Meet the Class of 2022 deacon candidates
FORT WORTH — Ten permanent deacons will be ordained for the Diocese of Fort Worth on Wednesday, August 10, at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller. The Mass of Diaconate Ordination will be open to the public and livestreamed at FWdioc.org.
Please join us in prayer for these men, who have undergone five years of discernment and formation as they prepare to serve Christ's Church more deeply.
In advance of the Mass of Diaconate Ordination, we introduce the deacon candidates.
Dennis Brent Catlin, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Wichita Falls
Dennis Brent Catlin is married to Tracy LaDona Catlin. They have three adult children and six grandchildren. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Wichita Falls. A native of Iowa Park, he graduated from Iowa Park High School in 1979. After high school he worked for Catlin Drilling Company for twenty years and has been employed by the Wichita County Water Improvement from 2000 to the present. In addition to his job, he farms 75 acres and raises cattle and sheep.
Brent has served the Church in a number of ways. He has been a sponsor and catechist for RCIA. He and his wife Tracy have been active in the youth programs as leaders and catechists. Brent also serves as an acolyte, lector, and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.
The Calling to the Diaconate and Formation Experience
Brent first became aware of the diaconate some thirty-five years ago when a deacon was serving as pastoral administrator for Christ the King Parish in Iowa Park. “Even though I felt a very strong pull towards the diaconate, I didn’t think it was a possibility for me, given my lack of higher education and the busyness of being a husband and father to three young children. Caring for my children was a joy and a labor of love. I believe God wanted me to raise my children and see them graduate before he allowed me to enter the diaconate program.”
God’s timing is perfect, however. Years later, after many life experiences that seemed to point him towards greater service to our Lord, Deacon Jim Bindel invited him to explore and discern the diaconate. “It was then that the doors seemed to fly open. Initially, the decision wasn’t difficult, but because of the demands of diaconate formation, I soon discovered that I would have to make some adjustments to my life. God was calling me to make a choice between following my own ambitions and following Him in the diaconate. Shutting down my part-time excavator business and scaling back my farming operation proved to be a little more challenging than I anticipated. I loved what I was doing, but I love serving God more. I had to trust in God, and in His providence. He has provided for us and blessed us more than we ever dreamed.”
For Brent, formation has been a life-changing experience. “As my knowledge of the faith grows, so does my ability to explain and defend the Church teaching. The more I grow in my prayer life, the more I see Christ in the people around me, especially the poor and downtrodden. The more I serve the Church, the more I love her people. Christ has expanded my heart and given me a love for what He loves. I look forward to serving my God and my neighbors as a deacon.”
David Michael Kinch, St. Andrew, Fort Worth
David Kinch has been married to his wife Julie for twenty-seven years. They have three sons: Arthur, who recently graduated from St. Francis University; Joshua, who is currently attending Seton Hall University; and Nathan, who is presently being homeschooled by Julie. They are members of St. Andrew Parish in Fort Worth.
David grew up in Brownsville, Texas, where he attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and St. Joseph Academy. He worshiped at Sacred Heart Church where his father assisted as a deacon after being ordained to the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Brownsville. After high school, he enrolled at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth where he was actively involved in the TCU Catholic Community. David earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at TCU in English and history and went on to work in the field of information technology. For the last twelve years, David has worked in the IT department at TCU specializing in network security.
Over the years, David has served in various ministries at St. Andrew Parish. Within liturgy, he assisted as a reader and eucharistic minister. He served as a catechist helping teach RCIA for second graders, volunteered at the St. Andrew Food Pantry, and was a eucharistic minister to the homebound, visiting residents at Stonegate Nursing Center. David also participated in St. Andrew’s Men’s Bible Study and was an adult server helping with Thursday evening Adoration and Benediction. David’s family has always been actively involved as well, serving wherever there has been a need. David’s sons have participated as altar servers, readers, and ringers in handbells, while Julie has helped with vacation Bible school and the prayer shawl ministry.
