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Permanent deacons emerge from all walks of life

    Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond will ordain 20 men to the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of New Orleans Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. at St. Louis Cathedral.
    The diaconate Class of 2012 includes married men from virtually every part of the archdiocese, which currently enjoys the service of 213 permanent deacons. The United States has nearly half of all permanent deacons in the worldwide Catholic Church, with 17,289 men serving in the U.S. out of a global total of 39,564.
    Another 23 men are aspirants in formation for the archdiocese’s Class of 2015, said Deacon Ray Duplechain, director of the Office of Permanent Diaconate.
    The deacon candidates spend many years in formation and training. After a one-year period of inquiry and discernment, the men spend one year as “aspirants,” deepening their human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation for ministry, followed by three years of candidacy, which is designed to confirm the presence of a vocation.
    That process leads to a petition to the archbishop to be ordained to the order of deacon in the Catholic Church.
    The permanent diaconate as an ordained ministry was restored by the Second Vatican Council with the 1964 promulgation of “Lumen Gentium,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. In 1967, Pope Paul VI implemented the council’s intention by promulgating the apostolic letter “Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem,” and the U.S. bishops petitioned the Vatican in 1968 to restore the diaconate in this country.
    In 1972, Archbishop Philip M. Hannan authorized a formation program for permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and the first class was ordained in 1974.
    Formation for diaconal ministry requires a lifelong commitment to deepening one’s relationships and acceptance of God’s will for a life of ministry. It leads a person to answer the universal call to holiness in a particular service to the people of God.
    Permanent deacons offer service in parishes, hospital, prisons, social service programs and many other Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Their sacramental ministry includes proclaiming the Gospel, preaching, presiding at Communion services, witnessing marriages, presiding at funeral rites and conferring baptism.

Meet the Class of 2012


DEACON RICHARD ABBONDANTE and his wife Diane have been married for 34 years. They have two daughters – Lisa Abbondante Horzelski (married to Shan Horzelski) and Kristen Abbondante – and one granddaughter, Talyn Horzelski. Deacon Abbondante and his wife grew up in the New York-New Jersey area and moved to Louisiana in 1982. They joined Ascension of Our Lord Church in LaPlace, where they volunteered on various committees for the parish and school. Deacon Abbondante has been assigned to St. Peter in Reserve, where he began serving as an acolyte in August. For the past 20 years, Deacon Abbondante has volunteered as a National Certified Referee for U.S. Swimming. He attended Seton Hall Prep High School and Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., where he received a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He works for CDL, a professional engineering firm, in Baton Rouge. Diane has retired following a 26-year career in nursing.
“The road to holiness is not easier just because I will be ordained a deacon,” Deacon Abbondante said. “It was not always a comfortable path, but one in which God has continued to send his graces and his Holy Spirit to guide me and give me strength.”


DEACON WARREN BERAULT and his wife Kathy have been married for 43 years. They have four sons – Gregory, David, Michael and Matthew – daughters-in-law Stephanie and Shea, and six grandchildren. A member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Slidell, Deacon Berault attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in New Orleans and De La Salle High School, and he graduated from St. Joseph Seminary High School and College. He attended Notre Dame Seminary. He received a bachelor of science degree in urban studies from Southeastern Louisiana University and a master’s degree in urban studies from the University of New Orleans. He worked with the New Orleans Area Chamber of Commerce and became the first executive director of the New Orleans Downtown Development District. He served for 12 years as Slidell councilman. Kathy retired after teaching for 30 years at St. Margaret Mary School in Slidell. Deacon Berault has been a financial representative for The Northwestern Mutual Financial Network for the past 35 years.
    “I believe God puts us where he wants us, with whom he wants us and when he wants us to do his will,” Deacon Berault said. “It’s up to us to be open to his Holy Spirit to respond. I try to see the face of Christ in everyone I meet.”

DEACON STEVE COHAN and his wife Carol have been married for 20 years and have two married daughters, Sabrina and Deanna. Since moving to Louisiana from Nashville 19 years ago, Deacon Cohan and his wife have been parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville. Deacon Cohan graduated from Father Ryan High School in Nashville and received an associate degree from Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tenn., majoring in business administration. Deacon Cohan has more than 25 years of sales and management experience in the food and confectionery industry and is the southeast region sales manager for New England Confectionery Company, headquartered in Revere, Mass.
    “As I prepare for the diaconate, the Lord continues to mold and shape me into the person he wants me to become,” Deacon Cohan said. “His call has been challenging and very rewarding. God is good, ever caring, and his love is never ending. He is with me always.”


