Meet the new permanent deacons

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Albert A. Anderson Jr.

Albert A. Anderson Jr., 65, was born in Norfolk, Va., and has been a parishioner of St. Joseph Church in Alexandria for 20 years. He graduated from Norfolk Catholic High School in 1963 and earned an associate's degree in data processing and accounting from Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale in 1982.

Anderson has worked in accounting throughout the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., area and currently is senior accountant for the American Petroleum Institute in Washington.

He and his wife, Beverly, were married in 1969 and have a daughter and a son.

Anderson graduated from the Education for Parish Service program at Trinity University in Washington in 2006. He teaches confirmations classes at St. Joseph and serves as an acolyte and lector. He is co-chair of the parish pro-life committee, chairman of the finance committee, ad hoc member of the parish council, and a past grand Knight and current Knights of Columbus trustee. He also assists with Arlington diocesan Office of Multicultural Ministries' black Catholic ministries.

Anderson was involved in the "New Beginnings" program at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center in Alexandria and is a past board member of the Washington affiliate of the National Black Catholic Apostolate for Life.

Dale Avery

Dale Avery, 55, was born in Bethlehem, Pa., and has been parishioner of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax for seven years. He graduated from Tempe High School in Tempe, Ariz., in 1973 and earned a bachelor's in economics from Arizona State University in Tempe in 1977 and a master's in economics from the University of Michigan, Dearborn, in 1983. Between studies, he worked a summer in rural Tanzania and another in the Philippines.

Avery and his wife, Sheila, were married in 1981 and have a daughter and a son. The family moved to Northern Virginia in 1984, then lived in South Africa from 1986-88. Avery has worked as a manager and economist for the federal government in the Washington area since 1984.

Avery converted to Catholicism in 1995 after his then-6-year-old son recovered from cancer. He is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, a sacristan and a lector at the 6:30 a.m. daily Mass at St. Mary of Sorrows. He also teaches religious education and is a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults catechist and sponsor.

Alberto G. Bernaola

Alberto G. Bernaola, 56, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has been a parishioner of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church in Fredericksburg for seven years. He graduated from Santa Monica High School in San Juan in 1971 and earned a bachelor's in religion from St. Leo University in St. Leo, Fla., in 2002. He is in the process of earning a master's degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in New Orleans.

He and his wife, Miralba, were married in 1974 and have two sons and a daughter.

Bernaola, who served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years, currently is a manager of the Social Security Administration teleservice center in Manassas.

He organizes the St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Hispanic ministry and serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, catechist, lector and acolyte. He is also a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus. Prior to his service in the Arlington Diocese, Bernaola worked with the Hispanic ministry at St. Joseph Church in Hampton, Va., and served as vice president of the Richmond Diocese Hispanic Commission.

Steve Dixon

Steve Dixon, 64, was born in Washington and has been a parishioner of St. Rita Church in Alexandria for nearly 60 years. He was adopted through Catholic Charities in Richmond when he was 6 months old. Dixon attended St. John Vianney Minor Seminary in Richmond his freshman year of high school and gradated from Francis C. Hammond High School in Alexandria in 1964.

Dixon earned an associate's in business administration from Strayer Junior College in Washington in 1966 and a bachelor's in business administration from Southeastern University in Washington in 1969. He graduated from the Institute of Financial Educations' School for Executive Development at the University of Georgia in 1981.

Dixon and his wife, Thana, were married in 1969 at St. Rita. The couple has twin daughters.

After nearly 40 years in the financial services industry, Dixon retired from Freddie Mac in 2006. He currently is a substitute teacher in Alexandria public schools.

Dixon has been active at St. Rita since childhood, serving as lector, cantor, altar server, youth group adviser and vice president of St. Rita School PTA. He has been the lector coordinator at the parish for more than 10 years and has served as extraordinary minister of holy Communion and catechist. He is a member of the parish pastoral council and hospitality committee and is a third-degree Knight of Columbus with the Edward Douglass White Council in Arlington.

Tom Fursman

Tom Fursman, 61, was born in Minneapolis and has been a parishioner of St. Isidore the Farmer Church in Orange since 2002, the year the parish was established as a result of a merger between St. Mark Parish in Gordonsville and St. John Parish in Orange. Fursman and his wife, Jackie, whom he married in 1970, previously were parishioners of St. Mark. The couple has two sons and one daughter.

Fursman graduated from Cooper Senior High School in New Hope, Minn., in 1967, joined the U.S. Navy in 1968 and was selected for officer training in 1971. He graduated in 1974 from Marquette University in Milwaukee with a bachelor's in electrical engineering. During his Navy career, Fursman was stationed throughout the United States and commanded two nuclear attack submarines and a submarine training facility. He retired from the Navy in 1999.

Since 2002, Fursman has worked as office manager of St. Isidore, in addition to serving the parish as lector, cantor and extraordinary minister of holy Communion. He also plays guitar in the choir, teaches confirmation and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes, and assists with summer Bible study and continuing catechesis for parish teens.

