Deacons celebrate 25th anniversaries - Catholic Courier

Deacons celebrate 25th anniversaries

The following permanent deacons are celebrating 25 years of ministry this year. All were ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Matthew H. Clark on June 2, 1990.


Deacon Paul Clement is a fixture at Groveland Correctional Facility, where he began serving as cochaplain with his wife, Barbara, a year before he was ordained.

Prison ministry is not something he’d ever imagined himself doing, said Deacon Clement, who grew up in Irondequoit, where he attended St. Cecilia parish and school before becoming a member of Bishop Kearney High School’s first graduating class. He attended Rochester Institute of Technology and later worked as an engineering manager at Xerox Corp. while he and his wife attended St. Joseph Parish in Penfield.

He eventually was led to pursue the permanent diaconate and was in his third year of formation when Bishop Clark asked the Clements to work at the prison a few hours a week. Those hours gradually increased over the years, and Deacon Clement currently spends at least 32 hours a week at the prison, in addition to his duties with St. Luke the Evangelist Parish in Livingston County. Deacon Clement and his wife visit the parish’s ill and homebound as well as those in nursing facilities, and Deacon Clement serves at Mass at the parish’s five worship sites.

Deacon Clement is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus, and he and his wife have four children and 10 grandchildren and are anticipating the birth of a great-grandchild in a few months. He has enjoyed getting to know the "wonderful people" he interacts with at both the prison and the parish and hopes to continue his ministry with both.

"I’ve witnessed God’s plan for me and Barbara unfolding right before my eyes," he said.

Deacon Gary DiLallo has worn quite a few hats in his lifetime, but all of his many roles have incorporated service to others.
As a child, Deacon DiLallo attended St. Isaac Jogues Chapel in Fleming as well as St. Hyacinth Parish in his native Auburn. He attended St. Hyacinth’s parochial school and Mount Carmel High School before earning a bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C. He later worked as a police officer and served 37 years in the U.S. Army before retiring as a brigadier general.
He served as a deacon at St. Mary Parish in Waterloo for several years before Bishop Clark granted him a five-year leave from the diocese so he could serve in the Archdiocese of New York while he was working as chief executive officer of the New York City-based division of the Army Reserves.
He later served as faith-formation director at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Tioga County and in 2009 was appointed pastoral administrator of Auburn’s St. Hyacinth and St. Francis of Assisi parishes, which in 2012 merged to form Ss. Mary and Martha Parish. 
Deacon DiLallo retired from his pastoral-administrator position in 2014 and currently ministers part time at Ss. Mary and Martha as well as St. Mary Parish in Auburn. He and his wife, Priscilla, have adopted and provided foster care for a number of children over the years and now have a handful of grandchildren.
Deacon DiLallo said he’s enjoyed the many ways his vocation has allowed him to serve others.
"It’s been a great 25 years in the diocese, and I wouldn’t trade a day," he said.

Deacon Thomas Ecker can’t put his finger on one specific moment or experience that led him to consider the permanent diaconate.

"I just felt called to do more in the church," he explained.

A Rochester native, Deacon Ecker grew up attending St. John the Evangelist Parish on Humboldt Street, where he attended the parish school. He later attended Aquinas Institute and Allendale Columbia School before attending Georgetown University, Canisius College and Empire State College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree. By the time he felt the Holy Spirit nudging him toward the permanent diaconate, he’d already built an established career in the banking industry and had four children with his wife, Donna. 
After completing the diocesan deacon-formation program, he served at St. Joseph Parish in Penfield until 2000, when he became the parish deacon at St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester. Although he recently retired from that position, he still preaches and serves Mass there, and presides at weddings and baptisms when needed. For the past 25 years he also has served at Bethany House, which provides temporary housing for homeless women and children. 
Deacon Ecker said he has enjoyed the many facets of his vocation, and finds preaching to be especially fulfilling. He and his wife have seven grandchildren.
Deacon Stanley Grenn will celebrate his 25th jubilee of ordination in Florida, where he has lived since the 1990s. He and his wife, Elaine, have three children and four grandchildren.
Deacon Grenn, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, who graduated from John Carroll University and Kent State University, underwent diaconal formation at St. Bernard’s Institute and was ordained June 1, 1990. He then served at St. Theodore Church in Gates and as a chaplain at Monroe County Jail from 1990-94. He moved away from the Diocese of Rochester and was incardinated into the Diocese of St. Augustine in 1994.
Although he has retired as a deacon, he continues as a spiritual adviser for St. Vincent de Paul Society and Teams of Our Lady, as well as a board member of Prisoners of Christ Prison Ministry and a member of the Diocese of St. Augustine’s justice and peace commission.

Deacon Jim Hankey said he soon learned that the Holy Spirit had more in mind for him than conversion when he became a Catholic four decades ago.

