Ten men to be ordained as transitional deacons on May 3
Archbishop Robert J. Carlson is expected to ordain 10 men to the transitional diaconate at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 3, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End. They are: Peter Fonseca, Daniel Kavanagh, David Miloscia, Alexander Nord, Kent Pollman, Zachary Povis and Edward Voltz, to be ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and Brothers Bartholomew Anokwute, Macarius Etim, and Blase Faimega, to be ordained for the Society of Our Mother of Peace.
Transitional deacons are seminarians in their last year of preparation for ordination to the priesthood. A transitional deacon may baptize, distribute Communion, witness marriages and lead rites for Christian burial.
Deacon Fonseca's home parish is St. Anselm in Creve Coeur. A graduate of St. Louis Priory School, he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College Seminary. He served supervised ministry at St. Norbert, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and St. Elizabeth Mother of John the Baptist.
"The Catholic faith has always been important to me. From my earliest years, attending daily Mass with my family, I have been interested in the priesthood, but it was not until the end of my junior year of high school that I began to sense a call to the priesthood. While, at the time, I thought I had my life planned out in a different way, the call was so strong I could not ignore it. The more I tried to push away the idea of becoming a priest, the stronger the call became. Unable to ignore God's call any longer, I reached out to Fr. Bede Price, OSB, who had been my advisor at Priory, and he directed me toward the seminary. Entering the seminary and giving myself over to the formation process, I continued to grow in my love of Christ and His Church. I came to realize God had created me for a plan and following His will in my life was what was going to make me truly happy. After only a short time in the seminary, I began to realize very clearly that God was calling me to be a priest and I desired to live out that calling."
Deacon Kavanagh's home parish is Our Lady of Lourdes in Washington. A graduate of Markham District High School in Toronto, he earned a bachelor's degree in finance in business administration from King's University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada, and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Kenrick Seminary through the pre-theology program. He served supervised ministry at St. James the Greater, Assumption in Mattese, St. Cletus, St. Andrew, St. Francis of Assisi Deaf Catholic Church (Landover Hills, Md.) and St. Joseph in Clayton. He also teaches sophomore theology at CBC High School.
"My family moved to Washington in 2005 for my father's job, and I followed in 2008 after having finished my undergraduate degree in London, Ontario. When I arrived in the U.S., I had hoped to work as a health care administration officer in the U.S. Navy, but unfortunately I was denied due to health reasons. ... I ended up in a job where I would be recruiting civilian medical personnel to work at U.S. military hospitals. Over my year in this position, I sensed that, although I was very happy, there was something else that I was being called to. I began speaking more openly about faith with my co-workers, and I began to attend Mass once or twice during the week before going to the office. I could sense through my time in prayer that God was calling me to give seminary a try, even though I told myself that I didn't really even know much about seminary or the priesthood. Not even knowing what a vocation director was, I somehow ended up being pointed in the right direction to talk to the vocation director, who at the time was then-Msgr. (Edward) Rice. I am very grateful of how supportive he and the other seminarians were when I first showed up at the door to the vocations office six years ago. It is a true testament to me that when we place our trust in God, He will provide."
Deacon Miloscia's home parish is St. Joseph in Imperial. A graduate of Windsor High School in Imperial, he earned a degree in computer and electrical engineering technology from ITT Technical Institute and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College Seminary. He served supervised ministry at St. Paul, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne and Sacred Heart (Florissant).
"I first felt called to the priesthood when I was in kindergarten. I did not know why, but I felt very attracted to what the priest was doing when he celebrated Holy Mass. By the time I reached high school, I had nearly forgotten about that idea and looked instead into engineering. I graduated from ITT Technical Institute and found good employment in my field soon afterward. At the same time, I had grown in love of my Catholic faith: learning more, going to confession regularly and taking time to pray. At the time, I did not even really know what the seminary was, but thoughts of the priesthood began to resurface in my mind. It wasn't until the fall of 2006, when I met then-Archbishop Raymond Burke at my parish, that I considered visiting the seminary. ... I visited the seminary for an evening prayer with the college seminarians during Advent. That short visit had a profound effect on me. All of the unsettled feelings and vacillating of my heart ceased and I felt peace while at the seminary; as many seminarians have said, it felt like home. Later after the retreat with Archbishop Burke, I knew that God was calling me to discern at the seminary. I can honestly say that my years in the seminary have been the happiest of my life so far."
