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Deacons at work: ‘It’s a blessing and an incredible thing’

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Standing in the narthex, Deacon Joe Pupo of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Alpharetta, blesses a statue of the Holy Family intended for a Hispanic family in Roswell, as Gabriela Mejorado stands in the background. Deacon Pupo’s primary assignment is at St. Thomas Aquinas, but since July 2015, he has gone up to St. Clement’s Church, Calhoun, once a month to assist with Mass and baptism prep classes. Photo By Michael Alexander

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 11/04/16

The Georgia Bulletin this week has a great glimpse at how deacons are ministering to the faithful in Atlanta:

Deacon Joe Pupo, who lives in Roswell and serves at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Alpharetta, takes to the highway on the first Sunday of each month. Deacon Pupo is one of just a handful of archdiocesan deacons with a dual assignment. He travels to St. Clement Church in Calhoun on that designated Sunday to assist the pastor, Father Joseph Shaute. “Calhoun is 61 miles from my house,” said Deacon Pupo. The deacon, born in Cuba and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey, helps with the Spanish Masses, including preaching, with baptism preparation and in supporting the parish catechists. Deacon Pupo said he arrives in Calhoun by 11 a.m. and leaves around 9 p.m. About 65 percent of the parish’s 1,200 members are Hispanic, noted Deacon Pupo. “I think the community is very welcoming,” said the deacon, ordained in 2009. Deacon Pupo has found that being willing to serve there has enriched his ministry as well. “Obviously, it’s helping me with my preaching abilities in Spanish,” he said. Deacon Pupo has been making the once-a-month trip to St. Clement for one year. The director of the permanent diaconate for the archdiocese, Deacon Dennis Dorner suggested Deacon Pupo as a good fit. “Father Shaute spoke with Deacon Dorner to see if someone could help,” he recalled. Father Shaute, who is bilingual, had met Deacon Pupo when he was master of ceremonies for an Our Lady of Guadalupe feast day Mass at St. Clement celebrated by Bishop Luis R. Zarama. The pastor was looking for greater assistance in meeting the needs of the largely Hispanic parish. Deacon Pupo didn’t agree immediately to the proposed assignment but prayed about it. He is the pastoral ministries director at St. Thomas Aquinas, and gained the blessing of pastor Msgr. Dan Stack for the dual role. Msgr. Stack told him, “Whatever it takes. I’m really proud of you.” “If anyone would be willing to share, it would be Msgr. Stack,” said Father Shaute. “He was more than generous.” Msgr. Stack termed it “the Pastoral Plan in practice.” Father Shaute feels a connection to Deacon Pupo as they both had military upbringings. St. Clement has one assigned deacon, Brad Krupa. Deacon Krupa assists with many ministries and handles all of the parish maintenance needs. He speaks little Spanish. “He’s also trying to juggle,” explained Father Shaute. The pastor wishes Deacon Pupo could be there more often. “It’s a blessing and an incredible thing. It’s a win-win not only for me, but also the people,” said Father Shaute. “The people get a different voice and a different presence.”

Read it all.

Photo: Michael Alexander/The Georgia Bulletin

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