Bishop Matthew H. Clark ordained four men to the permanent diaconate May 21 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Deacons Kevin Carges, Wil Johnson, David LaFortune and Joseph Placious were the first to be ordained at the cathedral since its doors reopened last January following an extensive renovation.
“It’s a first in a lot of ways, isn’t it?” Bishop Clark asked, noting that many in the congregation had never seen a diaconal ordination before.
Deacon Carges, who belongs to St. Dominic’s Parish in Shortsville, said he always felt some manner of calling from God.
“Way back when, like many people, I considered the priesthood. At that time I decided against it, because I knew I wanted to have a family,” Deacon Carges said. After he married his wife, Jackie, the pair had four children, who range in age from 6 to 24.
Deacon Carges, who runs a print shop in Canandaigua, said he wouldn’t have been able to successfully complete the deacon-formation process without the support of his coworkers, fellow parishioners and family. Jackie was especially supportive, taking on more of the responsibilities of raising their two youngest children while he was in class.
Although he hasn’t yet received his ministerial assignment, Deacon Carges said the uncertainty doesn’t bother him.
“I really feel that the Holy Spirit will guide me where I need to go,” Deacon Carges said.
Deacon Placious said he joined the diaconate for much the same reasons as Deacon Carges.
“I felt I always had a calling, but I knew I didn’t want to be a priest. Then I got married and I still felt it,” said Deacon Placious, an emergency dispatcher for the Monroe County Water Authority.
“The reality hasn’t set in yet,” Deacon Placious said of his new vocation the day after his ordination. He expected it to set in by the following Saturday, when he was scheduled to celebrate his first baptism.
Prior to becoming a deacon, he had served in various ministries at St. Andrew’s Parish, where he and his wife, Natalie, attend Mass. The couple have two sons and became grandparents just a few weeks ago, he said.
Deacon Placious also said Natalie was an integral part of the formation process.
“Natalie took every class with me that she was allowed to take,” he said proudly.
Although she wasn’t able to attend all of the classes because of her own job as a pastoral associate at All Saints Parish in Corning, Deacon LaFortune said his wife, Trish, was still a crucial part of his formation. Deacon LaFortune and his wife have two daughters and attend All Saints.
Deacon LaFortune has worked as a pastoral associate for the Schuyler Catholic Community for the past two years, and plans to continue in that ministry. He began considering the diaconate because “a lot of people kept asking me, ‘Have you ever thought of it?’ and I kept telling them no,” he said. “Eventually I thought, ‘Maybe God is trying to tell me something.'”
Deacon Johnson was a Baptist when he first met his wife, Linda, but converted to Catholicism in 1991, six years after they were married. Even before he converted, however, he felt called to ministry.
“When I was a little boy I felt a call to serve the Lord, and I tried to live my life accordingly along the way. My faith has always been something very important to me,” said Deacon Johnson, who has three children.
Deacon Johnson became interested in the diaconate after attending a retreat with a men’s group from his parish, Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford. When he returned to work after the retreat, he was transferred to a new department, where he began discussing the diaconate with his new supervisor, Deacon Ed Giblin.
“It’s funny how divine intervention has really played a big part in my life. Things I don’t necessarily think I want often end up being real blessings,” said Deacon Johnson, a lieutenant with the Rochester Police Department.
Like Deacon Carges, he isn’t sure where he’ll be assigned, but he’s not worried.
“I just want to see where the Lord leads,” Deacon Johnson said. “Where the Lord leads I know will be the right place, regardless of wherever I think I want to be.”