What do a retired Naval officer, an accountant, an electrician, a chimney sweep, a science teacher and a pastoral administrator have in common?
They all will be ordained permanent deacons at 10:30 a.m. June 1 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park, Rochester, during a Mass celebrated by Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark.
In addition to their undergraduate and graduate education, all of the deacons have completed graduate studies at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.
Herbert Bietry has worked since 1983 for Baker Commodities, where he is Rochester Division controller. His home parish is Church of the Holy Ghost, and he attended the parish school, as well as the former Cardinal Mooney High School and St. John Fisher College, where he studied accounting.
He said he has been involved with the church going back to his grammar school days, and stayed active over the years, but didn’t seriously consider the diaconate until several people suggested he look into it. For his diaconal field experience, he served at Bethany House in Rochester, Rochester General Hospital and at St. Agnes in Avon, St. Paul of the Cross on Honeoye Falls and St. Rose in Lima.
"It was a great experience," Bietry said. "These were smaller parishes, and you could feel the love and the neighborliness with the parishes in that cluster."
He and his wife, Patricia, live in Chili, where he served as a volunteer member of the Chili Fire Department from 1970-2011.
Mark Clark of Hornell is a teacher who worked at St. Ann School from 2002-12. His home parish is Hornell's Our Lady of the Valley, where he has been chairman of the pastoral council. He attended Empire State College and Grand Canyon University.
"I felt called to the diaconate because I wanted to further serve my community," Clark said. "The ministry that I have found drawn to is the assistance of those who are ill or dying, and to help the poor."
He and his wife, Joanne, have two children.
Douglas Farwell of Corning, owner of Sootbusters Chimney and Hearth, has been a chimney sweep and chimney and hearth contractor for 24 years.
Farwell, who attended Corning Community College, joined the Catholic Church in 1992 through St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads. Encouragement from parishioners and a trip to Rome in 2007 convinced him to learn more about the permanent diaconate.
"I finally had to quit talking and trying to convince myself that I was not meant for this ministry, but to start listening," Farwell said.
He is a volunteer chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital and Arnot-Ogden Hospital, both in Elmira, and a volunteer chaplain at Elmira Correctional Facility. He also has served at Catholic Charities in Elmira and Ss. Isidore and Maria Torribia Parish in Addison, Bradford and Campbell.
He and his wife, Patti, have three daughters and two grandsons. He has been a member of the Horseheads Council 6158 Knights of Columbus since 1998, and a fourth-degree Knight since 2006.
David Kepler of Hilton works part time as a technician after retiring from General Motors as an electrician six years ago. His home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Spencerport.
He attended the former Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Brockport, Brockport Central High School, and SUNY Geneseo and Rochester Institute of Technology.
He served with Catholic Family Center, Rochester General Hospital and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish for his diaconal field experience. He has been active with his parish, including serving as a catechist and social-ministry committee member for 20 years. He coached with Hilton-Parma Recreation from 1994-2005 and prepared taxes with Empire Justice’s C.A.S.H. program from 2005-12, served with the Peace Corps from 1983-84 and joined the Knights of Columbus in 1998. He and his wife, Robin, have two children.
Robert Lee is an acquisition manager for the Department of Veteran Affairs and works out of the VA Medical Center in Syracuse. He retired as a Navy captain in January 2004 and moved back to upstate New York from Northern Virginia in 2008. He served around the world, principally in the submarine force, and he served many years at the Pentagon as a resource and acquisition manager.
His home parish is Blessed Trinity Community in Wolcott. He attended Oswego High School, Fredonia State, U.S. Naval Post-Graduate School, Old Dominion University, the University of Virginia, Duke University and Harvard University.
He said he had felt called by God as a young man but didn’t answer the call then.
"It appears that God never stopped calling me so when I came home from 30 years in the Navy I determined this time to answer," Lee said.
During his diaconal field experience, Lee served at Five Points Correctional Facility, a food shelter in Newark, a clothing shelter in Wolcott, the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua and at Community of the Blessed Trinity.
He and his wife, Jill, have two children.
William Rabjohn grew up in a strongly Presbyterian home and helped found an evangelical church in his living room. Yet when he decided to enter seminary with a goal of becoming an ordained minister, his life took a major turn.
"The more I studied the Catholic faith, the more I fell in love with it," said Rabjohn, who decided to convert to Catholicism. "I began to see the fullness of grace in the Catholic Church. I began to have a deep and personal relationship with God."
Rabjohn has been pastoral administrator of St. Pius Tenth Parish in Chili since 2009 and was the parish's senior pastoral associate for seven years prior. He was business manager of his home parish, St. Mary in Scottsville, for a year and was director of operations for a manufacturing plant before that. He attended Alfred State University, Utica College and Northeastern Seminary.
During his diaconal formation, he served as a hospice chaplain with Visiting Nurse Service. He also is an avid bagpiper who plays at events and competitions. He and his wife, Linda, have two children.
Richard Rall of Webster has been actively involved with various ministries at St. Rita Parish and currently provides assistance as needed to Immaculate Conception Church in Rochester.
He is a secondary science teacher at Gates Chili Middle School and was previously a senior environmental scientist and geologist who worked at a variety of companies and at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
His home parish is St. Rita, and he has attended St. John Fisher College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and SUNY College at Cortland.
He was assigned to Heritage Christian Services, hospice services through Lifespan and Immaculate Conception Church for his diaconal field experience. He has been a Knight of Columbus since 2004 and a Cursillista since 2003.
He and his wife, Bernadette, have three children.
This article was corrected on April 30, 2013.