Three Rochester residents, along with one each from Elmira, Owego and Sodus and a seminarian in Illinois make up the 2008 class of deacons for the Diocese of Rochester.
Bishop Matthew H. Clark will ordain these seven men during a Mass on Saturday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester. Jose Berrios, Bienvenido DeJesus, Michael Donovan, David Hudzinski, Edward Kohlmeier and Al Pacete will be ordained to the permanent diaconate, and Brian Carpenter — who is scheduled for ordination to the diocesan priesthood in 2009 — will be ordained a transitional deacon.
Berrios, 56, is a native of Puerto Rico who moved to Rochester in 1996. He met his wife of 31 years, Candy, at a charismatic retreat — and it also was during a charismatic retreat that Berrios first felt the call to church service.
“It was in the charismatic renewal where I found the love of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and the reason for me to say no to the empty, purposeless life I was living,” he said.
An electrical engineer, he has worked for Xerox Corp. for 29 years. Berrios and his wife have three children; their first grandchild was due in late April. The couple is active at Rochester’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in such areas as lectoring, religious education, music ministry, eucharistic ministry and charismatic praying groups.
DeJesus, 58, is a good friend of Berrios and is likewise a native of Puerto Rico. He moved to Rochester in 1983 and has been a bilingual math teacher in the city for 24 years, currently teaching at Monroe High School.
DeJesus has served Rochester’s Our Lady of the Americas Parish in such roles as commentator, lector, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, fundraising and hospice/hospital/home visitor. His field work has been at Rochester General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center and St. Monica Church.
“I am sure that God brought me from Puerto Rico in order to assist my community,” he said.
He and his wife of 34 years, Priscila, have two children and four grandchildren. DeJesus noted that his ordination will fulfill his late mother’s desire to see him pursue a life of church ministry.
Donovan, 60, hails from Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Tioga County and is a longtime volunteer with Tioga County Rural Ministry. For the last two years he has done field work with Lourdes Hospice and Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga. He added that he enjoys visiting shut-ins, “helping to keep their homes safe and accessible” through his skills as an electrician, carpenter and plumber.
He spent 20 years in the military, serving in Vietnam with the Marines in the late 1960s. He retired from Lucent Technologies in 2001 after a 35-year career, and he and his wife of nearly 33 years, Linda, have lived in Owego since 1983. They have two children and three grandchildren.
“The diaconate formation has been an incredible journey. There are four dimensions in formation — human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. I believe I have grown in all these areas,” Donovan said.
The call to the diaconate came as “quite a surprise” for Hudzinski, 54, who said he had planned to start relaxing a bit more upon turning 50. Then, while traveling one weekend, “the (Holy) Spirit hit like a ton of bricks.”
Hudzinski belongs to Rochester’s St. Boniface Parish and has done field work at Rochester Psychiatric Center, Monroe County Jail and Correctional Facility, and Rochester’s City West parishes. He and his wife of 33 years, Amy, have four children and two grandchildren. He has been a registered nurse for 34 years and is currently employed by Unity Health System.
“It has been quite a ride,” Hudzinski said of his diaconal formation. “I have been physically, mentally and emotionally challenged. One thing that I haven’t had challenged was my faith. That has just grown, day after day.”
Kohlmeier, 56, belongs to the three-church cluster of Church of the Epiphany, Sodus; St. Rose, Sodus Point; and St. Mary of the Lake, Ontario. His field work has been with Heritage Christian Homes, Rochester General Hospital and the University of Rochester’s Newman Community. He works at the U of R as a microbiology-lab technologist and education coordinator.
Kohlmeier and his wife of 24 years, Nancy, have one son. His brother, Charles, also is a diocesan permanent deacon.
“I’ve always wanted to learn more about my faith, and this is another way to pursue it. I don’t necessarily have to go into the diaconate to do it, but I also wanted to serve the people as well,” Kohlmeier said, adding that he hopes the bulk of his diaconal service will be in one-on-one ministry. “I think that’s where my gift is.”
Pacete, 51, is originally from the Philippines and came to the United States nearly 30 years ago. He and his wife, Mesina, were married at Rochester’s Church of the Annunciation in 1990 and quickly got involved in such areas as pastoral, music and youth ministry. They moved to Elmira last year — when he became a full-time paid chaplain at Elmira Correctional Facility — and now belong to the Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Casimir/St. Charles Borromeo cluster.
“I never imagined in my life to be in this environment,” he said of prison ministry. “But that’s how God works. I prayed for comfort and I got this. As a result, I learned to be comfortable.”
Pacete added that many people at Annunciation had encouraged him to pursue the diaconate.
“I am forever grateful for their unrelenting prayers and support,” he said.
Carpenter, 32, attended Penfield’s St. Joseph Parish and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1994. After his 1998 graduation from the University of Notre Dame, he worked as a computer consultant; did a volunteer year in New York City at a soup kitchen; attended Moreau Seminary at Notre Dame; then worked for Catholic Network of Volunteer Services and Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.
In the Rochester Diocese he has served at the parishes of St. Paul in Webster, Peace of Christ in Rochester and St. Mary in Canandaigua. Carpenter will complete studies at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago next year, prior to his priestly ordination at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“I cannot quite explain it, as I am definitely making less money and living a much simpler lifestyle than I did in the past, but I am so much happier now,” he remarked.