Five permanent deacons in the Diocese of Rochester are celebrating their 25th anniversaries of ordination. They were ordained in June 1986 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester by Bishop Matthew H. Clark.
Deacon Leo G. Aman said it was his wife, Marian, who encouraged him to consider the permanent diaconate, because she knew that the Holy Trinity alumnus had studied at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester years earlier.
Instead of becoming a priest, the young student decided to attend St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. He went into accounting at Eastman Kodak Co., and he retired from the company in 1991.
But when his wife heard about the permanent diaconate program, she reminded her husband of his call, and he enrolled at St. Bernard’s Institute, where he earned a master’s degree in theology.
After ordination he served at several parishes in Monroe County: St. Anthony of Padua in Rochester, St. Charles Borromeo in Greece, St. Mary in Honeoye and St. Pius Tenth in Chili. He also served with Nazareth College’s campus ministry.
He retired from active diaconal service in 2007, but continues to volunteer at his home parish, St. Charles Borromeo.
Deacon Aman said some of his favorite memories of his ministry were the eight years when he took a group of Nazareth College students on spring break to Clairvaux Farm, a 20-acre farm in Earlville, Md., that houses up to 50 homeless people.
"One of the most memorable parts was being with college students and watching them experience the people who were homeless," he said.
Another highlight, he noted, was traveling in 1993 to Israel; Deacon Aman said he appreciated visiting some of the places mentioned in the Bible.
The Amans have seven children and 15 grandchildren, and Deacon Aman was a member of the National Guard from 1959-65.
Deacon Gregory Kiley is a chaplain assigned to Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, Seneca County, and he also serves the parish cluster of St. Michael, Lyons; St. John the Evangelist, Clyde; and St. Patrick, Savannah. His home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Clyde.
He attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Scarsdale, N.Y., and majored in religious studies at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford. He studied theology at St. Bernard’s Institute.
At the time of his ordination, Deacon Kiley was director of religious education at St. Michael in Newark and had a history of ministry work. As part of the permanent diaconate program, he did field education at the Wayne County Jail, a two-month assignment that stretched into four years.
During that time, the words of Matthew 25:36: "(For I was) in prison and you visited me," came alive to him, he said.
"One of the things I really like about prison ministry is the inmates, they don’t want to hear, ‘I’m OK,’ ‘You’re OK,’ because they know they are not," Deacon Kiley said. "They want to hear that Christ came for them and saved them."
He was previously assigned to St. John the Evangelist, Clyde, and St. Patrick, Savannah, before the parishes were clustered with St. Michael. He also served as chaplain at Cayuga Correctional Facility.
Deacon Kiley and his wife, Elena, have six children and nine grandchildren. In addition to his ministry, he became a member of the Knights of Columbus in December 2010.
Deacon Brian J. McNulty serves as chaplain of Rochester Psychiatric Center, where he had been a teacher there for 33 years before retiring in 2005. The center offers services to three populations: adults, adolescents and those who are being adjudicated in the criminal justice system.
At the psychiatric center, Deacon McNulty’s duties include conducting spiritual assessments of patients, connecting patients with spiritual resources that they can use for their treatment, celebrating sacraments and memorial services, and supporting the spiritual needs of the center’s staff.
Being a deacon has given him the opportunity to inspire others to serve, he said.
"(Deacons) translate what we do in our prayer life into real action," Deacon McNulty said.
In addition to his work with the psychiatric center, Deacon McNulty has been active with the interfaith community and previously was an officer of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the diocese. He is married to Episcopal Deacon Lynne McNulty, and both are on the board of spiritual advisers to the National Association of InterChurch and Interfaith Families. The couple has two children and two grandchildren.
Deacon McNulty studied at St. John Fisher College in Pittsford, SUNY Geneseo, Nazareth College in Pittsford and St. Bernard’s Institute, earning a bachelor’s degree in English, a master’s degree in special education, a master’s degree in theology and a master’s degree in divinity.
He served at Rochester’s St. Augustine Parish (1986-98), the Roman Catholic Community of the 19th Ward (1998-2002), and in campus ministry at Rochester Institute of Technology (2002-04). His home parish is St. Monica in Rochester.
Deacon William F. Schmitz said he followed news of the permanent diaconate "right from the first whisper" that he read in Catholic publications.
Brought up in a faith-filled background, Deacon Schmitz attended Holy Apostles School, Nazareth Model School, Blessed Sacrament School, Rochester; Sacred Heart Mission Seminary in Girard, Pa.; Aquinas Institute, Rochester; and St. Bonaventure University.
After studying at St. Bonaventure, Deacon Schmitz entered the U.S. Army. During a military career that included nine years of active duty, he spent time in Germany as a cryptolinguist from 1956-58 and 1960-63. As part of his service, he earned bachelor’s degrees in Polish and German at Georgetown University and studied Polish in Army Language School for a year.
When he was discharged from the Army, one of his friends helped get him an administrative job with Xerox in Washington, D.C. He became a manager in administration and human resources, retiring after 31½ years in 1998.
He is currently unassigned and his home parish is Christ the King, which is part of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Irondequoit. He and his wife, Erika, have three children and eight grandchildren.
After ordination he served at the parishes of St. Leo in Hilton, St. Andrew in Rochester and Our Mother of Sorrows in Greece.
He helped establish St. Stephen’s Diaconal Community Association and has been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1967, serving in various leadership positions within the organization.
At several parishes where he served, he helped establish St. Vincent de Paul societies, which aid those in need.
"My favorite part of being a deacon is to be able to keep an eye out for and help people who are in need," Deacon Schmitz said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Deacon Conrado Mercado, who now resides in Puerto Rico, also is celebrating his 25th anniversary of ordination but could not be reached for comment.