Meet the newly ordained permanent deacons

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James E. Broom

Age: 61

First Mass: June 5 at St. Clare of Assisi Church, Ellisville

Family: wife, Sue; son, Michael; daughters, Kathleen, Sarah and Rachel

Secular career: account manager, CB Technologies, Inc.

Calling: About 15 years ago, I first felt a call to the diaconate. Over time the call became louder and, five years ago, I applied and was accepted. I prayed daily to know if this is where I should be. The answer was to continue my discernment and formation. I have loved every minute of my formation. I am looking forward to serving God and His Church.

Thomas A. Burke III

Age: 59

First Mass: June 5 at St. Cletus Church, St. Charles

Family: wife, Gail

Secular career: attorney

Calling: Through attending retreats, spending time before the Blessed Sacrament and particularly in praying the Rosary, my relationship with the Lord has been enhanced. Led by the prompting of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I asked a simple, direct, and life-changing question: “Jesus, what would you have me do?” My responding to the call to the diaconate has been the greatest gift to me and my family. I have learned with every great gift comes great responsibility. The prospect of imitating Christ the servant is a gift of a lifetime. I look forward to serving my new parish family at St. Cletus Church in St. Charles.

David P. Dille

Age: 64

First Mass: June 5 at Christ the King Church, University City

Family: wife, Karen; children, Sarah, Paul, Colleen and Claire

Secular career: regional sales manager, ABB Inc.

Calling: I converted to our faith in college. I made my Profession of Faith at the Easter Vigil during my senior year, and Karen and I were married the following summer. I quickly became active in parish and school life and that activity continues to be a source of strength today. I was inspired to become a deacon by our parish deacon, Ray Kiely. His example of joy in his ministry spoke volumes to me in my calling. He has been my
mentor, colleague and friend.

Donald J. Funke Jr.

Age: 62

First Mass: June 5 at St. Norbert Catholic Church, Florissant

Family: wife, Patricia; son, Jacob; daughter, Megan

Secular career: chief employee advocate at Client Services Inc.

Calling: I am truly grateful to God for His calling for me to be a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. It will be a privilege to serve others where they might need help. My life has been an awesome blessing from God, and to become ordained is truly amazing. Thank you to my wonderful family, especially my wife, Pat, who has walked with me every step.

Joseph A. Hartz

Age: 68

First Mass: June 4 at Sts. Joachim and Ann Church, St. Peters

Family: wife: Sherry; children, Stephanie, Nathalie, Candace and Joseph

Secular career: retired from Clayco

Calling: As milestones in life are completed, … we often reflect on past successes and failures and look for a new vision as we move forward. Having left my 60th birthday behind, I began to look to the future. In doing so, I asked the Holy Spirit to provide a purposeful existence to my senior years, and that they be fruitful. I was not expecting a call to the diaconate. With much dialogue, God convinced me that age is not a barrier to do His work, that His grace is sufficient for me, to let go of my insecurities and trust Him. With these responses, I quit arguing and placed myself in His providence. It was the best thing I ever did.

Ronald A. Holmes

Age: 61

First Mass: June 5 at St. Raphael the Archangel Church, St. Louis

Family: wife: Joyce; son, Charles, daughters: Julie and Lisa

Secular career: IT consultant

Calling: As a senior in high school, I developed a relationship with the Benedictine Monks in Pevely, (and) I began to explore and seriously consider a life as a priest. During college, I continued my relationship with the monks but was drawn to pursue my vocation as a husband and father. Joyce and I have been married for 38 years. We’ve raised three children, acquired three more through their marriages and now have three grandchildren (Anthony, Felicity and Dominic Green.) I am forever grateful that God has called me to the diaconate and for the support of my wife and family. I look forward to serving the people of our archdiocese.

Randy C. Howe

Age: 60

First Mass: June 5 at Mary Mother of the Church, St. Louis

Family: wife: Mary Anne; children: Ted, Michelle, Betsi, Tessa, Mandi and Abbi

Secular career: Certified public accountant and financial advisor

Calling: Mary Anne and I have been greatly blessed by God and have experienced God and His Church in many wonderful ways during our married life. I have always been very active in our local church. I have felt a calling to the diaconate for many years but decided to wait until our children were raised before entering the program which was a very good decision for our family. I very much look forward to serving God and His Church of St. Louis.

Brett C. LePage

Age: 56

First Mass: noon Sunday, June 12, at Immaculate Conception Church, Dardenne Prairie

Family: wife: Janice; daughters: Rebecca, Jessica, and Alixandria; son: Christopher

Secular career: Systems engineer for The Boeing Company

Calling: Being a graduate of St. Louis Preparatory Seminary North (Prep North), I felt an early calling to the priesthood until I met the one who would later become my wife, Janice. We have been married 35 wonderful years. Together we raised four kids in the faith and remained active in the Church. But there always seemed like there was more that God wanted me to do. I explored the diaconate but always came up with excuses not to pursue it. Finally a man much wiser than myself told me I have run out of excuses; that was five years ago. Exactly what God has in store for me as a deacon only He knows. I am grateful for the support and prayers
of my family and friends as I prepare for a new chapter in my life of serving the Lord and His people.

Kevin R. Miller

Age: 52

First Mass: June 5 at St. Anthony Church, Sullivan

Family: wife, Beth Ann; children: Kyle Nolie, Amanda and Kasilda

Secular career: sales, Airgas USA LLC

Calling: I feel that there is an unmet need in our world today and decided to respond to that gap between what is and what God wishes for us and calls us to see and act upon; To speak the Good News, to help where needed and lead others by example in loving care of the poor, sick, lonely and needy.

