Deacon Albro Wilson; former deacon director - Catholic Courier

Deacon Albro Wilson; former deacon director

Deacon Albro Wilson, one of the first permanent deacons in the Diocese of Rochester and former director of its permanent diaconate program, died of cancer Aug. 19, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. He was 79.

Deacon Wilson was born in Phillipsburg, N.J. He graduated from Lafayette University with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and earned a master’s degree in instructional technology from Rochester Institute of Technology. He served in the United States Army, was an engineer for General Electric and Xerox Corp., and later worked as a training consultant.

In 1983, three years before his retirement from Xerox, he was ordained in the second class of permanent deacons in the Rochester Diocese. He went on to direct the diaconate program from 1984-88.

"He put a lot of vision into place and really developed some of the ways the community coordinates and ministers within itself," said Deacon David Palma, the current diocesan director of deacon personnel. Deacon Palma added that Deacon Wilson "was a great mentor for me as well as a very good friend."

Deacon Wilson noted in a 2008 Catholic Courier article that some of his most profound ministry occurred in professional circles, particularly at Xerox.

"I think the crazy thing was, I had more people who I brought back to God in the workplace than I ever had in the parish. Everybody (at Xerox) knew I was a deacon, so I was available for people, and a few of them I saw back in church. That’s the most rewarding part," he told the Courier.

Deacon Wilson served at Church of the Transfiguration in Pittsford until 1990 when he moved to St. Paul of the Cross in Honeoye Falls. He was a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and also a longtime member of the diocesan deacons’ admissions committee.

"He was instrumental in helping to identify good candidates over the years," Deacon Palma said.

In recent years Deacon Wilson resided part time in Arizona. Although retired from the diaconate, he remained active at All Saints Parish in Mesa, Ariz., and still assisted at St. Paul of the Cross when in the Rochester area. He also did part-time consulting work and in retirement served as regional director of a religious travel company. In 2007 he cohosted a pilgrimage to Italy and its surrounding areas. The previous year, he traveled twice to New Orleans to assist alongside other Rochester-area volunteers in gutting and repairing homes that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Deacon Palma said Deacon Wilson’s people skills helped make him a model deacon.

"He was just a great guy; we’re going to miss him terribly. He was always upbeat and always enjoyed being with whoever he was with in that moment," Deacon Palma said, adding that Deacon Wilson "was a very compassionate and caring man."

Deacon Wilson’s funeral Mass took place Aug. 26 at All Saints Church in Mesa. A memorial service at St. Paul of the Cross in Honeoye Falls will take place Friday, Sept. 3, at 10:30 a.m.

Deacon Wilson was predeceased by his wife, Doris. He is survived by his daughters Barb (Charlie) Bathon, Beth and Jeanette; brothers Harry and Paul (Jeannie); five grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and many nieces and nephews.

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