Second group of men ordained to diaconate
Eleven men were ordained to the permanent diaconate May 6 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, with Archbishop George J. Lucas presiding at the 10 a.m. ceremony.
The men joined 10 others ordained April 29, making it the largest class since the ministry began in the archdiocese in 1973.
Biographies of the group ordained last month ran in the April 21 issue of the Catholic Voice, and information about the second group accompany this article. A summary of both ceremonies, with photographs and comments from the newly ordained deacons, will be in the May 19 Catholic Voice.
Parish: St. Gerald, Ralston.
Marital Status: Married 12 years to wife, Marie; three sons and three daughters.
Activities/Ministries: Extraordinary minister of holy Communion (EMHC), homebound Communion minister, lector, acolyte, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) instructor, marriage and baptism preparation, Knights of Columbus, Omaha Byzantine Catholic Community core team member, annulment sponsor.
Wife’s ministries: EMHC.
Couple’s ministries: Marriage and baptism preparation.
About the call to diaconate: "I discovered my call to the diaconate through prayer and the encouragement of those around me. Though I knew formation would be challenging, especially with having a young family, I believe we must always follow the example of the prophets and saints and go where the Lord calls us despite any personal hardships we may face. If we are answering the Lord’s call, he will always give us the graces we need, and that has certainly been my experience in diaconate formation."
Plans after ordination: "I want to continue to fulfill Christ’s call to ‘make disciples of all nations’ in whatever way the Lord and the archbishop see fit. Through prayer, service at the altar, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching and service to those in need, I hope to bring people to know and love Christ more deeply and to feel his loving presence in their lives."
DONALD BLACKBIRD JR.
Parish: St. Joseph, Walthill.
Marital status: Married 12 years to wife, Cathy; two sons, two daughters.
Profession: Principal, St. Augustine Indian Mission, Winnebago.
Activities/Ministries: Director of religious education at St. Augustine Parish in Winnebago, St. Joseph in Walthill, Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Macy, St. Cornelius Parish in Homer; evangelization committee, RCIA, former parish council president, Our Lady of Fatima Church building committee.
Couple’s ministries: RCIA, marriage preparation, food pantry.
About the call to diaconate: "From a very young age, I was influenced by my mother and father, who showed me by example what it meant to live a life in service to others. They fostered my calling to serve God and his people, and encouraged me to grow deeper in my spiritual life. I found further inspiration of self-giving in the stories of saints. I always found these stories to be full of heroic virtue and wanted to model my life on their example. As a boy at St. Augustine Indian Mission, I also saw these same virtues lived out in a very real and concrete way by the Missionary Benedictine Sisters at the school. I believe it was the blessing of such powerful and humble examples that helped me to discern that God was calling me to holy orders, and allowed me to say ‘yes’ and embrace my diaconal vocation."
Plans after ordination: "I expect to minister to the Native American people in the communities on the Omaha and Winnebago reservations. Other duties include evangelization and assisting with Archbishop (George J.) Lucas’ strategic vision for the archdiocese."
Parish: St. Peter, Omaha.
Marital status: Married 12 years to wife, Miriam; three sons, one daughter.
Profession: Manager of the archdiocese’s Office of Missions and Justice, adviser on public policy, involved with canonization effort for Servant of God Father Edward Flanagan.
Activities/Ministries: Speaker, author on Catholic social teaching, board member of Discerning Hearts.
Wife’s ministries: Actor and director of performing arts, board member of Nebraska Opera Project.
About the call to diaconate: "The call to diaconate was not something that I sought out, but which the Lord gave to me. It has been wonderfully fostered and refined by the formation program led by Deacon Keating and the team of formators. It has also been enriched beyond measure by my fellow classmates. It has truly been the fruit of the Lord and his church."
Plans after ordination: "I plan only to continue to serve my family, the archbishop, and my archdiocesan and parish families with the charisms gifted to me and with the hope of helping others encounter the Lord Jesus."
Parish: St. Charles Borromeo, near Gretna.
Marital Status: Married 38 years to wife, Joyce; three sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren and one on the way.
Profession: Director, Catholic Cemeteries, Archdiocese of Omaha.
