Eleven men were ordained May 25 in an almost three-hour liturgy as permanent deacons in the Diocese of Belleville. Some acknowledged their nervousness, but all were excited and happy to have reached their ordination day, which heralds a new chapter in their lives of service to the church. All of the men have participated in parish ministry, some long before they entered the formation program for the diaconate five years ago. Before their ordination, the men took a few moments to talk about their expectations and their ministry. Deacon Stephen Lowe of St. Mary Parish in Mt. Carmel said he would like to serve the grieving and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in his parish. “I have a strong passion to teach the faith through adult catechesis,” he said. Deacon Lowe is married to Donna. The couple has four children. Deacon Archie Bowers Jr., of St. Clement Parish in McLeansboro expects to serve in the three parishes in Hamilton County: St. Clement, St. John the Baptist in Piopolis and St. John Nepomucene in Dahlgren. “I want to serve my three parishes the way Jesus served the church,” he said. Deacon Bowers is married to Kristy, and the couple has one daughter. Deacon Tim DeRousse of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Belleville. Deacon DeRousse said he plans to continue his studies to constantly improve and expand his knowledge. In ministry, he said: “All I ask is to serve the people and help them find God.” Deacon DeRousse is married to Laura. The couple has two children. Deacon Wayne Weiler of St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville said wants “to serve the people of God the best of my ability.” Deacon Weiler is married to Josie, and the couple has two children. Deacon Stephen AuBuchon of St. Francis of Assisi in Aviston said he expects to be “very involved” in adult education and faith formation. “I would like to look into prison ministry,” he said. Deacon AuBuchon is married to Mary, and the couple has three children. Deacon Steve Andrews of Immaculate Conception in Bridgeport will soon be involved in celebrating the last liturgy at his parish. He will be involved with St. Lawrence Parish ministry in Lawrenceville, a neighbor to Bridgeport. “I want to serve God and to serve my parish and to serve the Belleville diocese. “I want to work with the elderly,” he said, describing that group as the “kind of forgotten generation that was the base of everything else.” Deacon Andrews is married to Barbara, and the couple has two children.
Deacon Tom Helfrich
of SS. Peter & Paul in Waterloo said he would like to give back to the church and would like to be “more focused” on adult faith formation. “I believe to form children in faith properly, we have to start with the parents,” he said. Deacon Helfrich is married to Dawn, and the couple has three children. Deacon Michael Rowland of St. Andrew Parish in Christopher said he would like “to bring Jesus to the people.” “I told God to do with me what he wanted,” he said. Deacon Rowland is married to Katie, and the couple has four children. Deacon Corby Valentine of St. Joseph in Freeburg wants to serve the church. “I want to give back to God, the church and to minister to the sick and aged,” he said. He is building a retreat center for children with developmental disabilities in the Freeburg area. The deacon wants to give special children the opportunity “to have some of the things other children have,” he said. Deacon Valentine is married to Sharon, and the couple has three children. Deacon David Fields of St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville said he wants to “serve the people of God at cathedral parish” and is hoping to add hospital ministry. Deacon Fields is married to Bing, and the couple has two children. Deacon John Fridley of St. George Parish in New Baden said he will continue to volunteer in the diocesan Office of Child Protection. The deacon also hopes to volunteer with deacon formation. He has been teaching religious education at St. George and will be taking classes to become involved in prison ministry. Deacon Fridley is married to Marlene, and the couple has four children. This is the sixth group of men to be ordained permanent deacons for the diocese, Father Gene Wojcik said. Father Wojcik is director of deacon formation in the diocese. The new deacons “come from all over the diocese,” Father Wojcik sad. “They have varied life and job experiences and all are dedicated to service in their parishes.” The deacons’ wives will continue to support the deacons in their ministry. Dawn Helfrich said the ordination “is a culmination of a life of faith. Everything Tom has done has brought him to this day and this place. This is such a big day.” Marlene Fridley looked at ordination day as “the beginning of another chapter of our spiritual life.” Donna Lowe described the study, the reflection, the preparation as a “very long journey. I’m extremely proud of everything and everyone and all they have done to prepare for this day. I look forward to tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.”
Congratulations, brothers, and welcome! Ad multos annos!