Paul Gregory

Paul Gregory, 58, was born in North Syracuse, N.Y., and has been a parishioner of St. Mathew Church in Spotsylvania for 23 years. He attended North Syracuse Central High School and Herndon High School in Herndon, Va., graduating in 1971.

He earned a bachelor's in history in 1975 from the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington and a master's in national security affairs/Middle East and Africa studies from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., in 1986.

He and his wife, Melissa, were married in 1975 and have a daughter and a son.

Gregory served in the U.S. Army from 1975-98, working as an armor officer, a foreign area officer with a Middle East specialty and in military intelligence. He has been program director for BAE Systems in McLean since 2004.

He is a fourth-degree Knight of Columbus in the Bishop John R. Keating Council in Spotsylvania and is a past grand Knight. He led a high school youth program called "Faith Alive" from 2003-05 and has been a spiritual adviser for the St. Faustina Conference of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul since 2007. He also is involved in the Good Samaritan Home Visitation Ministry, teaches religious education and assists with collection counting at St. Mathew.

Jose J. Lopez

Jose J. Lopez, 58, was born in Rivas, Nicaragua, and has been a parishioner of St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax for 33 years. Following 11th grade, he moved to the United States to study English. After he received his GED diploma he studied business management at Northern Virginia Community College.

He and his wife, Josefa, were married at St. Agnes Parish in Arlington in 1979 and have two daughters. Lopez and Josefa co-founded a regional commercial janitorial company in 1978. Lopez was president and CEO of the business until last year.

He was the Hispanic liaison at St. Philip Parish in Falls Church, 1981-89, and has been the Hispanic liaison and coordinator at St. Leo the Great since 1991. He also is a coordinator of the Hispanic Jail Ministry at the Fairfax County Detention Center, a member of the Cursillo movement in the diocese, president of the Institute of John Paul II in Nicaragua, past grand Knight of Columbus and a marriage mentor for Hispanics in the diocese.

John J. McClay

John J. McClay, 54, was born in Alexandria and has been a parishioner of St. Patrick Church in Fredericksburg for 22 years. He graduated in 1974 from T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria. McClay has worked in the printing industry for more than 35 years, including at Old Dominion Printing in Alexandria. He has worked at Master Print Inc. in Newington since 1983.

McClay and his wife, Margaret, were married at St. Rita Church in Alexandria in 1975 and have two daughters, one of whom is a Benedictine sister, and one son.

McClay converted to the Faith in 1993. He has been involved with the St. Patrick youth group, chaperoning during World Youth Day in 1993, and has assisted with vocation discernment retreats. McClay is a lector, acolyte, member of the Legion of Mary and a Knight of Columbus in the Battlefield Council in Chancellorsville. He also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and takes Communion to the homebound.

Jeff Meyers

Jeff Meyers, 46, was born in Frankfort, Germany, and has been a parishioner of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax for 13 years. He graduated in 1983 from Carlisle Senior High School in Carlisle, Pa. Meyers earned a bachelor's in management from the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, 1987; a master's in management from the Florida Institute of Technology, Arlington campus, 1990; and a master's in acquisition management from the Florida Institute of Technology, 1992.

He is a certified professional contract manager and completed his diaconal training through Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College in Alexandria. Meyers and his wife, Kristen, married in 1992 and have two sons.

He has worked as a contracting officer for the General Services Administration in Arlington since 1987 and is currently acting director for the medium and heavy vehicles division in acquisition operations.

Meyers is a seventh-grade religious education teacher; extraordinary minister of holy Communion, taking Communion to the sick and homebound; and sacristan. He also assists with the parish food pantry and at Masses as an altar server and acolyte.

Cong T. Nguyen

Cong T. Nguyen, 55, was born in Vietnam and has been a parishioner of St. Philip Church in Falls Church for more than 20 years. He graduated in 1973 from a high school in the Ninh Thuan Province in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1977. He earned a bachelor's in electronics engineering from Capital College in Laurel, Md., in 1987. He has worked as an engineer for Sprint Communications Corp. and Global One in Reston and for the Department of Justice since 2003.

Nguyen and his wife, Antoinette, were married in 1983 at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Church in Arlington and have one son and two daughters.

Nguyen served as a parish council secretary and as volunteer rectory secretary at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam and was a sacristan, lector, catechist and choir member. He also was part of the maintenance and construction team that renovated Holy Martyrs of Vietnam, 1980-83. A parishioner of St. Philip since 1990, Nguyen has served as extraordinary minister of holy Communion, lector and sacristan. He also has been a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Paul Ochenkowski

Paul Ochenkowski, 61, was born in New Haven, Conn., and has been a parishioner of St. Veronica Church in Chantilly for eight years. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in West Haven, Conn., in 1967, earned a bachelor's in history from the University of Virginia in 1971 and a master's in history from Harvard University in 1977. He served as a U.S. Navy Supply Corps officer for 26 years and retired in 1997 as a Navy captain. While in the Navy he served in Vietnam, and he was present during the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Ochenkowski has taught social studies at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington since he retired from the Navy, and he currently teaches advanced placement history and is chairman of the social studies department. He and his wife, Mary Lynne, were married in 1987.

