Toronto diaconate grows by 16

  • June 1, 2010
Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Nguyen, Vicar of Deacons, presented the Book of Gospels to each newly ordained deacon at the May 29 ordination ceremony at St. Michael's Cathedral. TORONTO - Deacon Rudy Ovcjak says being in a hospital room and sharing the hope and love of God to patients, like a woman whose faith was shaken while battling an illness, has provided an excellent training ground for his new ministry.

Ovcjak, 47, was ordained with 15 other men as a deacon for the archdiocese of Toronto on May 29 at St. Michael’s Cathedral. More than 500 people were in attendance at the packed cathedral to witness the ordination by Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Nguyen, the archdiocese's Vicar of Deacons.

Permanent deacons provide ongoing pastoral care in places like prisons, hospitals, seniors’ homes and provide assistance to the parish priest. St. Augustine’s Seminary offers a four-year formation program for diaconate candidates and their wives. There are more than 100 deacons serving throughout the Toronto archdiocese which extends from Oshawa to Mississauga and north to Georgian Bay.

As part of his pastoral training, Ovcjak volunteered at Ajax-Pickering Hospital and has been visiting patients for two years.

“The largest part of a deacon’s ministry is outside of the parish, to minister to those who are away from the Church, (who are) marginalized and on the outskirts of society,” he said.

During a particular visit with a woman who had fallen into despair, Ovcjak said despite the difficult circumstances, it was a “wonderful time to minister and share with her the hope and love that God has for her and listening to her pain.”

The newly ordained

  • Curtis Boone — St. Padre Pio parish, Woodbridge
  • Silverio Fidalgo — St. Patrick's parish, Mississauga
  • David MacInnis — St. Gregory the Great parish, Oshawa
  • Damien McGowan — St. Philip Neri parish, Toronto
  • Michael Miranda — St. John Chrysostom parish, Newmarket
  • Alan Morris — St. Leo's parish, Etobicoke
  • Michael O'Mahoney — Newman Centre Catholic Mission, Toronto
  • Don O'Shaughnessy — St. Martin de Porres parish, Scarborough
  • Rudy Ovcjak — St. Isaac Jogues parish, Pickering
  • Joseph Owusu-Afriyie — St. Andrew's parish, Etobicoke
  • Sarfaraz Pinto — St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Markham
  • Domenico Pullano — St. David's parish, Maple
  • Terence Rebello — Prince of Peace parish, Scarborough
  • Don Roberts — St. Francis of Assisi parish, Mississauga
  • James Shaughnessy — Good Shepherd parish, Thornhill
  • Larry Shaw — St. Anthony of Padua parish, Bramalea

Despite his busy schedule (Ovjcak works as an associate vice-president of store solutions at Canadian Tire Ltd.), deacons like Ovcjak say they are excited about serving God and the Church as deacons.

For Ovjcak, the call to serve came when he heard a deacon at his parish of St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Pickering talk about the diaconate.

“My sense was that he was speaking directly to me,” he said.  

But deacons don't minister alone. They rely upon the support of their family. The deacon training program integrates spouses into the program. Couples spend a weekend at St. Augustine’s Seminary and attend lectures on theology. Ovcjak said he and his wife, Kathy, benefited from the experience.

“It’s really a journey together as a couple. Consent of (our) wives is an important part of the ordination service,” he said.

It’s this partnership which is also evident in the upcoming ministry of Deacon Sarfaraz Pinto of Markham’s St. Thomas the Apostle Church. His wife, Luiza, wiped away tears of joy as she spoke of her husband’s accomplishment.

“It touched me. I wanted him to work for the Lord,” she said before the ceremony.

During the four years of study, Luiza said she journeyed with her husband, studying together, praying together and “growing stronger” in their marriage.

Luiza was joined by her sons Fahad, 26, and Frederick, 19, who expressed their family’s joy and commitment in supporting their father.

It’s this kind of support that Maureen MacInnis said she and her family are also eager to provide her husband, David.

“This is a dream fulfilled. It’s been something he’s been praying about for many years when I first met him,” she said.

David, 51, hopes to work with street people and the elderly in Oshawa.

“I felt a call to assist people in need, people that are hurting and to be of service to the Church,” he said.

“A deacon is presence for those who otherwise have no one, someone to listen and support them,” Maureen said.

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