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Meet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new permanent deacons (part 3)

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Andrew Rammel

When Andrew Rammel was asked by his pastor to take a class, the Precious Blood parishioner couldn’t have known that he would end up with a new vocation.

“I really wasn’t aware of what I was committing to when I started this journey six years ago,” said Rammel.

The class that Missionary of the Precious Blood Father William O’Donnell asked Rammel, 40, to take was the orientation to the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program. Rammel was surprised that Father O’Donnell asked him to take the class because the priest was new to the parish and two didn’t really know each other.

“When I first got into this I thought, ‘Kid you’re way out of your league,’” he said. “Somebody was watching out for me.”

ordained permanent deacons
Ordained permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati April 24 are Richard Hobbs, Jonathan “Jon”  Danner, Robert Leever, Bill Moore, Richard Simpson. (Second row, l to r): Terry Martin, Michael Prier, Jeff Perkins, Andrew Rammel and Mark Westendorf. (Photo courtesy of the Athenaeum of Ohio)

The logical step following the LPMP was diaconate formation. The process has enhanced his spiritual life, Rammel said.

“It’s developed immensely,” Rammel said. “I’m not afraid to talk about God and the Holy Spirit and how they act in your life.”

As a deacon, he wants to work with the youth of the parish.

“The youth is our future,” he said. “If we don’t catch them while they’re young, it’s very difficult to catch them in those 30-something years. Sometimes if you don’t get that base built up, it’s hard for them to grasp it later in life.”

Rammel, a Huber Heights fire lieutenant, and his wife, Lori, have two children, Hannah and Paul. Rammel will be assigned to Precious Blood Parish.

John “Jay” Rettig

After running his own software company for 26 years and devoting so much time to work and travel, John “Jay” Rettig wondered what he would do upon retiring. He prayed about it during Eucharistic adoration and says, “I never got any answer.”
 
The answer came when Father Bernard Weldishofer, pastor of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lebanon, mentioned that three men from the faith community were considering the diaconate. A parishioner since 1972, Rettig said, “I thought it seemed like something I could do. The idea of service to the parish and the community appealed to me. I was already active in the parish, but I felt there was a lot more I could do.”
 
Encouraged by his wife, Kathleen, and friends in the parish, Rettig enrolled in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program in 2005, followed by deacon formation.

“It’s helped me intellectually to learn a lot more about my faith,” he said of his time in formation. “Spiritually, it’s helped me develop a closer relationship with the Lord than I had before. My wife has attended most of the weekends, too, and it’s also helped her in her spiritual growth.”

Rettig, 64, is looking forward to serving St. Francis de Sales in a variety of ways.
 
Rettig and his wife have been married 41 years and have five grown children, Tim, Lynn, Andrew, Michael and Ann, and six grandchildren.

Steve Ryan

When Steve Ryan learned he was being laid off from his work in drafting, engineering and technology at General Electric in 2001, his first response, on the way to human resources, was to pray.

That prayer, as well as being encouraged to use a tuition refund from the company to further his religious education, ultimately led Ryan to the diaconate.

He enrolled in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program in 2002, earning a master’s degree. The deacon formation program was “the next logical chain of events,” explained Ryan.

“It’s helped me realize the depth of our faith and what’s behind it,” he said. “I come home every weekend feeling exhausted and blessed. It’s just been spiritually nurturing and has helped me to see the richness of our church.”

As a deacon, Ryan, a member of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Greenhills, is looking forward to serving at Mass and being more involved with baptisms, wedding and funerals. He also hopes to continue in his ministry as a volunteer jail chaplain at the Hamilton County Justice Center, an experience he has also found to be spiritually nurturing as the men have taught him to share his faith more readily.

“I’ll continue as long as the Lord wants me to be there,” Ryan, 65, said. “I’m open to wherever the Lord leads me.”

Ryan and his wife, Sandy, have been married for 44 years and have two sons, Scott and Sean, and three grandchildren.

Bill Schaefer

What started as a way to enhance the youth ministry efforts of Bill Schaefer and his wife at their parish led the self-described “country boy” down a very unexpected path. Jean Schaefer became involved in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program first, and then encouraged her husband to join her.

