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Sunday, 11 July 2021 17:26

Six permanent deacons ordained by Bishop Paprocki

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For five to six years, six men from across the diocese have been studying, praying, learning, and preparing for a new vocation in their life, the permanent diaconate. These men, from all corners of our diocese, have families, different career backgrounds, and are a wide range of different ages, however, they all have one thing in common: their passionate love for Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church, and strong desire to minister to people in a new way, through the diaconate.

On June 26, these six men were ordained to the permanent diaconate by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield. Catholic Times features their biographies and asked each of them the same two questions. Please pray for these men as they start their new ministry and vocation in our parishes.

Adam Cox

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Diaconate assignment:
Mother of Perpetual Help, Maryville

Home parish:
Mother of Perpetual Help, Maryville

Wife, Jennifer; two children

Current occupation:
Heating and air service technician

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

“It is hard to say what I most look forward to, as this entire journey has been constantly changing. I have already been active in my local community with various projects to help those in need but if one event is something that I will look forward to, it may be my first Easter Vigil as a deacon or my first baptism.”

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“When I started this journey, it seemed like ordination would never get here, but now the time is drawing near. The end of diaconate formation in the classroom is just the end of the chapter but not the end of the story. I still have many years ahead of me, and I must remain open to whatever God calls me to do. I’m excited to see where I am a year from now and see how much more God helps me to grow.”

Michael Ross Halbrook

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Diaconate assignment:
St. Elizabeth, Granite City

Home parish:
Holy Family, Granite City

Wife, Suzanne; four children

Current occupation:
Consulting leader at Adobe

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

“I’m looking forward to continuing to deepen my service to God’s people, the Church, and being available as a minister of charity. I know that everything we’ve been growing into while in formation will take on a whole new dimension with the grace of holy orders, and I’m eager to see the ways that God surprises me both in the people and ministries that He puts in front of me, and in the way that the grace of the sacrament helps me in new ways in ministry.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing a lot of what I’ve started to do in the parish as it relates to helping inspire and lead the parishioners in deepening and reimagining our catechetical and faith formation efforts, and in turning our faith into action outward into our city as evangelists and servants.”

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“First, the sacrifices that we’ve made as a family, and all of the support that Suzanne has given and the patience (and support and encouragement) that my boys have shown, as well as our whole extended family. She jokes that I will have spent close to 60 weekends away in formation, and she’s looking forward to leaving me home with the boys for 60 weekends over the next few years. I know that she deserves it!

“Second, the brotherhood that has formed, both with my brother candidates with whom we’re approaching ordination together, as well as the other men who have been part of our class and our lives and ministry through the years. There are more than a handful of men who have come and gone, and we’ve each made a mark on each other’s character as men. I know that I’ve grown because of their friendship and influence. We’ve also grown through the challenges that the devil has put in each of our paths through formation, and in the losses that we’ve experienced along the way in our families and personal lives.

“Third, an immensely deep sense of gratitude — everyone from Deacon Greg Maynerich and his staff at the Villa Maria who make a home for us a weekend each month; to the people of the diocese whose selfless giving make the place and the formation program possible; to Deacon Dave Sorrell (director of the Office for the Diaconate); to Father Brian Alford and Msgr. David Hoefler, our formation team; to the amazing professors that St. Meinrad Seminary sends in from across the country. It’s just an overwhelming sense of gratitude for what God has weaved together for us as we’ve been formed and the way that God has used formation as a way to help me grow into a better man and a more intentional servant.”

Robert Sgambelluri

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Diaconate assignment:
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield

Home parish:
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield

Wife, Jan; three children

Retired from the Illinois State Police

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

I look forward to serving in a parish, but also finding ways to reach out to those we don’t see at church — to listen to their stories and invite them to the healing offered through word, sacrament, and the community of the Church. I look forward to accompanying others through difficult moments in life’s journey, and watching God work through all of us.” 

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“Everything that has happened over the past years of formation — academic studies, prayer, spiritual direction, parish service — all leads to the truth of our faith: the one God who created all things loves us, became one with us in suffering and death, and invites us to follow to eternal life. Just as the love of a parent or grandparent can inspire us to love others more deeply, God’s love inspires us to live no longer for ourselves, but for Christ in the Church. We live out this love in our relationships with our family and others. The ministry of the diaconate is just a particular way to live this love, but each of our unique life situations are an opportunity to be the servant Christ for others. There are life-long promises we make at ordination, yet, paradoxically, there is joy in surrender, there is freedom in ‘letting go and letting God.’”  

Joseph John Zagorski

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Diaconate assignment:
St. Cecilia, Glen Carbon

Home parish:
Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Collinsville

Wife, Kimberly

Current occupation:
Electrician

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

“I am looking forward to what God has been preparing me to do, serve others. I feel the joy of wisdom and understanding that has been building up in me as God has prepared me through my formation to be His servant. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and God given graces I received at the sacraments of my youth, God has prepared me with the extra armor I will need to guide and aid others.”

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“The main thought that goes through my mind is ‘Lord, be with me as I take my next step. Make sure and help me to do the right thing.’ Looking back on the years that have led me to my ordination, I can see the hands and feet of Christ that has helped guide and lead me to where I am today. He has much love for us, and I can feel the joy. I cannot wait to share it.”

Bruce Scott

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Diaconate assignment:
St. Mary, Paris

Home parish:
St. Mary, Paris

Widower (Joy); three children

Current occupation:
Sleep tech

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

“During this discernment over past six years, I have learned a lot about God and the Catholic Church, but I have learned even more about myself and my relationship to God and the Church. I look forward to bringing that journey with me to those I will meet in the parishes and in the communities I am assigned to serve. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to work with the many faithful in the parishes and with those who are struggling to find their relationship with God.” 

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“I can’t believe how much my life has changed over the past six years. There have been many tragedies beginning with the death of my wife, Joy, and recently my mother. But there have also been many blessings, the brothers and their wives that I have been privileged to be on this journey with, the faith formation and being able to find ways to put that into action, and the great generosity of those who have provided me with this opportunity. It has been life changing.” 

Dennis Holbrook

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Diaconate assignment:
St. Francis Solanus, Quincy

Home parish:
St. Francis Solanus, Quincy 

Wife, Pat; three children (one deceased)

Current occupation:
Service Manager, Awerkamp Machine Co.

What are you looking forward to as a deacon?

“What I look forward most about becoming a deacon will be ministering to those who are hurting. During the illness and death of our daughter Allison, we felt the love of Christ through so many wonderful people. I want to answer the call and give back what God has so graciously given me.”

When you look back over the past several years to now your ordination, what goes through your mind?

“Looking back over the last six years of formation and now to ordination, I feel a sense that the journey of servanthood with our Risen Lord has only begun, and that He will continue to guide me and form me for the rest of my life. God’s grace is forever abundant, and we are to share that gift with others in a life of service.”  

Thinking about becoming a deacon? Do you know someone who would make a good deacon?

“My advice to men is pray and discern,” said Deacon Dave Sorrell, director of the Office for the Diaconate. “I know there are many men discerning a call to vocation. I simply ask them to continue their prayer of discernment if God is calling them to a vocation as permanent deacon.” 

Deacon Sorrell also says that in addition to prayer and perhaps most importantly, men should include their wife and family in their prayer and have an open and candid discussion. They should also consult their pastor and if a deacon is ministering in the parish, seek him out as well. The pastor and deacon will be most helpful in the discernment process. The deacon and wife will be very helpful in identifying the blessings and challenges of formation and ordained life. 

For more information, go to dio.org/diaconate.

You may contact Deacon Sorrell directly at .