Activities/Ministries: Volunteer with St. Croix Hospice; core team member of parish men’s group; facilitator, adult Catholic education sessions; EMHC and lector, choir member, Knights of Columbus and Bible study. Woodworking, reading, playing music (drums), spending time with family.
Wife’s ministries: Choir member; cantor; Mary Matters, funeral help, Bible study.
About the call to diaconate: "My earliest calling was when I was about 9 years old. As a server at Mass, I remember seeing the lights glimmer off of the wine when the priest was preparing the cup, and thinking ‘next to the priest, I am (physically) closer to the Lord than everyone here in church.’ That has always resonated with me and I loved serving at the altar. I attended one year of high school seminary in Oak Brook, Ill., but decided to return to Humphrey to finish school. The late Deacon Ralph Brisson encouraged me to look at the diaconate when I was in my early 30s but with small children I was not ready to commit. During 2010, Father Norman Hunke said "Dan, have you ever considered the diaconate? I think you should pray about it." I did pray about it (a lot), applied, and here I am."
Plans after ordination: "I will continue in my role at Catholic Cemeteries for the Archdiocese of Omaha, and with hospice, but in a deeper role as a deacon. I look forward to assisting at Mass and working with adults and youth in catechesis. Joyce and I will work closely with Father (Jeffrey) Loseke and Deacon (Dave) Fischman to determine the best means of serving the members of St. Charles and beyond through the diaconate."
Parish: St. Mary, Bellevue.
Marital Status: Married 30 years to wife, Cindy; two daughters, one son, three grandchildren.
Profession: Retired elementary school teacher.
Activities/Ministries: Altar server, Columban Fathers’ community garden coordinator, EMHC, sacristan, hospital ministry, That Man is You! coordinator, third-degree member of Knights of Columbus.
Wife’s ministries: Catholic Daughters, EMHC, music ministry.
Couple’s ministries: Children’s Liturgy of the Word, Couples in Christ, parish and school development and strategic planning, school and parish gardening, work with immigrant families, St. Mary Parish and school benefit auction, perpetual adoration.
About the call to diaconate: "For many years, I have listened humbly to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to prayerfully consider a call to the permanent diaconate. The deacons at St. Mary Parish in Bellevue have provided me with a lot of encouragement, direction and guidance as well. It has indeed been a fruitful journey of faith for me – full of abundant blessings!"
Plans after ordination: "I plan to be open and willing to respond to the Lord’s call and where he will lead me. I look forward to serving the Archdiocese of Omaha and the faith community of St. Mary’s in Bellevue."
Parish: St. Bonaventure, Columbus.
Marital Status: Married 47 years to wife, Lorie; four daughters, one son, 14 grandchildren.
Profession: Rural mail carrier, U.S. Postal Service.
Activities/Ministries: EMHC, men’s choir, That Man Is You! Christians Encounter Christ (CEC), perpetual adoration, jail ministry.
Wife’s ministries: EMHC, CEC, Ladies of the Lord, jail ministry.
Couple’s ministries: Family faith formation.
About the call to diaconate: "Initially I felt called to use the gifts God has given me to serve him by serving the church and my fellow man. As I have progressed through the program, I have come to see the diaconate as a wonderful gift to me. I have developed a relationship with God that is deeper and more joyful than I thought possible."
Plans after ordination: "I will be joining a vibrant, active parish staff, doing all I can to help them bring the voice of our Good Shepherd to his flock. I trust the Holy Spirit, Father (Michael) Swanton and my fellow deacons, will help guide me to where I can be most effective."
Parish: Christ the King, Omaha.
Marital Status: Married 37 years to wife, Terri; two daughters, one son, one grandchild in heaven, another on the way.
Profession: Loss control representative.
Activities/Ministries: RCIA, perpetual adoration, parish council, volunteer at Radio Talking Book and Holy Family Shrine.
Wife’s ministries: St. Vincent de Paul Society, volunteer at Children’s Hospital and EPS, spiritual mom for Institute for Priestly Formation.
Couple’s ministries: Senior outreach.