DEACON KEVIN J. DARRAH SR. and his wife Christine have been married for nine years. They have four children – Kaitlin, Kevin Jr., Brooke and Ryan. Deacon Darrah and his family are members of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Metairie. A native of New Orleans, Deacon Darrah attended St. John Vianney Preparatory High School. He completed his freshman year at St. Joseph’s Seminary College before graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame. Deacon Darrah has served as a special agent and pilot for the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the past 17 years.
    “I find God is directing me to not be afraid on this journey by calling me to let go and trust where he leads me,” Deacon Darrah said.

DEACON RICHARD EASON and his wife Rosalyn have been married for 33 years. They have three sons – Blake, Kyle and Grant. Deacon Eason is an attorney with the law firm of Adams and Reese, LLP. Rosalyn serves as the religion coordinator at St. Ann School and volunteers as a court-appointed special advocate for Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court. Deacon Eason and Rosalyn wish to thank Father Michael Schneller, Father Luke Nguyen, Msgr. Chris Nalty, Deacon Phil Doolen, Deacon Ray Bertin, Deacon Tom Fox, Deacon Mike Stohlman, Deacon Terry Manieri and his wife Dottie, Deacon Jim Swiler, and Deacon Ray Duplechain for their guidance in the formation process.
    “His Holy Spirit has taken over control of my life, and he is guiding me in all that I do each day,” Deacon Eason said.


W. GERARD GAUTRAU of St. Rose has been married to his wife Laura for 36 years, and they have three children – Preston, Douglas and Meredith Gautrau Hebert – and one grandchild, Mila Gautrau. Laura is a retired pre-K teacher. Deacon Gautrau is the son of Walter and Rosemary Gautrau,  both deceased. He was born in New Orleans, where he attended St. Alphonsus Elementary and Redemptorist High School in the Irish Channel. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of New Orleans in 1975 and is a CPA. Deacon Gautrau is chief financial officer for several corporations at Fountain Park Centre in Harvey. He has been a member of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Destrehan for the last 30 years.
    “There is an ever-present awareness of a new spiritual responsibility coupled with nervous anticipation and a realization that only through the Holy Spirit am I able to answer this life-changing call,” Deacon Gautrau said. “Christ leads and I humbly and prayerfully follow.”

GUILLORYDEACON ABNER J. GUILLORY and his wife Fatima have been married for 39 years and have two daughters – Christina and Anitra – and two granddaughters – Madeleine and Felicity. Deacon Guillory is a member of St. Anselm in Madisonville. He is a native of the Opelousas area, where he attended public schools. He received a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Deacon Guillory spent the first part of his professional career in Orlando, Fla., working for Martin Marietta. After 16 months, he transferred to New Orleans, where he retired after working for nearly 30 years in many different capacities in both New Orleans and Houston for Shell Oil Company. He has since worked as a consultant for both Shell and other consulting firms. 
    “As I prepare for diaconate ordination,” Deacon Guillory said, “I feel that God is giving me the grace to be even more prayerful than I was before and to read Scripture with more understanding, and he is giving me the desire to read even more about being a Christian and the will to help people with their spiritual needs as I further develop spiritually. I am now beginning to feel a sense of peace that I am doing God’s will. I am learning to trust him even more, because with him I can do anything he asks of me.”


DEACON TIMOTHY JACKSON and his wife Paula have been married for 27 years and have four children – Joshua, Ann, Lisa and Rebecca – and two grandchildren – Angelena Addie and Cole Anthony. Deacon Jackson and his family have been parishioners at Mary Queen of Peace Parish in Mandeville for 15 years. Deacon Jackson graduated from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge and received a bachelor of science degree in general business administration from the University of New Orleans. He worked in the private sector for 15 years at Commercial Marine in Chalmette, where he served as office administrator and parts manager. He spent nine years with the state of Louisiana as the procurement director for Southeast Louisiana Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Mandeville. Deacon Jackson is currently the operations manager for Dameron Pierson, a locally owned office environment and office product company in Metairie.
    “I feel God’s presence telling me to go where he leads me and not to worry, because he will be right there with me every step of the way giving me wisdom and direction,” Deacon Jackson said.

DEACON BRIAN MCKNIGHT and his wife Denise have been married for 14 years and have three children – Brian II, Ashleigh and Cameron. They are parishioners at Divine Mercy Parish and formerly attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Kenner and Our Lady of Divine Providence Church in Metairie. Deacon McKnight was born in New Orleans and grew up in Metairie. He attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of Divine Providence elementary schools and Bonnabel High School in Kenner. He received an associate degree in fire science at Delgado Community College. His life in public service spans 24 years as a reserve deputy sheriff with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and more than 36 years in the fire service, attaining the rank of assistant fire chief for the Kenner Fire Department.
    “God has moved my life closer to my brothers and sisters who hunger and thirst for his loving touch and word,” Deacon McKnight said. “He has helped me to recognize that my dying of self in Christ is the rising of new hope for others whom I serve as Christ would serve.”