”It’s crazy, really,” said Bill Schaefer, 63, who farms for a living and serves on the board of directors for the Spiritual Center at Maria Stein. “I never started out to do this.”
 
He decided to apply to the diaconate at the encouragement of another board member, Deacon Jerry Buschur, along with a fellow member at Holy Name Parish in Trenton.

“I didn’t know a whole lot about it when I first applied,” admitted Schaefer, “but the more I learned, the more interested I became. I felt like the Lord was calling me. Sometimes, though, we’re not open to hearing the Lord directly. We have to hear it from somebody else.”

Schaefer said he has “grown tremendously” during his time in formation and is now looking forward to “doing whatever God wants me to do. It’s just really a blessing that the Lord has gotten so involved in my life,” he said.
 
For the past two years, Schaefer has been active in prison ministry at Warren Correctional Institution and he plans to remain involved after ordination.
 
“The inmates are very hungry for their faith, and I want to give them everything I can give,” said Schaefer.

He and his wife have been married for 45 years and have two children, Tony and Theresa, and nine grandchildren.

Richard Simpson

As he approached the 20-year mark as an Air Force officer, Richard Simpson found himself wondering what the next phase of his life would be bring. After serving his country for so many years, he felt called to be of service in another way — as a deacon.
 
Simpson, 50, who now works in program management as a civilian at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, said his journey to ordination has been “one step at time,” first the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, followed by deacon formation.
 
“The instruction we’ve had and the men I went through the program with have been great,” he said. “We’ve learned from each other and grown together spiritually as we’ve learned what we need to know to be deacons. I’ll miss the people and the place so much. The Athenaeum is wonderful.”

Simpson is looking forward to assisting with Mass, along with baptisms and weddings at his parish — St. Luke in Beavercreek. He would also like to be involved with solidifying the connection between the parish and an outreach organization such as Catholic Social Services.

Simpson and his wife, Rachael, have been married for 28 years and have three children, Ryan, Bret and Emily.

Hoang Vu

As a teenage refugee from Vietnam, Hoang Vu found a home in the local Catholic community when sponsorship from St. Gabriel Parish in Glendale enabled him to relocate to the Cincinnati area in 1975.
 
Now Vu, 50, is looking forward to giving back to the church as a deacon.
 
Since the early 1990s, Vu has been assisting Father Bernard Huan Nguyen with ministry to refugees and immigrants through Our Lady of Lavang Catholic Vietnamese Community. In 2004 Father Nguyen suggested that Vu consider the permanent diaconate.
 
“I didn’t think of being in the role of a deacon until I perceived an immediate need for it in the community,” said Vu, who completed a 27 year career as a chemist for Procter & Gamble earlier this year. “I thought the role would enable me to serve the people of God and His church even more effectively, therefore, I signed on to the program.”

Vu found the environment at the Athenaeum of Ohio to be “especially effective in forming us into men of prayer and service. We had good models to look up to and learn from. The program strengthened my resolve to serve and makes us more confident in our ministry,” he said.
 
A member of Sacred Heart Parish in Fairfield since 1993, Vu said he is looking forward to helping with the various liturgical and ministerial needs in his parish and the Vietnamese Catholic community.
 
“I’m also looking forward to being a catalyst in other men’s decisions to answer the call to the diaconate in my parish and beyond,” he said.
 
Vu and his wife, Lan, have been married for 26 years and have three children, Eric Minh, Kristina and Maria.

Dan Wade

Dan Wade, 48, had long been curious about the ministry of deacons and searching for way to deepen his service to the church. A conversation with Father Earl Simone, pastor of St. Peter Parish in Huber Heights, paved the way for Wade to learn more and discern his call.
 
Wade, who works in human resources for Honda, went through the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, then applied to the diaconate. He describes the past three years in formation as “amazing.”
 
“My classmates have been the best group of men I’ve ever had the pleasure of being with,” Wade said. “We’ve learned the ropes together and supported each other. Their spirituality has strengthened my own. Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, director of formation and the staff at the Athenaeum have been wonderful. It truly has been a life-changing experience, bringing me closer to God, my family and the parish community.”
 