The Calling to the Diaconate and Formation Experience
David first began to discern the call to the diaconate one Sunday during Mass at St. Andrew while praying for vocations to the priesthood and the diaconate. At that moment, he felt a prompting telling him this was something he could do. While there was no active diaconate formation program at that time, David began to become more involved in serving within the parish. Several years later, his wife Julie found a notice in the bulletin about an inquiry session at the Catholic Center for those wanting to learn more about the permanent diaconate. After attending that Saturday with about one hundred other men, David began to travel a path that led to the formal path of diaconate formation.
David has found the time during formation to be very enriching. While David has always enjoyed studying Scripture and other theological studies, he is especially thankful for the opportunities during formation to serve at Catholic Charities, the True Worth Day Shelter, and as a volunteer chaplain at Medical City Fort Worth. These experiences have helped attune his heart to the needs of the Body of Christ within our Diocese. Looking back, David can now see how throughout the years, God was slowly preparing him and his family for the journey that now lies ahead. David looks forward to doing God’s will and to serving humbly wherever there is a need.
Francisco Javier Leal De la Fuente, Immaculate Conception, Denton
Francisco is married to Laura Elena Arroyo Fung, and together they have five children: Pedro Amador, Rubén Amador, Erik Whitney, Aracely Leal, and Francisco Leal.
Francisco grew up in Rio Verde S.L.P. Mexico but was born in Tampico. His mother was born in Santander, Tamaulipas and his father in Atlixco, Puebla. Francisco attended school in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, to study at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, the Faculty of Chemical Sciences where he obtained a degree in chemistry.
He worked for many companies while residing in Mexico, companies such as Zéneca, Coca Cola and others. His work experience in chemicals is very broad. He attended Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, earning a wastewater management technician certification, and worked for Upper Trinity Regional Water District. Right now, Francisco is working full-time for Immaculate Conception Parish in Denton.
For 20 years, Francisco has attended and served Immaculate Conception Church in Denton in many ways: as a member of the Hispanic council of the parish, catechist, faith coordinator for "Why be Catholic," acolyte, and reader. When he felt the initial call to the diaconate, he kept it for himself, not knowing if it was just his own thoughts or a true call from God. It was the late Deacon Emili "Popo" Gonzalez who asked him one day about being a deacon; And he shared with his wife, Laura, the experience that he had — that's when he knew that God was calling him to ministry. He met with his parish priest, Father Tim Thompson, who helped them both continue their discernment toward diaconal formation.
The Calling to the Diaconate and Formation Experience
Last year Francisco was assigned to Children’s Medical Center in Plano where he had the opportunity to serve the parents of sick children by providing support and assistance while they were on the hospital premises. Francisco enjoyed theological studies but has found that the time he spent volunteering at Monsignor King Shelter, hospice, and hospital chaplaincy was a gift from God. He has eyes to see misery and need. He has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. This is what love looks like.
Francisco quotes Saint Teresa of Avila, who said, "The best way to discover if we have the love of God is to see if we love our neighbor."
Alfred Matthew Mosco, Good Shepherd, Colleyville
Al has been married to his wife Cindy for 33 years. He graduated from high school in Houston and attended Texas A&M University where he met Cindy. Al works in information technology and has been with the same employer for 35 years. They have been parishioners of Good Shepherd since 2003 and for the past 2 years have had the pleasure of journeying with the faithful at Saint Thomas the Apostle in Lake Worth.
Al and Cindy have served as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist for many years and since the beginning of diaconate formation as homebound ministers, which has born much fruit in both their lives by being able to bring the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Savior to those unable to join their parish family in person. Al has also served as a lector, acolyte, and RCIA catechist during his formation.
Al’s path to the diaconate proves actions speak louder than words and the Gospel lived out in one’s life may have far greater impact than any words spoken during a homily. Al explained, “I had been journeying with Deacon Klaus Gutbier for many months following a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at Good Shepherd. Deacon Klaus attended the weekend retreat and subsequent formation activities simply as a participant. It would have been very easy for Klaus to step into a place of prominence, but he always deferred to the lay leadership and continually encouraged those of us going through the CRHP to take the lead in prayer and formation activities.”