DEACON CARLO MANIGLIA and his wife Debbie have been married for 38 years. They have two married children – Angela M. Hon, who lives in Atlanta, and Philip, who lives in New Orleans. Deacon Maniglia and Debbie are members of St. Clement of Rome Parish in Metairie. Deacon Maniglia was born in New Orleans and attended Incarnate Word, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and St. Lawrence the Martyr  elementary schools and St. Aloysius High School. He served in the U.S. Navy. He was an Eagle Scout and a past president of the Dawnbusters Kiwanis Club, having served the community for 30 years. Deacon Maniglia is retired.
    “I feel a constant movement toward serving God’s people,” Deacon Maniglia said. “I have been blessed, and now God needs me to serve others.”

MIRANDADEACON PETER J. MIRANDA and his wife Jill have been married for 37 years. They have a son – Jarett (married to Amanda) – and a daughter – Melissa Bertucci (married to Evan) – and four granddaughters (Lola, Sofia, Mia and Emma). Deacon Miranda and his wife are members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Slidell, where they have resided for the last 33 years. Deacon Miranda grew up in St. Leo the Great and St. Raphael the Archangel parishes in New Orleans. He attended St. Rose de Lima and Gentilly Terrace elementary schools, Gregory Junior High School and John F. Kennedy Sr. High School. He was previously employed by Winn Dixie for more than 17 years in different levels of management, and he recently retired from the USDA-National Finance Center after 23 years of service in supervisory and program analyst positions.
    “God has called me into a closer relationship with him,” Deacon Miranda said. “This relationship, although personal, is one which sends forth and will guide me in the service of his people, especially the poor and forgotten.”

DEACON DANIEL P. MUSSO was raised on the Westbank, attended Christ the King Elementary School and De La Salle High School and graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University. Deacon Musso lives in Bush with his wife Lisa. They have three children, one daughter-in-law and one grandchild. Deacon Musso is a member of St. Benedict Parish, the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus. He is a corporate account director for Alere.
    “Now, more than ever before, I am keenly aware of my total dependence on God’s love, forgiveness and grace,” Deacon Musso said. “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in his name and willingly remain open to his direction.”

DEACON QUINSINIANO (QUIN) ORTEGA and his wife Minerva have been married for 40 years. They have one child – Juan Gabriel. They are members of Immaculate Conception Parish in Marrero. Deacon Ortega is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he attended Albert Einstein High School, Inter-American University and World University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting. He retired from the U.S. Army in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina, Quin worked for two years with Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans in community centers, serving the needs of the community. He served in Immaculate Conception Parish as coordinator of the Hispanic community, the CCD and RCIA programs for the Hispanic community, and was a member of the pastoral council for several years. He serves at Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Parish in the Bywater.
    “This past week I had to visit my sister in Puerto Rico because she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer,” Deacon Ortega said. “Through prayers and trusting in God’s mercy, I still can feel the peace I received and was able to share with her and my other siblings during this stressful time.”


DEACON ANDREW RASPINO SR. was born and raised in New Orleans. He attended St. John Vianney Preparatory High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of New Orleans. Deacon Raspino relocated to the Washington, D.C., area in the 1990s, where he served as a police officer for Arlington County, Va. Since returning to Louisiana, he has been employed in the property and casualty insurance industry. Deacon Raspino and his wife Lisa have been married for 22 years and have three sons – Andrew Jr., Samuel and Zachary. They live on the northshore, where they are parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville. In his spare time, Deacon Raspino enjoys running, cycling, camping and backpacking.
    “It is a bittersweet time preparing for ordination as I mourn the loss of my father on Nov. 14,” Deacon Raspino said. “Yet it is through the grace of God and the prayers of many that I am consoled and strengthened. It is these gifts of comfort and hope that I aspire to pay forward in ministry to others.”

