Some have turned their careers or hobbies into opportunities to serve. Three even took a trip to help deacons and their families in New Orleans with post-Hurricane Katrina recovery. All have had several chances to serve during their diaconal formation.
Now six candidates are scheduled to be ordained permanent deacons of the Diocese of Rochester at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 30, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester.
Tom Behe of Webster said after becoming active in his parish, Holy Trinity in Webster, he felt called to do more. That was when he pursued the diaconate. Behe went to New Orleans for two weeks during formation, where he did more spiritual ministry than hands-on helping.
“It was amazing how many people wanted to share their stories,” he said.
He also served at St. Paul Parish in Webster and at Rochester General Hospital.
Behe, 56, has been a mechanical engineer at Xerox for 32 years. He and his wife, Susan, have three children, one grandchild and a second on the way.
Jim Carra said deacons from his parish, St. Catherine of Siena in Mendon, and a parish retreat helped him hear his call to the permanent diaconate. During his diaconal formation, Carra served at Rochester General Hospital, Rochester Psychiatric Center, St. Monica Parish and in New Orleans.
Carra, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1968-71, has been the director of the Monroe County Veteran’s Service Agency for 16 years.
“I believe God has called me to minister to my fellow vets,” he said.
Carra, 60, lives in Perinton with his wife, Josephine; they have three children and two grandchildren.
Robert Colomaio enjoyed his diaconal placement with Catholic Charities of Steuben County so much that since September he has been director of the agency’s Justice and Peace Ministry, and a team member of the nutrition outreach and education program.
“That whole side of our community has been opened up to me,” he said.
Colomaio, 46, also served at Our Lady of the Valley in Hornell and at St. James Mercy Hospital and McAuley Manor.
He was a speech-language pathologist for 23 years. He and his wife, Pamela, are members of St. Mary Parish in Bath and have two daughters.
Dennis Donahue, who attends St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Auburn, said he will not forget his diaconal-formation experience at Northside Ministries in Syracuse, a meal and medical ministry run by the Conventual Franciscan Friars.
“I’ve never seen doctors so much enjoy doing medical stuff, because they weren’t bothered with any of the paperwork,” said Donahue, who works for the state Department of Labor.
During formation, Donahue also worked at Auburn Memorial Hospital and its assisted-living center, as well as at the Cornell Catholic Community.
He and his wife, Cindy, live in Union Springs and have four children and two grandchildren.
David Squilla, 54, a systems administrator for Eastman Kodak Co., said he had gotten progressively more involved at his parish, St. Lawrence in Greece, as athletic director, extraordinary minister of holy Communion and lector, but he felt called to do more. Then a coach asked if he had ever thought about becoming a deacon.
“That feeling that something was missing just disappeared,” Squilla said.
During his diaconal formation, Squilla was placed with St. Francis House Ministries, Bethany House, the Rochester Psychiatric Center and Blessed Sacrament Parish.
Squilla and his wife, Marlene, have three daughters and five grandchildren.
Craig Stratton said he realized he was called when he started praying with motorcyclists who have been in accidents and their families. This led him to a new career as a chaplain at Strong Hospital.
During diaconal formation, Stratton went to New Orleans and served at the University of Rochester Newman Center.
Stratton, 61, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in Spencerport, is a retired teacher and school-finance administrator, and has served 26 years in the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard. He and his wife, Shirley, have a son.