Three men, with eight children among them, will be ordained at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St., Buffalo, on Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. Through the imposition of hands by Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of Buffalo, and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, these men will become permanent deacons, joining more than 130 other deacons in the diocese.
David Charles Armstrong, Peter James Donnelly and John Alois Owczarczak, have spent the past several years studying at Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, to reach this point. They've taken classes, been on retreats, worked in ministry at parishes, health care facilities and diocesan offices, all in preparation to serve the Church. Two of the candidates currently are employed, one is retired, and all have the blessings of their wives to dedicate their time to the Church.
Armstrong, a retired teacher from Corry, PA, is a parishioner at Christ Our Hope Parish in French Creek. He found his field ministry to be particularly enlightening.
"My experiences have given me a more profound understanding and appreciation for others, especially those with addictions and the elderly," he said. "My ministry assignments have aided in my understanding of what I was taught in class. This was done by the practical application of those teachings, my witnessing the positive effects they had on those to whom I ministered, and the responses from those individuals of when they recognized God working through me."
Although he may have dealt with children for more than 31 years in his teaching position, during his field ministry, Armstrong worked with senior citizens, the poor and drug addicts.
A graduate of Slippery Rock State University of Pennsylvania, Armstrong and his wife Linda are parents of Jessica, Curtis and Lindsay.
Donnelly, a Williamsville resident, is a product manager at ATTO Technology in Amherst. He and his wife, Catherine, are the parents of Peter, Maggie and Matthew, and belong to St. Gregory the Great Parish, Williamsville, where he has served as a member of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults team.
As part of his formation, Donnelly was a student chaplain at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Williamsville, and an English instructor at Vive La Casa Refugee Center, Buffalo.
"The diaconate formation program helped me to better understand how God has always, and continues, to work in my life," he said. "As a permanent deacon, I hope to be able to share the gift of God's love with my family and friends, the people of my parish and with those I meet in my ministry."
Donnelly is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and St Bonaventure University where he earned a bachelor's degree in packaging engineering and a master's degree in organizational leadership, respectively.
The third candidate came to the diaconate program because he responded to God's call.
"I've heard God's call many times throughout my life," Owczarczak said, "but it was only recently that I listened. I envision myself serving God by proclaiming the Gospel with my voice, through my actions and by my teaching. I see myself serving all God's creation as Jesus did, by being there, with them and for them, feeding their body, heart, mind and soul," he explained.
A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Owczarczak is a senior design engineer at Carleton Technology in Orchard Park. He and his wife Barbara are members of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, Lancaster, and have a daughter, Heather, and a son, Stephen.
As part of his journey to become a permanent deacon, Owczarczak worked in parish ministry at his parish as well as St. Josaphat Parish, Cheektowaga, at Erie County Medical Center and with the diocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities.
Permanent deacons, men who are ordained as deacons but do not continue on to the priesthood, can officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals and wakes. They may also preach and distribute Holy Communion. Following their ordinations, the newly-ordained deacons will be assigned to ministry in local hospitals, prisons, parishes or nursing homes.