William A. Preiss

Age: 62

First Mass:, June 5 at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Shrewsbury

Family: wife, Terry; daughters, Olivia and Allison

Secular career: real estate sales/consultant with Keller Williams Realty

Calling: I converted to Catholicism 28 years ago and the RCIA class was taught by Deacon Gerry Quinn. … I knew that I wanted to become a deacon. The Blessed Mother and Holy Spirit moved me, and I began volunteering in many capacities in the Church. As my children grew up and moved away, I felt the call to the diaconate. I’m thankful God has called me to do His work and for the support of my wife and family, and look forward to serving God.

James M. Robert

Age: 53

First Mass:, June 5 at Ste. Genevieve Church, Ste. Genevieve

Family: wife, Jill; sons, Christopher and Austin

Secular career: Butler Supply, electrical wholesale

Calling: I was encouraged by three deacons to take my service to the Church to a whole new level. With the support of Jill and my very large family and lots of prayer, I entered formation. Five years sounded like a long time, but I would highly recommend it to any man who feels he has a calling. As a deacon, I hope to plant seeds in people and then step back and let God do in that person what He wills for them. I have been very blessed throughout my life, and I hope, by the grace of God, to be a blessing to others and bring them closer to Him.

Scott D. Schardan

Age: 48

First Mass: June 5 at St. David Church, Arnold

Family: wife, Melissa; daughters, Zoe and Grace

Secular career: prepress manager, Stolze Printing Company

Calling: There was a women’s prayer group at my home parish of St. Joseph in Imperial that was presenting a live Stations of the Cross during their Lenten dinner. They asked me to portray Simon of Cyrene. As I picked up the cross to help Jesus, I felt the Holy Spirit pouring into my heart and calling me to help others carry their cross by serving the Lord as a deacon. I was surprised and began to bargain with the Lord, saying, “Who am I? I’m just a convert. Can’t I just continue serving you where I already am?” But with each RCIA session I helped with, each retreat I helped present, each marriage prep couple we met with, each Eucharist received and each hour spent in adoration, God turned my reluctance into an overwhelming pull to say, “Yes, here I am, send me.”

Thomas A. Schiller

Age: 54

First Mass: June 5 at Seven Holy Founders Church, Affton

Family: wife: Chris; children: Samantha, Michael and Jenna

Secular career: self-employed, marketing/sales

Calling: Growing up I watched my parents volunteer countless hours at Our Lady of Sorrows, so serving at a parish in some capacity feels like home to me. I began to hear the Lord’s call to diaconal ministry soon after I made the conscientious effort to read Scripture regularly and learn more about the teachings of the Catholic Church. It is a great privilege to share our faith.

George J. Smith

Age: 54

First Mass: June 5 at St. Clare of Assisi Church, Ellisville

Family: wife, Ellen; daughter, Bridget; son, Jake

Secular career: commercial real estate appraiser and real estate broker

Calling: People always ask you when and how you knew you were called to the diaconate. I’d say that I’ve always felt a call, as far back as an altar server at Nativity of Our Lord parish and in the silent prayer times at Prep North High School. God kept me in conversation during my young adult years and when I would take my mother to daily Mass after my father died. And God trained me for service during every team, club and committee I’ve assisted in parish life. I feel blessed, honored and humbled by God’s call of me, and my simple answer of “Yes” to Him.

Carl J. Sommer

Age: 54

First Mass: June 5 at St. Monica Catholic Church, Creve Coeur

Family: wife: Anne; daughters, Judith and Rebecca

Secular career: teacher of Church history and member of administrative staff at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

Calling: In college I felt called to the priesthood. I spent two years at Conception Seminary in Northwest Missouri, but left because I felt equally called to be a married man and father. After years of working both for the Church and in private industry, I finally realized that what I was truly called to was the permanent diaconate, where I can combine my love of the Church and for my family. I am truly blessed and honored to be both a husband and father and a deacon.

Patrick G. Waldschmidt

Age: 55

First Mass: June 5 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, University City

Family: wife, Therese; daughters, Leslie and Mary; son, Patrick

Secular career: manufacturer’s representative

Calling: Since a young man in grade school, I felt being pulled to the priesthood. As a junior in college, God indeed made it known that I was being called to the priesthood. After two years of discernment, I decided that I wanted to be married and I asked God to please understand my decision. I clearly heard God say, “That’s OK, but there will be a time when I call you back.” God didn’t forget and indeed did call me back. I’m thankful every day for His blessings of marriage, children and the diaconate.

Timothy J. Woods

Age: 56

First Mass: June 5 at St. Catherine Laboure Church, Sappington

Family: wife, Nancy; daughter, Christina; son, Brian

Secular career: Elementary-school teacher assistant, Special School District of St. Louis County

Calling: While our children were still in high school, my wife would increasingly “catch me” during Mass paying close attention to the deacon’s role. I had gotten to know our parish’s deacons over my years as a lay volunteer. Soon enough came a personal invitation from one of them to attend a diaconate information night. The Holy Spirit has guided me every step in my journey toward ordination. May my works and words always model the love of Christ the Servant!

Stephen J. Young

Age: 43

First Mass: June 5 at Immaculate Conception Church, Park Hills

Family: wife, Rebecca; children, Thomas, Katherine, Andrew, Julia and Clare

Secular career: As of July 1, principal at St. Gertrude School in Krakow

Calling: Throughout grade school and high school, I felt called to serve the Church. After high school, I spent some time in the seminary, but I eventually left and married. The gentle urging of the Spirit never completely left me, though, and I had an increasing sense that I was called to ministry in the Church. I asked the Lord to “open the doors” if He wanted me to do something more, and He did. I am thankful for the guidance and support of Deacon Mike Burch, Father Mark Ebert and Father Jim Edwards, as well as the love and support of my wife and children. I have been very blessed, and I hope for many years of humble but fruitful service to the Church.

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