During those months something began tug at Al’s soul — there was a beauty in Klaus, a calm, a humility, and it spoke to him. Al began to entertain a call to the diaconate and continued to journey with Klaus in preparation for the next CHRP retreat.
About six months after they hosted a CRHP weekend, Deacon Klaus was severely injured in a hit-and-run incident while riding his bicycle. After initial surgeries, Klaus required rehabilitation for several weeks. CRHP brothers spent time at Klaus’ bedside.
Al asked Klaus if he was angry with the person that hit him. Klaus said he harbored no anger or hatred toward the person that had done this to him, adding he had already forgiven and was praying for the person that had inflicted his pain and suffering.
Al said, “At once I was convicted of my need for conversion and affirmed that if the diaconate had allowed this for Klaus, I may need follow this path.” Seven years later, Al looks forward to honoring the beautiful example he experienced through Deacon Klaus by ministering to those God places in his path in the years ahead.
Reflecting on formation, Al praised the many formators that so graciously gave their time and talent to teach, inform, and most importantly challenge him to be an authentic servant. He thanks Catholic Charities Fort Worth, True Worth Place, JPS Hospital, and Texas Health / Harris Methodist Hospital Downtown for the opportunity to serve those among us needing to encounter the love of Jesus Christ.
Al shared, “My heart was truly pierced by many of these encounters and I’m thankful the wounds. A pierced heart allows for grace to flow both out and in. Grace is not meant to be possessed; it needs to be shared.”
Mark Pierson, St. Peter the Apostle, Fort Worth
Mark Pierson is married to Arlene Pierson, and they have three adult children. They are members of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in White Settlement, though Mark has been interning at Holy Family Parish in Ft. Worth for the past two years. He was born in Manchester, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Rockville High School in Rockville, Connecticut. During his senior year in high school, Mark enlisted into the U.S. Army and two weeks after his graduation left for basic training. After 10 years of honorable service, he opted to not reenlist and remained in Texas. Shortly after, he was hired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons where he worked for 23 years, eventually retiring after 34 years of government service. While working for the Bureau of Prisons, he earned his Bachelors of Science in Human Resources Management from Columbia College at its extended campus at the JRB Naval Air Station in Ft. Worth.
Mark has served the Church in many ways. He was a fifth-grade catechist for several years then an RCIA catechist. He was an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion not only for Mass, but also for those who were homebound and in nursing homes. He was a reader and was also entrusted with the responsibility of scheduling and providing training for readers and Eucharistic ministers. Together with his wife, they taught the preparation class for parents and godparents of those preparing to receive Baptism. Additionally, he instructed children wishing to become altar servers. Finally, he also began a practice at his home parish of leading the devotion the Way of the Cross for the Holy Souls in Purgatory after the Mass for the First Saturday. Mark is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
The Calling to the Diaconate and Formation Experience
Mark received his first call to the diaconate several years prior to formation; however, he took time to discern if this was a true calling from God, or if it was his own ambition. Initially, his family and a few parishioners brought it up to him, but he thought they were just being nice. Later, his parish deacon and several priests suggested he should consider it. He took all of these as a sign that this was God calling him.
Mark had always enjoyed reflecting on the Word of God, theological study, and readings from the saints, but found hospice and being a spiritual advisor for St. Vincent de Paul (at Holy Family) as a gift from God.
Mark often reflects Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew, “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did it for me.” Mark says that God puts people who are suffering in our path to assist us in our salvation. “Often times, patients in hospice (as well as their families), and the poor suffer greatly. If attentive, one can hear God imploring us to aid them.”
Mark says his experience with formation has been one of the best experiences of his life, and is grateful to every Formation Team Member, instructor, deacon mentor, and the men in his cohort for their support.
David Robinett, St. Martin de Porres, Prosper
David Robinett is married to Portia. They have two adult children. They are members of Saint Martin de Porres Catholic Church in Prosper. David grew up all over the world being a military dependent. He is a graduate of Vilseck American High School in Vilseck, Germany.