Deacon Hankey originally converted for his wife of 44 years, Dora. The couple has two sons and four grandsons. He credits the encouragement of a friend, Father John Cosmic, and increased involvement in parish life for his decision to become a deacon. 
Deacon Hankey grew up in Corning and worked for Corning Glass from 1971-86, first as an engineer and later in information technology. He had graduated from Clarkson University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial distribution and a master’s degree in management.
In 1986, he became the business manager for Immaculate Conception Church in Ithaca. He also began studies at St. Bernard’s Institute, where he completed a master’s in theology. 
After ordination, he became the first deacon at Immaculate Conception and served there until 1999. He then served at All Saints Parish in Corning from 2000-11. At both parishes, he was involved in liturgy and preparation for annulments, baptism and  marriage as well as dealing with pastoral issues.
In 2011, he began serving on the board of CareFirst, which provides hospice and palliative care for Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler counties. For the past two years, he also has served as a chaplain for Arnot Ogden Medical Center and spiritual adviser with CareFirst.

"It’s been a phenomenal 25 years," he said. "The people in the parishes have been phenomenal. I’ve enjoyed serving them. And I’ve enjoyed serving the sick."

Both in diaconal ministry and his full-time work, Deacon Michael McGuire has done substantial good for folks in need. 
As a deacon he first served at St. Mary in Canandaigua, his home parish (1990-94), and St. Januarius in Naples (1994-2001). In January 2004 he began as full-time Catholic chaplain at Elmira Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison. He remained there until his retirement in December 2014. He also has worked for the Division for Youth and as a probation officer, and is the former national director of ConQuest Boys Clubs, a Catholic youth-development program.
"Things I never anticipated I’d be exposed to, to be involved with, have come into my life. I’ve enjoyed it all very much," said Deacon McGuire, who is originally from Wyoming. He added that prison chaplaincy in particular was "a time of great personal growth."
Deacon McGuire is serving as chaplain of the inaugural Rochester Men’s Conference on May 16 at St. John Fisher College. He also was recently assigned by Bishop Salvatore R. Matano to make the men’s conference his full-time diaconal ministry — which he said will be time well spent.
"For this year’s conference we started planning last April, and we should have started earlier," remarked Deacon McGuire, who with his wife, Catherine, has two children and three grandchildren.
Deacon McGuire said his 25th-anniversary celebration will be folded into the annual deacons’ convocation — for which he is serving as chair — on May 2 at Padre Pio Chapel in Gates. That event will recognize all anniversary classes.

Deacon David Palma is no stranger to leadership roles. 

He served as diocesan director of deacon personnel (2000-11) as well as director of deacon formation (2006-11). Then, from 2011-12, he was pastoral administrator of Rochester’s St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish, and since 2012 has been pastoral administrator of St. Mary in Rochester — his home parish at the time of his ordination. 
"My approach to leadership has been to really try to be a servant leader," Deacon Palma said, adding that in parish ministry he prefers empowering people rather than taking a top-down approach: "I’ve always said that I’m a companion to others, that we’re all on the journey together helping to build the kingdom."
Regarding his years as personnel and formation director for deacons, he said, "So much of what (deacons) do is kind of behind the scenes, that people don’t see. For me it was just an amazing, life-giving experience to see the incredible work they do and to be able to help them and work with them."
Other roles during Deacon Palma’s diaconate have included St. Anne/St. Gregory in Palmyra/Marion as pastoral associate (1990-95); service with the Diocesan Office of Migrant Ministry (1996-97); and Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf as campus minister (1997-2000). 
Deacon Palma and his wife, Julianne, will celebrate his 25th anniversary during coffee hours at St. Mary following weekend Masses June 13-14 (4 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday).

Deacon Jim Steiger originally considered becoming a priest. 

But after attending St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries, the Aquinas Institute alumnus stopped his studies to care for his ailing parents and didn’t have the funds to continue, he said.
He taught at Gates-Chili High School for five years, then worked in information systems for such companies as Gleason Works and Wilmorite.
But his pastor at St. Leo in Hilton kept on him to apply for the diaconate program. He applied for the 1982 class and was rejected. A few years later, his pastor urged him to try again, which he did successfully. He served as a deacon at St. Leo from 1990-2002.
He then served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2002-07); St. Joseph, Rush (2008-10); and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Hamlin (2010-13). He returned to St. Leo in 2013.
Highlights of his ministry include officiating marriage ceremonies — including one in the Netherlands — for his two children and baptizing his eight grandchildren.
While still serving at parishes, he began in 2002 concurrent work in the diocesan tribunal.
"You are dealing with the brokenness of marriage," he said. "Every time, I drive away from here, I thank God for my wife."
He and his wife, Carol, have been married for 43 years.
While he shies away from the spotlight, he said his wife is planning a community celebration of thanksgiving with a Mass and luncheon this spring.

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