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Sixteen men stood before Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski during their permanent diaconate ordination Mass on June 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Sixteen men stood before Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski during their permanent diaconate ordination Mass on June 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Sixteen men ordained to the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of St. Louis

Permanent deacons serve the Church through a ministry of liturgy, Word and charity

Sixteen men were called to conform themselves to the sacrificial love of Jesus through their new ministry as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski presided at the June 8 ordination at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The new deacons will minister to others in a number of different ways, Archbishop Rozanski said during his homily. In the Gospel reading for the ordination Mass, Jesus explains that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to bear fruit. That is the root of all ministry and service in the Church, the archbishop said.

Matthew Bross, Tim Kurt, Michael Miller and Scott Sparks talked before Mass.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
“It’s an image that stays with us, because Jesus reminds us of the daily dying and rising essential to the ministry that is rooted in love of Him and of neighbor,” he said. “And so in ministry, our deacons are called to follow these good works of Jesus, seeking the good of those to whom they minister.”

Deacons are to be examples of holiness to the rest of community, holding fast to the hope offered by the Gospel, Archbishop Rozanski said.

“Now, you are not only a hearer of God’s Word but also a proclaimer of that Word. Hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Express by your actions the Word of God, which your lips proclaim, so that the Christian people, brought to life by the Holy Spirit, may be a pure offering acceptable to God.”

Archbishop Rozanski’s homily resonated with Deacon Mark Miller as he looked upon the crucifix in the cathedral basilica during the ordination. “It just came back to me that this is all because of Jesus and the humility of Him on the cross,” he said. “It’s all about that.”

Deacon Miller’s wife, Kathy, was very moved as she presented the stole and dalmatic — deacon’s vestments — for her husband to be vested for the first time. She’s seen the way that serving others, including through hospital ministry during diaconate formation, brings him joy.

“When he comes home, I can tell he’s just filled with the Holy Spirit,” she said. “It’s a grace that we’ve received, in watching him serve.”

Deacon Miller’s children, Clare and Luke, were proud to witness their father’s ordination and are looking forward to hearing him preach at Mass.

“He really just is so loving to others already,” Clare, 17, said. “I think he’s just really excited to go out and make a difference for the faith.”

Deacon Jeremy Remiger, 43, is the youngest of the new deacons. As campus minister at St. John Vianney High School, he’s looking forward to continuing his ministry with the extras graces from the sacrament of holy orders.

“Bringing this to that place, a place that I really love and have been a part of for so long, is probably the thing I’m looking forward to the most,” he said. “…People have been saying congratulations on all the hard work that’s been done. And I know that the work is just beginning.”

Deacon Remiger’s wife, April, said she’s seen the fruit of the diaconate formation as her husband has grown more in faith and virtue through the process.

“It’s been a beautiful witness of faithfulness to prayer and to the Church for our kids, who are in a stage of being teenagers right now,” she said. “Seeing him with the Liturgy of the Hours, always being faithful to that, has shown them that no matter what’s going on, there’s time for prayer.”

The day before, the couple had talked about what kind of impact his vocation could have on those around him, April said. “It’s that of using his life as a witness for people to just love Jesus. Some people in our family have fallen away (from the faith), and I think one of the hopes is that he can share the faith with them in a way that brings them back.”

Sacrament of Holy Orders

Deacons share in the sacrament of Holy Orders with bishops and priests. At the ordination Mass, the 16 men declared their willingness to undertake the responsibilities of the diaconate, as well as obedience to the archbishop and his successors.

The sixteen men ordained as permanent deacons lay prostrate during the Litany of Supplication at their Mass of ordination to the permanent diaconate June 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand
During the Litany of Supplication, also known as the Litany of Saints, the men lay prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary, while the congregation prayed for the intercession of the saints for God’s grace and mercy for them.

Archbishop Rozanski also imposed hands on the heads of each ordinand, conferring the power of the Holy Spirit through a prayer of consecration. He then said the prayer of ordination, asking for each man to be configured to the person of Christ.

Afterward, the new deacons are vested with the stole and dalmatic, vestments that symbolize their office within the Church. The deacons’ wives presented the vestments to priests and deacons who were chosen to vest the new deacons.

The vocation of the permanent diaconate

The work of the deacon is defined as a ministry of liturgy, Word and charity. Deacons are assigned to a parish, assisting at Mass, baptisms, weddings, funerals, Communion services, RCIA or other parish programs. Many also serve outside the parish in hospitals, prisons or other outreach efforts.

The origins of the diaconate are found in the first century, when the early Church was being established and a need for catechesis and service to others was recognized. After flourishing for 400 years, the diaconate declined and became little more than a transitional step to priesthood. The Second Vatican Council, held from 1962-65, restored this ministry of service to its original purpose.

In 1972, Cardinal John J. Carberry started a permanent diaconate formation program in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Cardinal Carberry ordained the first class of 12 men on Jan. 29, 1977. 

The 16 new deacons for the Archdiocese of St. Louis

The 16 men who will be ordained to the permanent diaconate on June 8 at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis talk about their vocational call.