After serving five years in the Air Force, David earned a BAAS from Texas State University in San Marcos. For the last 27 years, David has worked in the telecommunications industry and serves as a safety manager for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Wichita Falls and El Paso.
David has served the Church in many ways: as a chair officer in both the third and fourth-degree Knights of Columbus, Lay Director for Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), English Men’s mentor for CRHP, acolyte, and lector.
When he felt the initial call, he kept it to himself, not certain if it was a true calling or his own thoughts. While meeting with Father Jonathan Raia about CRHP, David brought up this physical manifestation of a “calling/pulling of the spirit” to which Father Jonathan encouraged further discernment and to speak with Portia and the kids about discerning diaconate formation.
The Calling to the Diaconate and Formation Experience
David has enjoyed the gift of theological study, but found his time spent as a volunteer with the chapel at Denton State School, prison ministry, homeless ministry, and chaplain at Children’s Hospital Plano to be the greatest gifts from God. “As the Pope calls us to be on the fringes of society, it is a gift of grace to be used as an instrument of Christ’s message of hope, love, and redemption.”
In David’s examen he sometimes listens to lessons from Ascension Presents online. One lesson that resonated with David was on Saint Padre Pio. St. Pio was not great because of his many miracles and stigmata. What made St. Pio great was his humility and obedience. He recognized his gifts came from God and his weaknesses need to be handed over to God. This, with his obedience, to do the will of God in every moment, is what made St. Pio great.
David prays that he can be a servant to God’s faith community through these same charisms of humility and obedience. He looks forward to walking in faith with the parishioners and to having the grace to proclaim God’s mercy.
Francisco Joel Rodriguez, St. Jude, Mansfield
Joel Rodriguez came into communion with the Catholic Church on April 15, 2006; before being Catholic he was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist faith for 37 years.
Joel was born to Francisco and Norma Rodriguez in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of 10 his parents decided to move the family to Puerto Rico in an effort to move away from the city. His parents taught him the value of hard work and honesty; values that have led him in life until this day. He attended school in Puerto Rico until college, then relocated to the USA as a company promotion. After college he met Zory. He said, “She was a good Catholic girl and I was Seventh-day Adventist, but religion was never a discord in our marriage. Today we stand at 27 years of marriage, have three beautiful children, and are blessed with 3 grandchildren.”
Joel said “In my daily devotions I keep the names of my brothers on this diaconate journey present in my prayers, I also make myself available in support of the brothers to discuss assignments and pray for specific requests and needs they may have. Typically, we feed off each other, offering support and help as well. It has been a long journey, and just as I keep in touch with my family, I do the same with my brothers.”
Joel accepted a new job at Christus Health in September 2021. The adjustment and learning curve to the new job was extremely demanding, along with starting a new semester after no summer break summer from formation. However, he appreciated the opportunity of a new job and the blessing of being part of formation. The journey in formation has honored its definition by serving as “the act of giving shape.” In the past, challenges may have seemed inconvenient, but today he views a challenge or something not going according to plan as an opportunity to serve God’s plan, reassess, and move on from there.
Joel looks back to the moment he heard the call to the deaconate. “The man I was then, as a man, father, son, and husband, have seen a significant change. My relationship with God has taken first place. Formation has played a major role: the call to prayer, meditation, and the sacraments have allowed me to mature and grow spiritually, which has had a direct effect in all other areas of my life.”
“The way I see life and my reactions to those around me tend to be more pastoral than before. I listen more than I talk; I am genuinely interested in what people have to share. Prayer, especially morning prayer, is part of who I am, I cannot begin my day without inviting God to be part of my day and submit my will to Him. I still have a long way to go — keeping an open heart to God’s will is essential in my life to be the man God wants and can use in His service.”
Davy Paul Tolentino, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Wichita Falls
Davy Paul Tolentino is married to Rosalie Tolentino, and they have three children. Franklin-Paul, their eldest and Brittny-Ann, their middle child, are now in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their youngest, Michel-Jon, is thirty years old and lives with them.