Deacon Nord's home parish is Incarnate Word in Chesterfield. A graduate of De Smet Jesuit High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., and a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Kenrick Seminary through the pre-theology program. He served supervised ministry at St. Monica, St. Gerard Majella, St. Stephen Protomartyr and St. Peter (Kirkwood).
"Although a lot of people asked me in high school if I was going to become a priest like my brother, (Father Aaron Nord) and I had participated in some of the vocation retreats, I did not have a desire to enter the seminary and did not think that God was asking me to enter. I went to Truman State University, which had an active Catholic Newman Center. After a couple of years of developing really good Catholic friendships, praying more in front of the tabernacle in the little chapel there, and taking some leadership roles, I was desiring not only to deepen my relationship with Jesus, but also that my friends would know and love God and His Church better. ... Eventually, I did receive a unique experience while at prayer during Holy Mass on a retreat. God spoke in a way that matched my desire to care for His people. ... I knew that this call had a certain priestly quality to it, but at that point my attention and desire had become rather focused on marriage as a possible vocation. ... That following summer before my final year at Truman, I was able to commit to going to daily Mass and an hour of adoration at Incarnate Word. By the end of that summer, it had become clear to me that I needed to enter the seminary to truly discern whether Jesus was asking me to care for my friends and for all His people as a priest. After formation and continued discernment, I am willing to lay down my life to care for His people as a deacon, and as God has begun this good work in me may He bring me to priestly ordination next year."
Deacon Pollman's home parish is Sacred Heart in Troy. A graduate of Troy Buchanan High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast/film from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Mo., and a bachelor's degree in philsophy from Kenrick Seminary through the pre-theology program. He served supervised ministry at St. Joseph (Josephville), St. Ferdinand, St. Mary Magdalen (south St. Louis), St. Joan of Arc and St. Richard.
"I went to see an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin with the youth group while I was still in high school. The lady who explained the shroud to us said that she thought I was called to the priesthood. Years later when I was working in Mexico, Mo., the sense of being called was greater than ever. After a few more people asking me about or encouraging me to consider the priesthood, I went on the archbishop's discernment retreat. I arrived late and did not want to go in the first place, but I went out of some sense that I needed to be open to God's will. ... I went to the chapel while they had 40 hours adoration and repeatedly asked then-Msgr. Rice (vocations director at the time) for an application. I went through the application process on weekends until I was ready to tell my co-workers at the radio station where I worked about my decision to enter seminary. Shortly after I entered the seminary, the same replica of the Shroud of Turin came to Kenrick and has been with me through all of my years in the seminary."
Deacon Povis' home parish is Holy Spirit in Maryland Heights. A graduate of De Smet Jesuit High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cardinal Glennon College Seminary and studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome. He served supervised ministry at St. Raphael and St. Joseph (Imperial).
"I was invited, in sixth grade, to participate in Kenrick-Glennon Days. I fell in love with the camp that year and also with the seminary, but did not, until several years later, consider the possibility that I might be called to serve as a priest. I continued to participate in the camp through the subsequent years and was inspired by the priests and seminarians I met to take my prayer life more seriously. ... By senior year, I was fairly certain I wanted to become a teacher, but didn't feel as sure about that choice as I would have liked to. That year, again during Kenrick-Glennon Days, someone described to me the seminary as a 'house of discernment.' That phrase struck me immediately. Being as unsure as I was about the rest of my life, a 'house of discernment' sounded like exactly what I needed. ... I entered the seminary the following year with the intention of thinking and praying over my vocation and told myself that I would stay for only two years unless it became evident to me that I was called to the priesthood. Needless to say, I found in myself a real and profound desire to serve our Lord and His Church as such. It later became clear to me that this was not only my desire, but the Lord's desire for me as well."
Deacon Voltz's home parish is Sacred Heart in Troy. A graduate of Orchard Park High School near Buffalo, N.Y., he earned a bachelor's degree in elementary and special education from State University of New York at Geneseo, N.Y., and a master's degree in theology with a specialization in catechetics, from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. He was a teacher in New York, and he served supervised ministry at Ascension (Chesterfield) and St. Luke the Evangelist.