Ochenkowski has served as a Catholic lay leader on two Navy ships and sang in several church choirs at Navy duty stations. He serves as a lector at daily Mass at O'Connell and as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at student Masses. He also is a lector at St. Veronica.

Dave Powers

Dave Powers, 55, was born in Little Rock, Ark., and has been a parishioner of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield for seven years. He graduated from Memphis Catholic High School in Memphis, Tenn., in 1973. He earned an associate's in administration of justice from Monterey Peninsula College, Monterey, Calif., 1975; a bachelor's in criminal justice from California State University, Sacramento, 1977; a master's in management from Webster University in St. Louis, 1981; and a doctorate in management from California Coast University in Santa Ana, 1994. He is working on a master's in theology from Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College.

He and his wife, Susan, were married in 1986 and have three daughters and one son.

Powers joined the Army in 1978 and served for more than seven years as a military police commissioned officer, completing military service at Fort McClellan in Alabama as a captain in 1985. For the last 21 plus years, Powers has worked as a Department of the Army civilian. He is now an Army Acquisition Corps member and manages the Army's Force Management System Project from Fort Belvoir.

Powers is a Knight of Columbus, serving two years as grand Knight, and has been involved with the prison ministry at the Stafford Detention Center. He has served as a member of the "Welcome Wagon" committee at St. Raymond of Peñafort and is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. He has taught religious education classes, led youth groups and served as lector. Powers previously was parish council president for St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Fort Monroe, Va., and was involved in peace and justice issues while working at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Joseph Santiago

Joseph Santiago, 50, was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and has been a parishioner of Holy Family Church in Dale City for 13 years. He graduated from Regis High School in New York City in 1979. He earned a bachelor's in political science with a minor in theology from Fordham University in New York in 1983 and a master's of public administration with a concentration in public finance from New York University in 1986.

He and his wife, Damaris, were married in 1991 and have a daughter and a son.

Santiago taught fourth grade at St. John Vianney Catholic School in New York and since 1987 has worked for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, first in New York and now at the national headquarters in Washington.

He has served as a lector, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, religious education teacher, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults catechist and as a confirmation retreat facilitator. He also is a third-degree Knight of Columbus with the John Paul I Council in Dale City and provides training for Spanish-speaking catechists.

Marques Silva

Marques Silva, 40, was born in Indianapolis and has been a parishioner of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax for 22 years. He graduated in 1989 from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax and in 1993 from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, with a bachelor's in mental health and human services and a minor in theology.

Marques and his wife, Christine, were married in 1994 and have four children.

He was youth director and assistant director of religious education at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Great Falls and has worked in development for the Salesians of Don Bosco in Arlington and Aid to the Church in Russia in McLean. Silva also was executive director of Exodus Youth Services in Fairfax. He currently is senior account executive of Pulsar Advertising in Alexandria.

Silva serves as a catechist, sacristan and extraordinary minister of holy Communion; leads a Thursday evening men's group; assists with a retreat for those facing serious illnesses; and leads a monthly festival of praise at St. Leo the Great Parish in Fairfax. He also has been involved with youth ministry and marriage mentoring.

John A. Wagner

John A. Wagner, 66, was born in Newark, N.J., and has been a parishioner of St. John Neumann Church in Reston for 31 years. He graduated from Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, Ohio, in 1962. Wagner earned a bachelor's in political science from St. Peter's College in Jersey City, N.J., in 1967 and a master's in conflict management from George Mason University in Fairfax in 1988.

Wagner and his wife, Joyce, were married in 1971 and have two sons.

He volunteered with the Peace Corps in Dominica in the Caribbean, and he began a career with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in 1973, eventually working as special assistant to the national director. He became director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution and International Affairs Division in 1987, providing conflict management services nationally and internationally. He currently assists clients with conflict management and organizational improvement part-time.

Wagner is chair of the St. John Neumann religious education committee and was co-coordinator, along with his wife, of confirmation preparation. He also assists with marriage preparation and is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, acolyte and lector.

Robert Warner

Robert Warner, 44, was born in New York City and has been a parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge for more than 15 years. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Long Island, N.Y., in 1984. Warner graduated from Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., with a degree in political science in 1988 and received a commission as second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.

He trained as an infantry company commander at the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico and as an artillery officer in Oklahoma before reporting to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He served as a Marine infantry officer in the Persian Gulf War, 1991, and in Panama, 1989. He retired from the Marine Corps Reserve as a lieutenant colonel in 2008.

After working on Capitol Hill for several years, Warner received a fellowship in Germany from the Robert Bosch Foundation, which gave him the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. When he returned from Germany, Warner worked for Scitor Corp. as a defense contractor from the Pentagon. He is currently a federal employee working for the director of national intelligence.

Warner and his wife, Eileen, were married in 1994 and have one daughter and one son.

He helps runs the baptism preparation classes at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and leads a group that ministers to the sick. He also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and is head lector.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2011