The following deacons are marking 25th and 30th anniversaries of ordination in 2022. All were ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Matthew H. Clark. Those celebrating 30 years were ordained on May 30, 1992, and the 25-year jubilarian was ordained on June 7, 1997.
An engineer who heard God’s call: Deacon Cass
“I love being a deacon, and I love being Roman Catholic,” Deacon Thomas Cass recently remarked.
In fact, the permanent diaconate is one of the things he likes best about Roman Catholicism, he added.
A lifelong Catholic, Deacon Cass grew up in Ontario, where he spent a lot of time on his grandfather’s nearby farm. He married his wife, Jean, in September 1960, and the couple bought their own farm in Newark, where they raised seven children. They also raised beef cattle on the “gentleman’s farm” while Deacon Cass worked at Kodak for 26 years, first as an engineer and later in management.
Deacon Cass discerned his calling to the permanent diaconate after retiring from Kodak. After ordination, he served at St. Michael Parish in Newark from 1992 until 1997, when he began a three-year stint as director of deacon personnel for the Diocese of Rochester. During that time, he also served on the National Association of Deacon Directors.
In 2000, Deacon Cass took a yearlong leave of absence to travel with Jean before returning to serve briefly at Good Shepherd Catholic Community in southern Cayuga County. The couple then moved to the Catskill region of New York, where they served for 13 years as the caretakers at the Monastery of Bethlehem in Sullivan County.
Deacon Cass and his wife then moved to Vermont, where he served for several years at St. Peter Parish in Vergennes and St. Ambrose Parish in Bristol. They have 21 children and 25 great-grandchildren.
Deacon Cass said he has enjoyed serving God’s people in the various places he’s lived.
“I love preaching. I love helping people,” he said. “We’ve been very blessed along the way.”
From college professor to deacon: Deacon Curtin
“How would you like to go to prison?”
Deacon Claude Curtin asked that question of his wife, Patricia, when his vocation was still relatively new. His bemused wife nonetheless answered in the affirmative, and the Curtins embarked on a years-long stint of conducting weekend retreats for men in state prisons.
Deacon Curtin’s background made him well-suited for prison ministry. A native of Chicago, he went to school in Missouri for a time before moving to Paris, France, where he met Patricia and earned a master’s degree from the Catholic University of Paris.
The Curtins moved to Rochester in the late 1960s when Deacon Curtin took a job teaching philosophy at Nazareth College. While teaching, he also attended Syracuse University, where he earned a doctorate in philosophy as well as a a master’s degree in social work. In the mid-1970s, he left Nazareth to become director of the Daybreak alcoholism treatment center.
It was during his time at Daybreak that Deacon Curtin, a lifelong Catholic, discerned his calling to the permanent diaconate. After ordination, he was assigned to St. Michael Parish in Penn Yan, which now is a worship site of Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Community. He served in Penn Yan until reaching senior status in 2016, but also spent several years of that period as diocesan director of deacon formation.
“Working with the other deacons and being part of the formation of the community was very rewarding,” Deacon Curtin recalled.
Now 81, Deacon Curtin occasionally assists at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wildwood, Fla.
“I am very grateful to the diocese and to the Lord for the opportunity to be a deacon,” Deacon Curtin said. “It was a great blessing for me and my wife.”
‘I was always at the church’: Deacon Paluskiewicz
Pursuing the permanent diaconate was a natural progression for Deacon David Paluskiewicz, who had been highly active for many years at his native St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Elmira Heights.
“I was always at the church,” he recalled. “I was drawn, socially and spiritually. I can trace it all the way back to my youth.”
Deacon Paluskiewicz served in the U. S. Air Force from 1971-75 and moved to Rochester in the 1980s. Originally a machinist, he transitioned into full-time parish ministry beginning in 1990 — two years before his diaconal ordination — at Rochester’s Blessed Sacrament Parish, where he coordinated religious education, youth ministry and marriage preparation.