Lawrence Bean

Parish assignment: St. Joseph in Josephville and St. Paul in St. Paul

Age: 66

Family: Wife, Linda; sons, Tony, Kevin, Eric and Bryan

Career: Manager with Stephen Gould

The call: I have been very blessed in my life being surrounded by family, friends, parishioners and religious that have helped me to grow and love my faith. Even though I was very active in our parish, I felt driven to do more, something that could help me pay it forward. After many prayers and conversations, the diaconate is where our Lord was guiding us so that I could become the servant that I was wanting to be. The Rosary has been a big part of my life for the past 25 years. What a blessing it will be to be ordained on the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!



Matthew Bross

Parish assignment: St. Theodore in Flint Hill

Age: 63

Family: Wife, Janice; Children, Kristin, Kenny, Krystal Rose, Keenan and Kaitlyn

Career: Telecommunications

The call: The diaconal call began as many gentle nudges from the Holy Spirit through people over the years. This nudging grew into voices from prayer partners, priests, friends and new encounters with God’s people on life’s journey. All of these nudges and voices shared a common resonance in my heart, that being to seek more earnestly God’s plan for me in “service” to the Church and God’s children. A deacon’s call is to serve the Church, in the person of Christ the servant. Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.



Daniel Darian

Parish assignment: Ste. Genevieve in Ste. Genevieve, Sacred Heart in Ozora and Our Lady Help of Christians in Weingarten

Age: 53

Family: Wife, Tracy; Children, Demie, Jonah and Xavier

Career: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Adult Protective Services

The call: My calling was subtle at first. The more I grew and strengthened my faith, the stronger the call was to serve Christ and His Church. I denied the possible call to the permanent diaconate at first because I doubted that I was worthy or qualified to pursue this vocation. God does not give up on His pursuit of us however and I finally surrendered to discerning this call. Through prayer and formation I discovered that Christ can work through me despite my shortcomings if I only get out of His way and let Him.



Richard Dore

Parish assignment: St. Joseph in Farmington

Age: 58

Family: Wife, Jana; sons, Nicholas and Benjamin

Career: CRNA at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital

The call: I believe The Holy Spirit has been calling to me to serve the Church as a deacon since I was in college. Many years later, I finally said “yes” to discernment and exploring the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I am grateful for the years of prayers and support from parishioners, friends and family, particularly my wife, Jana. I look forward to serving the Church.



Stephen Fahrig

Parish assignment: Our Lady of Lourdes in University City

Age: 51

Family: Wife, Nori

Career: Associate professor of biblical theology at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

The call: Ever since I was in college I felt a call to ordained ministry in the Church, but originally thought that I was called to the priesthood. I spent several years in seminary, both as a diocesan seminarian and in religious life, but always felt a tension between the desire to be ordained and the desire to be married. During my time in seminary I had several providential encounters with permanent deacons, including James Keating, who is now my colleague at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. These encounters helped me to see that God was calling me not to the priesthood but to the diaconate. Because my wife Nori and I both have careers in the Church — she as a musician and me as a seminary professor — my call to the diaconate fits in well with the life of ecclesial service we are already both living.


Christopher Foeldi

Parish assignment: Ascension in Chesterfield

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Suzanne; daughters, Jessica and Elliana

Career: Director of Adult Faith Ministries at Ascension Parish in Chesterfield

The call: For me my call to the diaconate vocation took a number of years of discernment even before I entered formation. I had been a sacristan and, in that role, I got to know and respect the deacons at my parish. One of our deacons was the first to ask if I might have the call. I then had a number of people at my parish over the next several years ask me when I was going to become a deacon. I always answered that I was thinking about it. It was only after people stopped asking that I was able to properly discern if I might be called. I believe it was the Holy Spirit that prompted me to seriously consider the permanent diaconate by entering formation. My discernment continued and it wasn’t until guidance from my spiritual director that I was able to fully realize that I had a true calling to the diaconate vocation.


Charles Hinkle

Parish assignment: Immaculate Heart of Mary in New Melle

Age: 62

Family: Wife, Laurie; sons, Brian and Matthew

Career: Computer consultant

The call: My calling developed over time as I grew and matured in my Catholic faith. As a Catholic convert at age 20 prior to getting married, my wife was instrumental in my faith journey.




Greg Hrbacek

Parish assignment: St. Mark in Lemay

Age: 62

Family: Wife, Lori; children, Stephanie, Robert, Steven and Jeffery

Career: Program manager for life safety at BJC

The call: The Lord has been calling me to service of the Church. At first, I did not understand the call, but I am excited by the journey the Lord and the Church has put me on. I look forward to serving the Lord.




Tim Kurt

Parish assignment: Queen of All Saints in Oakville

Age: 60

Family: Wife, Sharon; son, Jacob

Career: Physician (anesthesiologist)

The call: Sharon and I had discussed the possibility of a calling several times, but the timing for our family was not right. Six years ago on a White House retreat, I had a chance to talk to a deacon that was on the retreat. He sent me the information for a diaconate information night. Sharon and I discerned the diaconate again, and we went to the information night. A deacon friend that had been in our parish was at the information night. When he greeted us, he said “It is about time!”



