On Saturday, Sept. 17, Bishop Richard J. Malone, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, will ordain five men to the holy order of deacon. One gentleman will be a permanent deacon and the other four will continue their studies for the priesthood. This special Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Cathedral, 50 Franklin St., Buffalo.
North Tonawanda resident John E. Steiner Jr. is a married father of two. He and his wife Sheila have two daughters, Jessica Scarano and Katelyn Steiner. He is a long-term employee at the New York State School for the Blind in Batavia and serves as a certified occupational therapy assistant.
"I felt that I was being called to do something more than the ministries I had been involved in," said Steiner when asked why he decided to pursue the diaconate. "One evening, our parish deacon asked Sheila and I to attend a meeting that was to be held at our church. Without asking what the meeting was for, we agreed and, lo and behold, when we got there, it was an informational meeting regarding the diaconate. After praying about this, we felt this is what God was calling me to do."
As a permanent deacon, Steiner may officiate at weddings, baptisms, funerals and wakes. He also may preach and distribute Holy Communion. The role of the deacon traditionally has been one of charity and administration. Following his ordination, Bishop Malone will assign Steiner to diaconal ministry in a parish, hospital, prison, human services agency or diocesan office.
Robert I. Agbo, Martin F. Gallagher, Luke P. Uebler II, and Cole T. Webster are the four seminarians from Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, who will be ordained transitional deacons. They have been studying for the priesthood and have had assignments in local parishes.
Before entering the seminary, Agbo, a native of Nigeria, was a high school principal, teacher and finance administrator. He has studied in Nigeria and has degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Urban University, Rome. Since moving to the United States, he has joined St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Tonawanda, and has completed ministerial assignments at St. Michael Parish, Warsaw; St. Mark and St Rose of Lima, both in Buffalo.
Gallagher, whose home parish is Our Lady Help of Christians, Cheektowaga, has a bachelor's degree in sociology from the State University of New York at Fredonia. His prior work experience includes employment at Tops Friendly Markets and serving as a senior teller at Key Bank, N.A. He also was a teacher's aide at Glendale Elementary School in the Sweet Home School District and then was an assistant English teacher for the Kawai-mura Board of Education in Kawai-mura, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.
Uebler, an Elma resident, enrolled in Mark's Seminary at Gannon University, Erie, Pa., following high school. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Gannon and graduated summa cum laude. Uebler participated in a full-time internship at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa., in the summer of 2015. His ministerial assignments have been at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish, Bemus Point; St. Mark and St. Rose of Lima, both in Buffalo.
When pondering what he wanted for his future, Uebler said thoughts of the priesthood surfaced. "I decided to give it a good look," he explained, "and, as I did so, those around me who had subtly encouraged me to consider the priesthood before now supported me more so than ever saying, 'I knew you had this in you. This is the right path for you.' At the same time," he said," there was a great sense of peace and a joy in my heart."
The fifth candidate for ordination is an Amherst resident whose home parish is Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Buffalo. Webster, who graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo, graduated with a bachelor of science degree in hospitality and tourism. Prior to entering the seminary, he was office management positions. Along with the other seminarians, Webster is expected to be ordained to the priesthood in June 2017.