SCHNEIDERDEACON CHRIS SCHNEIDER and his wife Sharon have been married for 27 years, and they have four children – Morrow, Brit, Alexandra and Jon. They are parishioners of St. Margaret Mary Church in Slidell, where Deacon Schneider attended RCIA, joining the Catholic Church in 1999. He is a graduate of The St. Paul’s School and also attended the University of New Orleans. A music performer, producer and recording studio owner for the past 34 years, Deacon Schneider remains active in the arts and entertainment industry. Since 1995, Deacon Schneider has been the director of plant operations at the family-owned business, St. Joe Brick Works, in Pearl River.
    “I have experienced myself letting go of control, handing over the reins by placing them into the hands of God,” Deacon Schneider said. “He guided me this far, even with me struggling to control. How much better it will be to give him the ‘yes’ to move my life.”


DEACON JIM SIMMONS and his wife Peggy have been married for 28 years. They have two sons – James and Jean-Pierre. Deacon Simmons is a member of Immaculate Conception Church in Marrero, where he and his family relocated following Hurricane Katrina. Previously they had attended Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church in Chalmette for 21 years. Deacon Simmons became a Catholic through the RCIA program in 2004. He was born and raised in northern Virginia, earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from the University of Southwestern Louisiana and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Tulane University. He has taught in college, worked in the computing field and currently works as the director of academic computing programs for Tulane University’s School of Continuing Studies.
    “Through the formation process, I have become more aware of God’s continual presence in my life and more willing to respond to the needs of those around me,” Deacon Simmons said.

SMITHDEACON TROY A. SMITH and his wife Yvonne have been married for 32 years. They have two children – Mariah and Troy II (married to Tammy) – and five grandchildren – Callie, Colbie, Kennedie, Troy III and Noah. Deacon Smith graduated from Salmen High School in Slidell and attended Dillard University. He is a lifelong member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Slidell, where he has served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and a reader. He has served in youth ministry and led a large group of parishioners on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, in 2007. Deacon Smith and his wife also have an extensive relationship with St. Genevieve Parish (St. Linus) in Slidell because both of their families lived in the community for generations, where they were involved in youth ministry and catechetical instruction. Deacon Smith has been employed by Lockheed Martin for the past 32 years, first with the Space Shuttle’s external tank project and presently with the space systems program at Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
    “Through trials and triumphs, I see God shaping my life in ways to better serve him,” Deacon Smith said. “Following him may not always be easy, but it is, without a question, worth it.”


    DEACON CHARLES SWIFT and his wife Charlene have been married for 36 years. They have two sons – Charles Richard II and Jon Marc – and a married daughter (widowed) – Emily Elizabeth Jones (son-in-law Jacob is deceased). They also have two granddaughters, Sarah and Ann. Deacon Swift and Charlene were parishioners of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Mandeville until recently assigned to Most Holy Trinity Parish in Covington. Deacon Swift attended St. Joseph Seminary for high school, received a bachelor of science degree in education from Nicholls State University in 1972 and an MBA from Emory University in 1988. Deacon Swift worked in the Bell System and retired from Avaya in 2000. He now works part-time for his son at Centurion Risk Associates, a class administration settlement company.
    “God is calling me to serve his people with my limitations and inadequacies, and somehow through the power of the Holy Spirit, I say yes,” Deacon Swift said.


    DEACON LIEU (LEO) TRAN and Van-Ha have been married for 30 years and have three sons –Jonathan-Vu, Michael-Dzung and Nicholas-Quang. They are members of St. Jerome Parish in Kenner. Prior to joining St. Jerome Parish, Deacon Tran was member of the pastoral council at Our Lady of La Vang Mission. He was born in Vietnam and entered the United States as a Boat People refugee in 1975. He was fortunate to have come here but sadly had left all his immediate family behind. In Vietnam, he attended Sao-Bien and Lam-Bich seminaries in the Diocese of Nha Trang. He received a bachelor of science degree from Loyola University New Orleans and a master of science degree from Tulane University. He is employed at Tulane University in the information technology field.
    “I entered the diaconate formation with much trepidation, even with a strong sense of God calling me to follow him,” Deacon Tran said. “The times in the formation and the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in our group along with the support of the community of deacons have strengthened my faith, allowing me to see more clearly what God wants me to be, a true servant of Christ.”


    DEACON ROBERTO ZAMBRANO and his wife Olga have been married for 23 years and have one son, Luis. They are members of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Slidell. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Both Deacon Zambrano and his wife are chemical engineers. Olga is the Hispanic ministry leader at St. Margaret Mary Church and also is member of Catholics Returning Home and Adult Faith Life ministries. Deacon Zambrano has 31 years of experience in the oil refinery industry in various technical and supervisory roles. He currently works at the Shell Motiva Norco Refinery.
    “I think God is moving me to reach out to the sick and their families,” Deacon Zambrano said. “To minister to the sick is an intimate encounter with Christ who touches not only the sick person but the minister he uses as an instrument of his mercy.”

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