Cardinal Wuerl Ordains 11 Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, ordained eleven men as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington at a Mass of Ordination today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The new deacons come from a variety of backgrounds, and include several who have retired from the armed forces, a medicinal chemist for the National Institutes of Health, a middle school religion teacher, and two employees of the United States Postal Service.

The men completed almost five years of theological study and prayer in preparation for ordination. Deacons in the Catholic Church are ordained for a ministry that reflects three aspects: Word, Sacrament, and Charity. The new deacons will now receive from Cardinal Wuerl a parish assignment and an assignment to a particular ministry of charity or social justice in the archdiocese. In their ministry, they will proclaim the Gospel, preach, lead the faithful in prayer, baptize, distribute the Eucharist, witness marriages, preside at funerals, and assist those in need. The permanent diaconate is an ancient role in the Catholic Church which fell out of use after the fifth century, but was restored in the late 1960s after the Second Vatican Council.

“How appropriate are these reflections since the Church Universal is in the wake of two synods celebrating marriage, the challenges it faces and the beautiful reality it is, and, at the same time, is preparing for a synod on young people in the Church,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. “Your ordination to the ministry of service recognizes in your own life the blessing of marriage and the challenge of introducing young people to the Gospel. Your service now will be directed to an even wider family – the Church.” 

The cardinal reflected on Pope Francis’ visit to Washington in 2015 and the Mass of Canonization for Junípero Serra on the East Portico of the basilica. Calling Saint Junípero Serra a model of service, the cardinal spoke of how the Holy Father has highlighted the urgency in the Church today to reach out to those who have drifted away from the practice of the faith. “This ordination is also taking place in an age of renewed focus on our Catholic identity and in a culture that questions it – even challenges it. How appropriate that this ordination would take place on the Solemnity of John the Baptist, who was both a herald of the Good News and a witness – one who offered his life – to the truth of the Gospel.” 

“Our Catholic identity, even when challenged, should remain for us a source of conviction and pride,” said the cardinal. “We recognize that as we open ourselves to life in the Spirit radiating fully Christ’s love and truth we can also bring joy to a world that so desperately needs God.” Just as the first deacons of the Church possessed a generosity of heart and a love of Christ and his Church which allowed them to work gladly and willingly with the Apostles, the same willingness to serve – openness to the Lord – are present in the men who have prepared for their ordination today, the cardinal said. He encouraged them to carry out their ministry in joy and to be eager to serve, “May you always carry in your heart the zeal of this ordination in which, in a very special way, you become one with Christ.”

“May the Holy Spirit who consecrates all the baptized, and who has further blessed you who are to be ordained deacons, continue to inspire you to service, enrich your liturgical ministry, deepen your life of faith and help you as you, through your ministry, do whatever it takes to build up the whole Body of Christ,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily. 

After the homily, during the ordination rite, the men made a promise of obedience to the archbishop and to his successors, and received a stole, worn over the left shoulder to symbolize that the right arm is always free to help others; a vestment called a dalmatic; and the book of the Gospels, a sign that they are to proclaim the word of God. Deacons may be married when ordained but those who are not married take a vow of celibacy.

Brief biographies of the eleven new permanent deacons of the Archdiocese of Washington are below:

Louis J. Brune, III is a member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rockville. Lou and his wife Michelle have been married 28 years and have two children. He has been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for the past 19 years. Lou is a retired U.S. Army Colonel and currently serves as Chief, Workforce Services Division, at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Lou has served in a number of ministries at St. Mary’s parish and has assisted on a mission trip with St. Paul’s Clinic in Honduras. Last summer, Lou volunteered with the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds, Md., serving incarcerated adults.