"I was raised Catholic, but, I never had any desire growing up to be a priest. ... Ironically, I have to credit a Lutheran summer camp in Angola, N.Y. for a conversion in my spiritual life. I signed up to work at this residential camp for the sole reason that it would look good on a resume for my teaching career, and long story short, I met some people (who led) me to reflect on my beliefs about the person of Jesus Christ. ... In 2005, I pursued a master's degree in theology from Steubenville University. When I graduated, I told God I would do anything He wanted, as long as it wasn't the priesthood. Honestly, at that point, I would say that with all of my heart, I simply wanted to get married and have a family. I became a youth minister at Sacred Heart Parish in Troy. I count the four years I worked there as among the most blessed of my life. ... It was very difficult to leave, but I really became convinced that all of the people I loved so much would be more blessed if I was obedient to what the Holy Spirit was telling me. I ultimately felt God wanted me to stay in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, so I enrolled in the seminary here."
Society of Our Mother of Peace
Brother Bartholomew Anokwute
Brother Anokwute studied at Assumpta Minor Seminary Naze Imo state, Nigeria, and then had a two-year study in philosophy at Pope John Paul II Major Seminary in Awka, Nigeria. His community reassigned him to the United States, where he completed the required courses in philosophy at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
"My parents raised us in the Catholic faith and trained us in the discipline based on the fear of God. I was sent to the high school seminary, although it did not put into me the desire to become a priest. ... Two years after I finished high school, and through involvement with the Charismatic Renewal, I was drawn toward desiring to spend more time in prayer and reading spiritual books, most importantly the Scriptures. As I grew deeper in my spiritual life, I felt more and more a burning desire to dedicate myself to God. Over time, God lit into my heart the desire to serve Him as a priest. ... When it became obvious to me that God is inviting to this level of dedication to Him, I resigned to His holy will. I was admitted into my religious community in 2006. One of the things that attracted me to my community was the amount of time devoted to communion with God in prayer. So, in 2008, I began my philosophical study at Pope John Paul II Seminary. And after two years, I came to Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. My journey to toward God's calling in my life was and still is the fruit of an ardent desire for intimate relationship with God."
Brother Macarius Etim
Brother Etim studied at Queen of the Apostles Minor Seminary, Afaha-Obong, Abak, Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, and took philosophy at Pope John Paul II Major Seminary in Awka, Nigeria, before coming to the United States to continue studies at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
"I have been drawn to respond to the call to the priesthood since my childhood days, but the desire to be a religious priest started after I graduated from Queen of Apostles Minor Seminary, Afaha-Obong, Nigeria. After my graduation in 2000, I spent four years working at St. Jude's Parish, Port Harcourt Diocese, Nigeria as an associate catechist and personal assistant to my parish priest, Fr. Patrick Prunty, SPS. ... As I grew in faith and desire for God, ... I knew what God wanted me to do, but I let my inordinate attachment to having more days at home with my family and friends blind me. At a point during that year, I got the grace to seek nothing but God's will first. I said to myself, 'I will not reject God's will because of two day's home visit; what is that compared to God?' ... I wanted to do nothing but God's will and that was my driving force. As soon as I stepped into the gate of the community, my soul was flooded with an indescribable joy, happiness and peace. I knew then that my trial was from the devil seeking to stop me from answering God's call, and that God's grace helped me to overcome the devil and say 'Yes.'"
Brother Blase Faimega
Brother Faimega received a National Certificate in Education (NCE) from the College of Education Katsina-ala, Benue state Nigeria, a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Pope John Paul II Major Seminary in Awka, Nigeria, and a bachelor's degree in philosophy at Urbani University in Rome.
"I started experiencing an attraction to the priesthood at the age of 12. My initial inspiration came from my formal parish priest whom I admire so much, most especially the way he celebrated the Holy Eucharist and adored the Lord in the blessed sacrament. ... I had desired that one day I would serve Him, just as my parish priest did. I took the priest as my mentor so as to grow in my relationship with Christ. His goodness and exemplary life were a source of great encouragement to me in my vocation journey. When I graduated from the college, I started thinking seriously about my vocation. At that period the Servants of Charity were on a vocation rally in my parish. And that was the first time I came in contact with religious priests. It was at that point, I felt God was calling me to religious life. At that rally I met a friend who told me about my present community (The Society of Our Mother of Peace). I sent an application and after two weeks I received a call from the vocations director. He invited me for a two-week retreat which I did, and I was so impressed with the life most especially the prayer times and the community life. I finally joined the community a month later, and since then, I have been considering myself so privileged being a religious and hopefully a religious priest in the future."
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