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Transitional deacons to be ordained May 27

Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss will ordain four men to the transitional diaconate Friday, May 27, 7 p.m. at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

The public is invited to attend. A reception will follow at the Cathedral Cultural Center.

Those being ordained transitional deacons are: Christopher Onuoha, Francis Valerio, An Duy Phan and Bernard Starman.

Transitional deacons are seminarians in their last year of preparation for ordination to the priesthood. A transitional deacon may baptize, distribute communion, witness marriages and lead the rites for Christian burial.

"They bring a great deal of energy and love for the church and I think their desire to preach and live the gospel is evident in their commitment to study and formation," said Father Ralph O'Donnell, vocations director for the Archdiocese of Omaha.

The call to diaconal service is essential in ordained ministry, he said. It gives them the opportunity to work with parish priests and staff and to function in the sacraments – to help with baptisms and preparation, visit the sick and preach the gospel – as they prepare for the priesthood.

Christopher Ngozi Onuoha

Born in Nigeria on May 5, 1958, Onuoha is the son of Roseleen Edoro and the late Christopher Dike Onuoha. He has three brothers, Christian, John and Charles, and three sisters, Agatha, Gloria and Christiana.

He attended the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu, Nigeria, Anambra State University of Science and Technology, also in Enugu, and the Catholic Institute for Development Justice and Peace in Nigeria. He also studied at the University of Cordoba in Cordoba, Spain, and Creighton University in Omaha.

He entered Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis in 2001 and attended the Institute for Priestly Formation on the Creighton University campus 2004.

As a seminarian, Onuoha has served as a reader and acolyte, as well as the assistant chaplain at a residential living facility for the elderly in St. Louis. He also helped at an after school program run by the Missionaries of Charity in St. Louis.

He has been a member of the Intercessors of the Lamb since 1999.

Francis Dominic Valerio

Valerio, 34, is the son of Leslie and Josephine Valerio of Smyrna, Tenn. He has four sisters, Barbara, Angie, Gina and Jenny. His brother, Leslie Paul, is deceased.

Before entering Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, he attended Our Lady of the Holy Cross College in New Orleans and St. Louis University in St. Louis. He received a bachelor degree in general studies from the University of Nebraska in Omaha.

As a seminarian, he has been involved in youth ministry and youth retreats and after school ministry for children. He also assisted at soup kitchens and at a house for people living with AIDS.

He is a member of the Intercessors of the Lamb.

An Duy Phan

Born May 8, 1979, in Vietnam, Phan is the son of My Phan and La Vu of California. He has six sisters and one brother.

He attended St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward for two years before attending Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He currently attends Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md.

During the summers, Phan served at St. Vincent de Paul and St. Peter parishes in Omaha where he assisted at Masses, weddings and funerals. He also visited hospitals and attended the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton.

While in the seminary, he prayed with patients in the hospital, delivered food to the poor, brought the Eucharist to the sick, and taught religion at an area Catholic school.

Bernard Starman

Starman, 41, is the son of Norbert and Jeanette Starman of rural Elgin and the late Clara Starman. He has one younger sister, Sandra.

He attended Conception Seminary in Conception, Mo., where he received a bachelor degree in theology, before studying at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Ore.As a seminarian, Starman has been involved in several ministries, including pastoral care of the elderly, prison ministry, retreat programs and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at All Saints Parish in Portland, Ore. He currently serves as chaplain to law enforcement, paramedic and fire and rescue personnel for agencies in Marion County and Western Oregon.

His summer assignments included Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk, St. Mary Parish in Bellevue, St. Patrick Parish in Fremont and St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha. He was co-director of Camp St. Francis at Mount Michael Benedictine Abbey in 2002 and was on the support staff for the Archdiocesan Synod in 2004. Starman also attended the Institute for Priestly Formation on the Creighton University campus.

For the 2005-2006 academic year, he will participate in a deacon internship, pastoral practicum at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego, Ore.

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