Wade is currently involved with youth ministry and adult and youth religious education at St. Peter and hopes to continue his involvement, in addition to “helping out at the parish wherever I’m needed.”
 
He has been married to wife, Vicki, for 19 years, and the couple has three children, Rachael, Marie and Clare.

Dave Wallace

From serving on parish council at St. Philip in Morrow to delivering tasty treats to the residents of Pine Crest Nursing Center in his role as “Doughnut Dave,” Dave Wallace has always been active in one form of service or another.
 
A former Army officer who went on to run his own financial planning company, Wallace said he never would have considered what he was doing ministry, but his classes in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program and preparation to become a deacon brought new meaning to his outreach efforts.

It was a talk by Father Mark Watkins, former director of the archdiocesan Vocations Office, that started him down the road to the diaconate, Wallace said.
 
The formation program has been an opportunity for Wallace, who describes himself as “a very outgoing person,” to “look inward and be honest with myself.

“It’s brought me as close to as I can be to God and has taught me to listen to what He wants me to do, instead of what I want to do. My prayer every day is to do what He wants and for the tools do it,” he said.
 
Wallace will be St. Philip’s first deacon and says, “I’m looking forward to being of service to my parish.”

He is also looking forward to continuing his ministry to the elderly. “I think in our society we tend to warehouse the elderly and neglect them. We need to listen to them and learn from them,” he said. “Our job as ministers is to take care of those who are forgotten. That’s what God wants us to do.”
 
Wallace, 66, and his wife, Carol, will have been married for 41 years in May. They have five children, Elizabeth, David Jr., Sarah, Emily and Stephen.

Jim Walworth

Jim Walworth says there have been various times in the past 25 years that he felt called to the diaconate, but as with any vocation, he realized it had to happen in God’s time.

It started with the encouragement of his pastor, “who planted the seed,” said Walworth, who is director of development for Chaminade-Julienne High School.
 
Years later, the sudden death of a friend prompted to him listen to the call more deeply and finally respond. He completed a master’s degree in pastoral ministry at the University of Dayton in 2007, working with Barry Mersmann, director of the archdiocesan Diaconate Office, to insure it was in line with the Athenaeum of Ohio’s curriculum, and then began the deacon formation program.
 
In reflecting on his experience Walworth, 55, said, “The first thing that comes to mind is that I have this relationship with the other men in the program that is closer and unlike anything I’ve experienced with a group of men before. We’ve become brothers. That’s a very special thing.”
 
As a deacon Walworth, who will serve at Holy Angels Parish in Dayton, said he is most looking forward to “being present for people in the sacramental moments of their lives, whether it’s a happy occasion like a baptism or wedding, or when they’re in need at a funeral. It’s important to be there pastorally for them.”
 
Wallace and his wife, Kathleen, who have been married for almost 36 years, will also be working on enriching the marriage preparation program at Holy Angels. They have four children, James, Dan, Mary and Anne-Marie, and three grandchildren.
 
Mark Westendorf

After 35 years in the public school system, including 31 as a principal, Mark Westendorf is enjoying the opportunity to “serve the church and build up God’s kingdom” through his ministry at Good Shepherd Parish. He believes his position as director of pastoral care and outreach, which he has held for the past 14 months, will be a good fit with his ministry as a deacon.
 
Westendorf’s call to the diaconate came six years ago when his wife, Mary John, encouraged him to take a class with her through the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program as a way to enhance their prayer life. Westendorf enjoyed the class so much that he continued taking courses and eventually applied to the deacon formation program.

“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Westendorf said. “My wife attended the classes, too, and the time together has really deepened our spiritual life.”

As a deacon Westendorf, who is 57, is looking forward to sacramental ministry as well as helping “in small ways to build up the church. We’re all called to do our part,” he said. “We can sit on the sidelines and complain, but if that’s all we do, we just stay where we are. We have a responsibility in a positive way to make the church better for our children and grandchildren.”

Westendorf and his wife have been married for 36 years. They have six children, Jerry, Mary John, Heather, Luke, Holly and David, and eight grandchildren.

See related stories: 36 men ordained deacons for archdioceseMeet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new permanent deacons (part 1), Meet the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s new permanent deacons (part 2)

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