assigned to St. John the Baptist and St. Thomas the Apostle Parishes in Peabody and the Office of Cultural Diversity following ordination.
Prior to this ordination, there are 273 deacons in the Archdiocese of Boston (142 active with the remaining retired, on leave, or serving outside of the diocese). Thirteen (13) men will be ordained on September 20, 2014. The Archdiocese of Boston ordains a class of deacons every year. There are currently 49 men in formation (this includes the 13 about to be ordained). Of these 49, 20 (41%) are from our ethnic communities (10 Hispanic, 4 Brazilian, 2 Haitian, 2 Vietnamese, 1 Iraqi), ages range from 36 – 63, and 48 (98%) are married.
The Archdiocese holds an Inquirer Program each year in October/November for those who feel a possible call to the diaconate vocation. This program provides information to men and their wives about the vocation and ministry of deacons, the formation program, and the admissions process. It also includes a Saturday discernment retreat. The program generally draws 20-30 men each year. Information is available from Deacon Burns at [email protected]
Deacon Burns said, “Because the great majority of Permanent Deacons are married men with families, the formation and inquirer programs strongly involve their wives and focus on the grace and challenge of integrating ordained ministry with the primary vocation of marriage.”
Photos from the Ordination will be posted to www.bostoncatholicphotos.com following the event.