He continued at Blessed Sacrament until 2001, when he became pastoral associate and faith-formation director at St. Columba/St. Patrick Parish in Caledonia. His ministry expanded to incorporate St. Vincent de Paul in Churchville and St. Mary of the Assumption in Scottsville, when the three parishes were clustered in 2011. Deacon Paluskiewicz retired from full-time parish duty in 2016.
He served as chaplain for Unity Health System (2002-15) and Edna Tina Wilson Living Center in Greece (2010-20) and currently assists as a senior deacon at St. Theodore Parish in Gates. In addition, he volunteers with St. Andrew Food Cupboard and as spiritual adviser for the Rochester Cursillo Movement.
Deacon Paluskiewicz and his wife, Anne, have two children.
A servant does what he is asked: Deacon Sampson
Deacon Gregory Sampson got a humbling lesson about ordained ministry in 1990.
As part of his diaconal field training, he was assisting at a hospice for AIDS patients in Washington, D.C., and, one day, was struggling to change a patient’s diaper. Displeased that he’d drawn that duty, he accepted another man’s offer of help. He later learned that his helper was Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va.
The lesson learned?
“The important thing is to get out there and be a servant. A servant does what he is asked,” Deacon Sampson remarked.
A native of Des Moines, Iowa, he worked for many years in Rochester as an engineer with Eastman Kodak Co., converting to Catholicism in 1982. He served at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Irondequoit (1992-96), St. Anne in Rochester (1996-2000) and St. Margaret Mary in Irondequoit (2001-03). He also volunteered for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which assists people in financial crisis.
He returned to Iowa in 2003, serving at three parishes in the Sioux City area and volunteering in hospital and jail ministry. He was incardinated into the Diocese of Sioux City in 2008 before retiring from active service three years ago and relocating to Charlottesville, Va.
“I’ve been so blessed to live in three wonderful places. Each has its own charm,” Deacon Sampson said.
He and his wife, Carole, have two children and four grandchildren.
A heart for parish life and marriage: Deacon Cadregari
Deacon David Cadregari describes himself as simply a “parish deacon.”
“I just loved being in the parishes,” he said.
A native of Rochester, Deacon Cadregari grew up in Chili’s St. Pius XChurch. He attended Gates Chili schools and Aquinas Institute, then studied computer science at St. John Fisher College and Rochester Institute of Technology.
Following diaconal ordination, he served at St. Ambrose Church, Rochester (1997-99), Holy Ghost Church, Gates (2000-13) and St. Mark Church, Greece (2013-21).
“I just really loved being part of the life of the parish and to celebrate the moments of joy and the moments of sorrow — all the things that come with being a member of a Catholic community,” he told the Catholic Courier April 21.
Deacon Cadregari and his wife, Rebecca,also had a special charism for the sacrament of marriage — whether ministering in marriage preparation or marriage support. The Cadregaris were one of the couples chosen to serve as second-marriage mentors in the diocese.
Outside of his parish work, Deacon Cadregari was director for Children Awaiting Parents, an agency that finds adoptive homes for children who wait the longest in foster care. The Cadregaris’ two children are adopted.
In September, Deacon Cadregari retired as a federal government compliance supervisor at Rochester Gas and Electric, and the he and Rebecca — who has made anniversary stoles for deacons as they reached their 25th jubilees — relocated to Denver, Colo., where their daughter and two of their six grandchildren live. Deacon Cadregari is currently awaiting a parish assignment with the Archdiocese of Denver.
In 2022, the following men also are celebrating their anniversaries of ordination:
40 years: Deacon Dominick Abballe, Deacon Raymond Defendorf, Deacon Patrick Graybill, Deacon Daniel Kinsky, Deacon Anthony Marini, Deacon Nemesio Martinez, Deacon Carlos Vargas and Deacon George Welch
35 years: Deacon Richard Lombard
25 years: Deacon Robert Schrader