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Bishop Burbidge ordains five new deacons

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Some hear their call through their loved ones. Others may receive confirmation in a far-off land. Yet no matter how they came to their answer, five men answered the call to be permanent deacons in the Diocese of Arlington.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the Mass of Ordination of five permanent deacons — Felipe Tubil Averia, Malcolm Louis D’Souza, Kenneth Joseph Galvin, Anthony Joseph Renzette and Peter Andrew Reyda — at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington Jan. 12.

“They finished their formation in the year of the 50th anniversary of the reinstitution of the permanent diaconate in the United States,” said Father Paul D. Scalia, episcopal vicar for clergy and director of the Diaconate Formation Program, in an interview before the event. “I think they represent a maturation of the process of formation and our understanding of the permanent diaconate and how we are forming them for the three-fold ministry of the word, the altar and of charity.” 

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge asked the deacons to reflect on three words — selected, sent and stay.

“Say ‘present’ to the Lord each day, ever confident that the One who selected you will strengthen you,” he said. “Ordination instructions highlight the word ‘go’. Go and bring glad tidings to the poor. Go and heal the broken hearted. Go out to the world and proclaim the Good News.”

Bishop Burbidge told the deacons they are called to imitate Jesus. “It is in that going that you bring his compassion, his love and light, especially to those in most need,” he said.

“With God’s grace and the help of Our Blessed Mother, rejoice daily in knowing that you have been chosen by God, the One who sends you forth to imitate his Son, the one who came not to be served but to serve — but of course, only after you have responded to the invitation to stay with him; to abide in him. For only then, will you be able say each day: ‘Present. Here I am Lord. Here I am.’

Mary Galvin, daughter of Deacon Ken Galvin, “he’s always been such a father figure to me and it’s almost like we as a family are donating him to be a father figure for a lot of other people,” she said of her father. “He is such a good father and he is going to be such a good person of the church.”

Rowena Averia, wife of Deacon Felipe Tubil Averia, said she was very excited the ordination was finally here. “(The formation process) made us closer as a family,” she said. “We pray together and it’s a journey for both of us.”

Deacon Ken Galvin

Deacon Ken Galvin, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, had to look no further than his wife and her father for inspiration to become a deacon. Deacon Galvin, who looks forward to seeing how God’s plan unfolds, said his late father-in-law, Deacon Michael Kronschnable, was “an excellent example of discipleship and a joyful servant of Jesus who I hope to emulate.”

Deacon Galvin said his wife, Chris, is his best mentor.

“Her unique perspective as the daughter of a deacon and her devotion to our family, and our parish family, is a constant source of wisdom and insight,” he said. “It was my kids' support of their imperfect dad that gave me the courage to give my ‘fiat.’”

Deacon Malcom D’Souza

For Deacon Malcom D’Souza, a parishioner of Holy Spirit Church in Annandale, the call to the diaconate grew from a gentle nudge from God to something more persistent. A father of four, Deacon D’Souza wasn’t quite ready to answer the call until 2012.

“It was at the tomb of St. John Paul II in Rome where it hit me the hardest to stop being afraid and answer this call to become a deacon,” he said. “It was then a gradual process of deep prayer, discernment and formation that led me to this awesome point in my life.”

Deacon D’Souza was a high school football official in Northern Virginia for 15 years. “Over those years, I pushed away the gentle nudge from God because I was ready to advance to the collegiate football officiating level, but somehow something always interrupted that progress,” he said. “Finally, an injury to my legs allowed me the time to seriously consider this calling to the diaconate, and returning from Rome, I made the initial inquiry into the diaconate formation program.” 

Deacon D’Souza, who attended St. Anthony of Padua School in Falls Church and Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, has been supported by his family and parish. “My Holy Spirit family is an extraordinary source of encouragement through their prayers and constant reassurance,” he said.

Deacon Peter Andrew Reyda

For Peter Andrew Reyda, his was a persistent call from a fellow St. Timothy Church Deacon Jim Hepler and Father Gerald Weymes, the pastor at the time. The first invitation came while Deacon Reyda was helping sell Christmas trees for the Knights of Columbus. “I kind of laughed it off,” said Deacon Reyda. “(Deacon Hepler) asked me again a few months later.”

Then it was Father Weymes’ turn to ask. This encouraged Deacon Reyda to pray, seek spiritual direction and affirm what he thought about becoming a deacon. Father Weymes asked again — a little more forcefully. “He said stop discerning and go apply,” said Deacon Reyda.

“I think without this journey I wouldn’t have learned or grown to trust Christ the way I’ve come to trust him now,” he said.

Deacon Felipe Tubil Averia

Growing up in the Philippines, Deacon Felipe Tubil “Ping” Averia wanted to be a priest. He and his brothers were altar servers and active in youth groups. The entire family always was involved in lay communities. “It was natural for my wife and I to join Families in Christ Jesus Community (FCJC),” he said. “The desire to serve the Lord and his people always remained in me, and I believe the call was consistently there. It was more dependent on me — when I will finally say ‘yes’ to the call.”

That “yes” came after a conversation with Deacon Ralph Poyo from Raleigh, N.C., whom he met at summer conferences at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. Deacon Averia told Deacon Poyo of his desire to become a deacon four years earlier. “I intended it to be the end of the casual conversation and was preparing to leave when he asked, ‘what stopped you?’” said Deacon Averia. “I told him that I talked to the FCJC elders about it at that time and that, in the end, the thought of losing the youth ministry stopped me from proceeding. Deacon Poyo said, ‘That’s what you want, but what about what God wants?’”

Deacon Averia said the answers from the Lord were clear. “The permanent diaconate is the next level of service for me,” he said.

Deacon Anthony Renzette

Deacon Anthony Renzette is looking forward to seeing how God will use him as a servant to the church. He’s done various types of ministry, ranging from teen ministry and WorkCamp, to teaching CCD, and helping in a local food ministry in his parish. “Every one of these has been wonderful and very rewarding and I’m equally curious and excited to learn what God has in store next,” he said.

Deacon Renzette appreciated the interest of his family in his diaconate formation. “Their questions and conversations throughout the process have been great,” he said. “It has been a great blessing knowing that my family not only supports the work I was doing in formation, but also took a great interest in such a large part of my life.”


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019