Raul Calvo is a member of Mother Seton Parish in Germantown. Raul has been married to his wife Christine for 30 years and they have three daughters. Raul is involved in several parish ministries, including RCIA (for both Spanish and English communities), St. Vincent de Paul Society and prison ministry at Clarksburg. Raul works as a Medicinal Chemist at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

William Carter has been a parishioner of Jesus the Divine Word in Huntingtown for over 14 years where he has served in a wide variety of ministries including RCIA, bible study, the men’s group, mission trips and in liturgy. He is a perpetually professed member of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. He and his wife Diane are both New York natives and have been married for 21 years and have three children. William is a graduate of Hofstra University, the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University and the Defense Language Institute. He is a former commissioned officer of the United States Navy and previously served as an enlisted foreign language specialist in Russian and Spanish.  He currently works as an information security professional for Northrop Grumman. Along with fellow ordinand Juan Ortiz, William served as co-class leader of his diaconal formation class.

John Class is a member of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Bethesda. John and his wife Marge have been married for 30 years and have three children and three grandchildren. John has been involved in several parish ministries to include guiding and teaching various levels of religious education, as well as serving as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. He has also served on the Parish Council and Liturgy Committee. John continues his hospital ministry at Adventist HealthCare – Shady Grove Medical Center. John is a retired Navy Healthcare Administrator and currently is the Chief Operating Officer at AMSUS a medical association.

Paul Fagan is a member of Jesus the Good Shepherd parish in Owings. Paul is married to Sonia, his wife of 27 years; they have three daughters and a son. Paul is involved in several parish ministries, including the youth ministry, where he has been an integral part of the summer mission trip program, as well as serving as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Paul is a 2nd degree member of the Knights of Columbus and an active member of the Jesus the Good Shepherd Men’s Club. Paul has been with the United States Postal Service for over 35 years.

Paul Koester is a member of St. John the Evangelist parish in Clinton. Paul and his wife Janet have been married 20 years and they have a daughter. Paul is involved in several parish ministries, including serving as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. He has served on the Parish Council and his director of the parish’s altar server formation training program. Paul also is involved as a substitute teacher with the parish religious education program, and assists with the sacramental preparation programs for First Communion and Confirmation, as well as for RCIA. Paul is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. Paul is currently employed as a contractor for the Air Force Medical Support Agency, and serves part time as the Comptroller for the Air Force Reserve at Dover AFB Delaware.

Jim Munno is a member of St. Mary of the Mills parish in Laurel. He and his wife Anita have been married for almost 34 years and they have two adult sons. Jim’s involvement in parish life includes many years of serving as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, RCIA catechesis & adult faith enrichment activities, as well as youth ministry. Jim is member of the Knights of Columbus and works full time as an Engineering Manager and Director of Federal Programs for a small technology company in Columbia, Md.

Nguyen Nguyen is a member of Our Lady of Vietnam in Silver Spring. Nguyen is married to Van Dang his wife of 35 years, and they have two sons. Nguyen is involved in several parish ministries, including serving as the clerk of the Pastoral Council, coordinator for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and a conductor of the parish choir. Nguyen works for the United States Postal Service.

Juan Ortiz is a member of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Lexington Park. Juan and his wife Damaritza have been married for 26 years and they have three children. Juan is involved in several parish ministries, including Baptism preparation, Marriage preparation, RCIA catechist, as well as serving as an Instituted Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Juan is a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. He and Damaritza are also area servant leaders for the Spanish speaking Families in Christ Jesus Community in Southern Maryland. Juan is a senior systems engineer at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Joseph Vavrus is a member of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church in Leonardtown. He and his wife Debra have been married nineteen years and have three daughters. Joseph is involved in many parish ministries, including communion for the sick and homebound. He has served on the Parish Pastoral Council for six years, as well as a Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Joseph is a 4th Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and is a retired member of the United States Army. Joseph is currently a middle school religion teacher at Father Andrew White, S.J. School in Leonardtown as well as the Head Sailing Coach at St. Mary’s Ryken High School.

Tim Wolfkill is a member of St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in Oxon Hill. Tim and his wife Teresa “Lynn” have been married for thirty-five years and they have one married daughter who has a one-year old daughter. Tim is involved in parish ministries serving as the Director of Religious Education and catechist, as well as an Acolyte and Lector. Tim is a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus and 3rd Degree Council Past Grand Knight. Tim also serves as an Acolyte and Master of Ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Tim is a retired U.S. Navy Officer, having served 32 years of active duty and is employed as a civil service employee of the U.S. Department of Defense at the Pentagon.