Ralph Magee

Parish assignment: Seven Holy Founders in Affton

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Lisa Marie; children, Jessica, Jon, Grace and Adam

Career: Transportation operations manager

The call: When I came off my very first ACTS retreat on which there was several deacons attending, I was able to get to know them and I thought, those guys are amazing; I think I want to be a deacon. The thought never left and the following year I began in formation.




Mark Miller

Parish assignment: St. James the Greater and Epiphany of Our Lord in St. Louis

Age: 57

Family: Wife, Kathy; children, Clare and Luke

Career: vice president of sales in the field of commercial construction and facility operations

The call: I was asked to consider the diaconate by a deacon at my parish. It was apparent almost immediately to me and my family that this was the nudge I needed. It answered a call to serve the Church that I was not able to articulate or act on before.



Michael Miller

Parish assignment: Assigned to minister at Regina Cleri in Shrewsbury

Age: 54

Family: Wife, Carolyn; Children, Kathleen, Elizabeth and James

Career: Administrator at Regina Cleri home for retired priests

The call: For over 20 years, my wife and I have discussed the possibility to serve the Church and our parish through the diaconate formation and education.




Robert Nack

Parish assignment: Christ Prince of Peace in Manchester

Age: 52

Family: Wife, Michelle; sons, Will, Sam, Max and Ben

Career: Veterinary specialist

The call: We all feel God’s call at various times in our life but there are certain ones that grab hold of us along our way and won’t let us go. So we must wrestle them through. It is a mysterious thing to engage in this spiritual battle of surrendering to the will of God. For me it has been filled with moments of excitement and wonder and moments of struggle and doubt. There were times that I was amazed that doors had been opened and they lead me to learn more about the Catholic faith and the service to which I felt called. At other times challenges and fears confronted me and I had to submit to being formed in patience and acceptance of things that were difficult. Learning to assess moments spiritually and intellectually while allowing God’s will to unfold was a gradual thing for me. But I found that His way brought a peace and the simple joys of faith and service. It has been a journey. It has been good. I am certain that through a commitment to prayer, study, service and faith I will continue to be tempered and formed in this calling and that is well with my soul.



Jeremy Remiger

Parish assignment: Assumption in Mattese

Age: 43

Family: Wife, April; children, Aidan and Nora

Career: Campus minister at St. John Vianney High School

The call: I’ve been working in the Church for a while now. I began seriously discerning the diaconate about eight years ago. I feel called to continue what I do, fortified by the objective effectiveness provided through the grace of the sacrament of Holy Orders.



Scott Sparks

Parish assignment: Incarnate Word in Chesterfield

Age: 49

Family: Wife, Virginia; Children, Mark, Brian and Samantha

Career: Information technology

The call: My call to the diaconate vocation was a process of discernment in how to know, love, and serve God more in this life. Working with a spiritual director (along with the loving, discerning heart of my wife), I explored several ministries and charisms, including formation as a spiritual director through Aquinas Institute of Theology. Each experience was affirming, but felt more like a stepping stone to the next milestone in God’s plan. Just as I had arrived to the point where God wanted me to be, a notification was published for an information night for the next diaconate formation class. My wife recognized the call to the diaconate right away, but I wasn’t convinced. As I drove to the session, my mind filled with about half a dozen reasons why the diaconate formation wouldn’t work out for me. The formation director talked through all of my concerns before he was half way through his presentation and well before any of us had an opportunity to ask questions. It was definitely an “Okay, God…I guess you want me to do this” moment. It has been a beautiful, grace filled journey, and I look forward to serving His Church in this capacity.



Stephen Yallaly

Parish assignment: Sts. Joachim and Ann in St. Charles

Age: 62

Family: Wife, Lori; children, Claire and Joey

Career: Operations analyst at Boeing

The call: For me my call to the diaconate vocation took a number of years of discernment even before I entered formation. I had been a sacristan and, in that role, I got to know and respect the deacons at my parish. One of our deacons was the first to ask if I might have the call. I then had a number of people at my parish over the next several years ask me when I was going to become a deacon. I always answered that I was thinking about it. It was only after people stopped asking that I was able to properly discern if I might be called. I believe it was the Holy Spirit that prompted me to seriously consider the permanent diaconate by entering formation. My discernment continued and it wasn’t until guidance from my spiritual director that I was able to fully realize that I had a true calling to the diaconate vocation.




The vocation of the permanent diaconate

Matthew Bross, Tim Kurt, Michael Miller and Scott Sparks talked before Mass.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
The work of the deacon is defined as a ministry of liturgy, Word and charity. Deacons are assigned to a parish, assisting at Mass, baptisms, weddings, funerals, Communion services, RCIA or other parish programs. Many also serve outside the parish in hospitals, prisons or other outreach efforts.

The origins of the diaconate are found in the first century, when the early Church was being established and a need for catechesis and service to others was recognized. After flourishing for 400 years, the diaconate declined and became little more than a transitional step to priesthood. The Second Vatican Council, held from 1962-65, restored this ministry of service to its original purpose.

In 1972, Cardinal John J. Carberry started a permanent diaconate formation program in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Cardinal Carberry ordained the first class of 12 men on Jan. 29, 1977.


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