How valuable is a permanent deacon to the parish and community at large? Extremely, as the ministry of recently ordained deacons in the Southern Tier would indicate.
As part of their parish duties, deacons assist the priest at Sunday Masses and also are available to preside at weddings, funerals and baptisms. However, it’s apparent that their good works extend much further.
A good starting example would be Deacon Robert Colomaio, of St. Mary Parish in Bath, who was the lone Tier resident to be ordained as a deacon by Bishop Matthew H. Clark on May 30 at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. He’s the justice-and-peace ministry director for Catholic Charities of Steuben County and a team member of the nutrition outreach and education program.
Also active at Catholic Charities of Steuben County is Deacon Dan Williams, ordained in 2007, who serves the agency as parish social-ministry coordinator. He’s also highly involved in rural-ministry leadership efforts throughout the diocese. And, while serving as pastoral minister for his home parish of St. Gabriel in Hammondsport, Deacon Williams originated the idea of Joseph’s Hammer, a handiwork ministry that began in 2004 and provides volunteer home repair and other services for people in need. Deacon Williams currently holds sacramental duties at St. Stanislaus Church in Bradford and St. Joseph Church in Campbell.
Deacon Michael Donovan (2008) hails from Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes in Tioga County. Deacon Donovan joined the parishes’ pastoral staff this summer in a part-time position as a pastoral associate, serving as the pastoral contact person for St. John the Evangelist Church in Newark Valley. Some of Deacon Donovan’s other ministries in recent years have included hospice duty and a longtime volunteer role with Tioga County Rural Ministry.
Relatively new to the Southern Tier is Deacon Al Pacete, a 2008 classmate of Deacon Donovan’s, who moved in 2007 from Rochester to Elmira to become full-time chaplain at Elmira Correctional Facility. Deacon Pacete also serves as parish deacon for Elmira’s Christ the Redeemer Parish (Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Casimir and St. Charles Borromeo churches) where he is highly involved in music ministry.
Deacon David LaFortune (2005) represents several connections to the diaconate. In June he became pastoral administrator at St. Mary in Bath, replacing Deacon Raymond Defendorf, a 1982 member of the original class of diocesan permanent deacons who has retired from parish ministry. Deacon LaFortune comes to Bath from Schuyler Catholic Community, where he has served alongside two other recently ordained deacons: Deacon Dan Pavlina and Deacon Rick Roy, both from the Class of 2003.