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Deacon Adam Puntel

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May 17, 2011

By David Eck

Deacon Puntel set out to be a special education teacher, but during undergraduate studies at the University of Toledo found himself contemplating a call to the priesthood.


Deacon Adam Puntel (CT photo/E.L. Hubbard)

The 30-year-old became attracted to writings of the saints and the great theological works in the Catholic Church while in college. He appreciated the way St. Augustine combined theology with writing from his heart. Deacon Puntel also began reading St. Thomas Aquinas, and over time became more interested in spiritual writings than in some of his college studies.


Father Arthur J.  Niewiadomski, a priest of the Toledo diocese and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Toledo, noticed his student reading St. Thomas Aquinas in class. He brought the young man into his office and asked point-blank if he was thinking of becoming a priest. It was the first time Deacon Puntel discussed it with anyone.


A native of Dayton, Deacon Puntel grew up in Incarnation Parish in Centerville. He was active in ministry and charitable groups in high school, helping in soup kitchens and volunteering at an agency that develops housing for low-income residents. At Centerville High School he was a typical student who played sports and worked part-time jobs.


At that time in his life, though active in ministry, Deacon Puntel never felt called to the priesthood.


While finishing his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo, the thought of becoming a priest was “circling around” in the back of his mind, Deacon Puntel said. He found his answers in the seminary.


“It’s a great combination of ritual, liturgical prayer formation and theological study,” he said of priestly formation. “It really helps you start to become the man of community that I think our church needs.”


Deacon Puntel served his internship at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Cincinnati, which gave him the opportunity to observe staff interaction, work with the business manager and learn how to balance the duties between ministry and business.


“One of the great things I learned was that my time in the seminary has prepared me to talk about things off-the-cuff. If someone comes up with a question, I have a pretty decent answer for them,” he said.


Deacon Puntel sees God’s hand directing him through his life, beginning with service in high school to discovering the theological works of the church.


He also credits his parents, Dennis and Adele, with influencing his vocation by the way they live their faith. The family also includes a sister, Erica, and a brother, Justin.


“I had different models of faith in my mother and my father,” he said. “They’re still kind of shocked that their son is going to be a priest. It didn’t come out of left field but they don’t see their hand too much in it.”


Deacon Puntel is looking forward to celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments. He wants to help people during their difficult moments and to teach.


He sees the challenges facing priests and the church today.


“We know the church has struggled with modernity,” he said. “How do we engage our secular world in a way that they can’t dismiss us? Strengthening Catholic culture is something our generation is looking forward to.”


Deacon Puntel will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving on May 22 at noon at Incarnation Parish, and on May 28 at 5 p.m. at St. Vincent Ferrer Parish.

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