About the call to diaconate: "In my adult life, there has always been a great desire to make a difference in the lives of those that were less fortunate. Assisting at soup kitchens, doing food drives and the like were a constant. Living out Matthew 25 was important to me. At the same time, I was being fed through daily Mass and Scripture reading. It felt like there was more to offer and I was being asked to give more. I felt there was a calling. After discussion with my wife and prayer, I inquired about the diaconate program to see if this is where I was being led. It has been a most marvelous and blessed journey."
Plans after ordination: "Really developing a solid, senior outreach at Christ the King and being open and obedient to whatever God has in mind for me."
Parish: St. Gerald, Ralston.
Marital Status: Married 17 years to wife, Angi; two daughters, one son.
Profession: Probation/parole supervisor for Fourth Judicial District.
Activities/Ministries: EMHC, acolyte, Communion services at retirement home, Knights of Columbus, RCIA, baptism classes, Alpha Group, jail ministry.
Wife’s ministries: School volunteer.
About the call to diaconate: "I participated in That Man Is You! for several years. It caused me to think more deeply about my role as a Catholic husband and father. In time, I began to discern and pray about the diaconate. My wife, Angi, was very encouraging and supportive of the idea. I felt called to serve God and others. I feel encouraged to give and receive as much love as God can offer. Our marriage and family has received many blessings from the formation process and we are grateful for the prayers and support of our priests, deacons, family and friends."
Plans after ordination: "I will be open to the Lord’s servant mysteries."
Parish: St. Gerald, Ralston.
Marital Status: Married 41 years to Patricia; two sons, two daughters, eight grandchildren.
Activities/Ministries: Acolyte, eighth-grade confirmation catechist.
Profession: Cost accountant.
Wife’s ministries: Prayer chain.
Couple’s ministries: Adoration of the Eucharist.
About the call to diaconate: "Interest was building before 2012 through the series, Lord, Teach Me to Pray and That Man is You! At a discernment retreat in January 2012, I was motivated to investigate my interest. In the fall of 2012 our family situation changed, allowing us more free time as a couple. This, and the Year of Faith motivated seeking acceptance for diaconate formation. Seeking entrance into the diaconate was supported by Father (Owen) Korte and the deacons in the parish. I am very grateful to our priests and deacons for their support."
Plans after ordination: "I look forward after ordination to sharing gifts from God in our parish and as our bishop leads."
Parish: St. Matthew the Evangelist, Bellevue.
Marital Status: Married 23 years to wife, Barbara; two sons.
Profession: Director of religious education at the parish; retired U.S. Air Force.
Activities/Ministries: Religious education, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, hospice ministry, EMHC, lector, Knights of Columbus, Appalachian construction crew.
Couple’s ministries: Youth education, interfaith marriage program facilitators.
About the call to diaconate: "I’ve felt a call to service my entire adult life. As I approached the end of my military career, God called me to a different kind of service – the diaconate. The formation process affirmed this calling and deepened my understanding of the charisms the Holy Spirit has given me for my sanctification and future ministry."
Plans after ordination: "I eagerly look forward to serving Christ’s church at my parish by being a minister of the Word and of the altar. I am open and available to the Holy Spirit’s will for me in ministering in charity and mercy."
Parish: St. Francis Borgia, Blair.
Marital Status: Married 18 years to wife, Darla; one daughter, two sons.
Profession: Middle school math teacher.
Activities/Ministries: Youth ministry coordinator, EMHC, lector, junior/senior parish religious education teacher, That Man Is You!, National Catholic Youth Conference, Camp Virtus et Veritas volunteer.
Couple’s ministries: The Choice Wine, parish Angel Tree, rosary.
About the call to diaconate: "Although my call to diaconate seemed to evolve through a variety of moments, two particular encounters with God spoke to me more profoundly than others. One occurred during our Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Cathedral in 2000, and the other occurred during the diaconate ordination of my father in 2002. In each of these encounters, I experienced a deep longing for change in my life, especially with regard to serving the Lord. As he continued to call me to deeper conversion and surrender, I felt drawn to diaconate. Since then I have found, in this call to formation, the renewal of my being, which will continue as I answer the call each and every day for the rest of my life."
Plans after ordination: "My plan is to serve in accordance with God’s plan in my life, to remain permanently available to Christ in his ministry of charity."