By Dave Jolivet

FALL RIVER — A five-year formation process will bear fruit for 15 diocesan men on May 20 when Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V. ordains them as Permanent Deacons for the diocese.

The ordination will take place within the context of Holy Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral at 11 a.m. This will be the tenth graduation class of permanent deacons in diocesan history. There will be limited seats available to the public.

The process began in March of 2018 with an aspirancy phase, where potential candidates, and their wives, if married, were introduced to a deeper knowledge of theology, spirituality, and the diaconate ministry. They were led to a more attentive discernment of their calling.

Those candidates who continued the formation process attended classes for four years, twice a week.

This tenth class had arguably the most difficult formation path because of the COVID pandemic that shook the world in 2020.

Father Robert Oliveira, co-director of the diocesan Office of the Permanent Diaconate told The Anchor, “Fifteen men began what seemed to them at the time a long and seemingly impossible journey, the road to permanent diaconate. How could they possibly fulfill all the expectations and requirements of a five-year process of formation? Balancing family life, work obligations and now evening classes, workshops, interviews, assessments, evaluations, ministerial service projects and the added challenge of confronting a worldwide pandemic, climbing the mountain of diaconate service seemed just impossible! 

“But these faithful men have climbed the mountain. Soon as permanent deacons they will be asked to return to the valley of service and face new demands as ordained ministers of word, liturgy and charity. Not even COVID could dispirit them. Thanks to dedicated resource persons who shared their theological, spiritual and personal insights, and yes, even thanks to Zoom, these men grew not only in theological knowledge but in wisdom of heart and love of the Lord and of love and respect for each other. Their journey was more than an individual effort but was an adventure of companionship. Open to God’s spirit, living a faith-filled friendship with the Lord, they listened and have boldly said: “I will follow You Lord!” They listened and discerned by being there for each other.  They listened and discerned, through the support of spouse and family. They listened and discerned by hearing the voices of those they served who reaffirmed the gifts and treasures they saw in them.”  

“We were fortunate that when the pandemic struck, we already had the technology to broadcast online since we recorded all sessions and post them on our website for class review and so that others can take the classes for CEU credit as ongoing formation,” added co-director Deacon Frank Lucca.

Lucca also told The Anchor that he was saddened that the men didn’t have as much personal interaction as prior classes, but they still managed to form and maintain a strong bond and brotherhood.

Areas of diaconal ministry are:

— Ministry of the Word, including teaching religious education for adults and youth; proclaiming the Gospel during Mass; delivering homilies; leading baptismal instructions for parents.

— Ministry of Sacrament, including serving as deacon at the Eucharistic Liturgy, distributing Holy Communion at Mass and to the sick and homebound; celebrating Baptisms outside the Mass; leading funeral prayer services at the funeral home or cemetery; and serving as minister of Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

— Ministry of charity and justice, among which are visiting the hospitalized, persons with disabilities, incarcerated individuals, the elderly; and assisting in a number of Catholic social efforts.

“Their formation hasn’t ended,” said Father Oliveira. “The challenges they will face are many but as servants of word, liturgy and charity they will reecho the words of St. Peter ‘You know Lord that I love You’ and with a rich faith the sheep will be fed.” 

Brief biographies and photos of the diaconate class of 2023.

James “Gus” Adams is a parishioner St. Joseph Guardian of the Holy Family Parish in Falmouth. He is married to Lisa (Crago) Adams and they have 2 daughters and 1 son, where they reside in Falmouth. Adams works at St. John Paul ll School (Theology Teacher/ Campus Minister). When asked what ordination means to him, he answered, “Ordination will allow me to serve the people of our parish and be a bridge between the clergy and parishioners in the pews.”

Jeremias Carranza is a parishioner of Our Lady of Guadalupe St. James in New Bedford along with his wife Hisella Claribel (Guerra) Carranza and their 3 daughters and 1 son. They reside in New Bedford. He works for Atkore International System. To him, ordination means, “A commitment to God to serve my brothers.”

Richard Fish, a parishioner of Christ the King Parish, is married to Laureen Nicole (Ercha) Fish. They have 2 daughters and 1 son and they reside in Sandwich. Fish works for St. John Paul ll School (Director of Performing Arts). “Ordination is dear to me because it means that I give my life completely to Christ in service to His Church,” he said. 

