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Photo by James A. McBride

newdeacons-webAfter being vested with stole and dalmatic, the 10 men wait for Bishop Galante to present each of them with the Book of the Gospels.

On Saturday, May 21, in Glassboro, 10 men in the Camden Diocese were ordained as deacons, after completing six years of formation and readying themselves to be of service to God and the Catholic community.

Bishop Joseph A. Galante performed the Rite of Ordination to the Order of Deacon, at the 10:30 a.m. celebration at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Glassboro, calling on the new deacons to “help the bishop and his priests in the ministry of the word, of the altar, and of charity, showing themselves to be servants of all” by proclaiming the Gospel, administering the sacraments such as the Holy Eucharist and baptism, assisting at and blessing marriages, bringing Viaticum to the sick and dying, and conducting funeral rites.

“Now you are not only hearers of this Gospel but also its ministers,” Bishop Galante said.

“All of these men came into our program with significant experience in the secular business world as well service in parish ministries,” said Deacon Leo McBlain, director of the Diocesan Office of the Diaconate.

“In their six years of diaconate formation they have built on these competencies through increased knowledge of church and the development of good pastoral skills. I believe that these men are well prepared for the challenges and opportunities that they will now face as they begin their ministries as deacons.”

The ordination is “a humbling experience,” said Deacon Steven T. Theis of Mullica Hill.

For nine years prior to entering formation, Deacon Theis, 51, director of strategic development for an electric transmission and distribution company, with a wife and two sons, felt “a calling to do more with the church, and more with the faith.”

After speaking with diocesan priest, Father Anthony DiBardino, he was convinced God wanted him to enter the diaconate, so he set up a meeting with director of the Office of the Diaconate, Deacon Leo McBlain. “I had the feeling of needing to do more.”

The trials of formation for the past six years was mixed with personal trials: in January 2009 he was diagnosed with stage 4 head and neck cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment before being declared cancer free the next May.

In fact, this past weekend marked his ordination and first Mass as a deacon, but also his second anniversary of being cancer-free.

“Faith gets you through (anything),” he said. “Christ is with us. I know he and the Blessed Mother were with me.”

For Deacon Joseph Murphy, 58, being a deacon gives him the opportunity to “enter into people’s brokenness and help them heal.” As a retired Philadelphia police officer and detective for 33 years now living in Ocean City, and an expert on the 12-step program, Murphy will work in prisons and advise inmates on spirituality.

With a wife, four children, and 12 grandchildren, Deacon Murphy not only assisted at his first Mass on Sunday, but also baptized his granddaughter, Evan Clare, born to his son, Michael, and his wife Erin.

Deacon Arnaldo Santos, 41, has always felt a calling to help others, be it as a boy growing up in Puerto Rico, as a police officer in New Jersey and, now, as a deacon.

“I listened to, accepted, and lived the Gospel, and now have a great desire to share it,” he said.

After moving to Bridgeton at the age of 8 from Puerto Rico, with his mother and brothers, Santos was exposed to gang culture, a culture filled with drugs and violence. He credits his mother with instilling the Catholic faith in him.

“My mom planted the seeds for my faith. I am thankful for her, and for God. I want to teach my children (Anjelica, Arnaldo, Jr., and Lynn) the same.”

Working in law enforcement for almost 25 years for the state of New Jersey, the Bridgeton Police Department, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, in federal prisons, and with an FBI gang task force, Deacon Santos is dedicated to helping youth stay off the streets and embrace the Gospel.

He and his wife, Maribel, are co-founders of “Messengers of Peace and Daughters of Mary,” a youth ministry program at the Bridgeton parishes of St. Teresa of Avila and Immaculate Conception, that brought the faith to inner-city kids with a Catholic band, Bible study, praise and worship and pilgrimages to Catholic shrines.

Now, after the merging of St. Teresa with Immaculate Conception, and St. Michael, Cedarville, and its mission, St. Anthony, Port Norris; and St. Mary, Rosenhayn to create Parish of the Holy Cross, he hopes to bring the ministry to his new parish.

“I want to introduce Jesus’ ministry and mission to the youth, instead of having them hear of the gangs,” he said. “As well, I want to get families involved, in helping their youth stay away from trouble.”

He thanks his fellow deacons for their support and encouragement, along the way to the diaconate.

“They are my new family; we’re brothers in Christ.”

Most importantly, Deacon Santos sees an opportunity to bring to youth the Catholic faith, which was impressed upon him by his mother, and by the priests he served, while an altar boy at Immaculate Conception church.

“I’m returning to the altar,” he said.


The new deacons and their ministries

The newly ordained, with their parish and diocesan assignments, are:

Deacon Paul R. Bubeck, Sr., of Holy Trinity Parish, Margate, and Healthcare Ministries;

Deacon Lawrence S. Farmer, of St. Charles Borromeo, Sicklerville, and Diocesan Planning Office;

Deacon Kevin C. Heil, of St. Bridget’s University Parish, Glassboro, and Campus Ministry;

Deacon Joseph A. Kain, Sr., of Church of the Holy Family, Sewell, and Healthcare Ministries;

Deacon Joseph A. Murphy, of St. Joseph Church, Sea Isle City, and Prison Ministries;

Deacon Arnaldo A. Santos, of Parish of the Holy Cross, Bridgeton, and Youth Ministries;

Deacon William A. Slaven, of St. Andrew the Apostle Church, Gibbsboro, and Catholic Charities;

Deacon James O. Smith, of Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Glassboro, and Office of the Diaconate;

Deacon Steven T. Theis, of the Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill, and Healthcare Ministries and Diocesan Liturgies; and

Deacon Joseph H. Webb, of the Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, and Healthcare Ministries.

All assignments are effective May 31.

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