David “Dave” Gaspar is a parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi in Swansea. He is married to Allison (Mello) Gaspar, and they have 2 daughters and 1 son, and they reside in Swansea. He works for Global Medical Device Quality Management. Ordination to him means, “Ordination is a grace, a gift from God. I joyfully look forward to making the difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters by sharing my faith, gifts, and talents through diaconal service. Sacred Scripture reminds us that Christ doesn’t ask for excuses; He asks for workers, generosity, and goodwill. Our Lord will take care of the rest since He doesn’t call the prepared; He prepares the called.” 

Tyrone Gonsalves, a parishioner of Corpus Christi in East Sandwich is married to Suzanne (George) Gonsalves. They have 1 daughter and reside in Plymouth; He works for Falmouth Public School (School Psychologist). “Ordination means serving the people of God wherever they may be in a manner that communicates the Gospel,” he shared.

Leonard Guyette is a parishioner of Corpus Christi, East Sandwich. He is married to Lynette (Bazzinotti) Guyette and they reside in East Sandwich. He is employed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Social Worker). Guyette said “Being ordered by Christ through His Church to serve His People.” 

Philip Koch, a parishioner of St. Joan of Arc in Orleans, is married to Susan (Rosengren) Koch. They have 3 daughters and reside in Eastham. He is retired. Ordination to him means, “It brings me to a new, closer relationship with Christ which involves a re-ordering of how I will serve Him in family, Church and the world, about which I am so excited.”  

David Laird is a parishioner of Christ the King in Mashpee. He is married to Kathleen (Lipp) Laird and they have 2 daughters and 1 son. They reside in Sandwich, and he works for Emcore Corporation (Senior Program Manager). “While there is indeed a lot of work involved over the course of five years, at the end of the day, Ordination is never earned, it is a blessing and a gift from God,” he said.  

Thomas Martin, a parishioner of Corpus Christi in East Sandwich, is married to Daneane (Carothers) Martin. They have 2 sons and reside in Sandwich. He works as a Corporate Pilot. “Ordination is an exciting time but only the beginning,” he said. “The next few years will be tough balancing work, family, and ministry but it is my hope that in a few years I will be able to retire from my regular job and dedicate myself to ministry full time, working and helping wherever the Church needs me. I do not know how I would have made it through the last four years of classes without the grace of our Lord and the support and prayers of not only my wife but all of those in the Church who have been praying for us the last few years.”    

Joseph Martino is a parishioner of St. John Neumann, East Freetown. He is married to Anne (Kristiansen) Martino and they have 1 daughter. They reside in Lakeville. He works at St. Julie Billiart Parish in Dartmouth (Youth Minister).  To him, “Being ordained a Deacon is a special blessing, not just for me but for all the incredible people in my life who carried me along the way.” 

Americo Miranda, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Westport, is married to Tina Marie (Vasconcellos) Miranda and they have 2 daughters. They reside in Fall River. He works at Espirito Santo School, Fall River (Vice Principal/Teacher). “To be able to serve God and His people with the joy of the Gospel,” he shared. 

John O’Brien is a parishioner of St. Mary, Mansfield. He is married to Janis (Wood) O’Brien and they have 2 daughters. They reside in Mansfield, and he is retired. For him, “Ordination is the culmination of an incredible journey of faith, with an amazing group of men, who are called to serve the Lord in a unique and special way.”  

David Roderick, a parishioner of Corpus Christi, East Sandwich, is married to Joanne (Creighton) Roderick, and they have 1 daughter. They reside in Sandwich. He works for Plymouth and Brockton Bus Company (Motor Coach Bus Driver). When asked what ordination means to him, he replied, “Ordination will give me the opportunity to be a servant in the Church, I feel Ordination is a relationship with God and people.”

Shawn Seybert is a parishioner of St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus, Attleboro. He is married to Sylvia (Osborne) Seybert and they have 3 sons. They reside in Attleboro. He works as a School Psychologist. For him, “Ordination is a gift of the Holy Spirit ushering in our role as servant to all God’s people.”

Scott Taveira, a parishioner of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, New Bedford and resides in Mattapoisett. He works for Afscme Council 93 (Staff Representative) & Aubertine-Lopes Funeral Home (Licensed Funeral Assistant). “Ordination means that I will be able to serve God and His people,” he said.