Members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Wichita Falls since 1996, he was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Wichita Falls for the final year of diaconate formation.
After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as an armored tank crewman. On August 2, 1990, his unit was called to duty during Desert Storm, helping to liberate and restore peace and dignity to Kuwait. After the war, he returned to Fort Bliss in El Paso and finished his commitment to the U.S. Army. In 1993, they returned to the Pacific Island of Guam. Due to a military base alignment in 1996, they relocated to Wichita Falls, trusting in God’s merciful hands to guide them during this transition. They found peace, refuge, and a deeper foundation of Catholic faith.
Since 2000, Davy found joy in serving the parish; as an altar server/acolyte coordinator, all-around handyman, on-call volunteer when help is needed, RCIA sponsor and catechist, youth volunteer helper and catechist, member of parish council, diaconate formation, instituted acolyte, lector, local Knights of Columbus third degree, and finally an ear for those who just want someone to listen.
After several years as an altar server, he sensed God calling him to do more. Fr. John Swistovich, the pastor, suggested Davy and Rosalie register for the Light of Christ Institute program. Soon after, he asked Davy to consider the diaconate formation program (class of 2009). Davy said, “I thought it impossible that God would call me to be a deacon of His Church, knowing that it would demand a lot of time. At the same time, we were caring for our eldest son, who had been bedridden since the age of 13. Somehow, that tug was strong, so in my obedience, I signed up. During the aspirancy phase of formation we were told our daughter needed a heart transplant. We did not hesitate. We put the diaconate call behind us and focused on our son and daughter’s needs.”
During this time, he continued serving the parish wherever and however he was needed. Ten years later the tug resurfaced, and he applied to the diaconate program, class of 2020. During aspirancy, the committee discerned him out of the 2020 cohort. Once again, he focused on serving the Church.
Two years later he received a call from Dr. Juan Rendon, director of diaconal formation, inviting him to join the diaconate class of 2022. He sought the guidance from his pastor, Fr. Sojan George, who encouraged him to accept the invitation. “I surrendered to God and gave my yes,” said Davy. “My obedience and trust in Him were necessary to meet the demands of class schedules, meetings, retreats, reflections, zoom classes, assignments, practicums, long drives, family life, managing responsibilities at home, keeping a full-time job, long hours, and many ministries. Only by the grace of God am I still here, in one piece and waiting for the bridegroom with my lamp still burning, seeking His seal of approval.”
Jesus Valadez Morales, St. John the Apostle Parish, North Richland Hills
Jesus and Elvia Valadez have two children, Desirée Ivette and Marco-Antonio Jaime, two granddaughters, Jada and Drea, and a great grandson on the way. He grew up in Mexico City in a family of practicing Catholics. He maintains a positive relationship with his siblings (3 sisters and 4 brothers) and their families, who live in Mexico City, using video technology. Most of his education was in Mexico City.
When he arrived in the United States, he worked in a company called Nation’s Best Sports. The company marketed sporting goods equipment. He was employed there from 2002 to 2020 but was laid off when there was a shortage of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his diaconate formation Jesus was able to receive his certificate in Theological and Ministerial Studies from the University of Dallas.
A member of St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills, Jesus has served the Church in many ways as a parish council member, an RCIA catechist, an acolyte, a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, funeral coordinator, coordinator of Safe Environment, and tribunal advocate for the Diocese of Fort Worth. He has maintained the parish database, prepared couples for the sacrament of marriage, and been responsible for the liturgy of the parish.
As a deacon candidate, Jesus was assigned to All Saints Parish in Fort Worth. Jesus enjoys his parish work because he can help and guide many people in various areas.
Jesus worked at Tarrant Community College as a computer instructor. One day a student asked if he could help him with some algebra problems and he said yes. Within the following weeks several more students approached and asked him for help and he helped them too. During their conversations Jesus asked the students what was happening with their instructor and the students told him that their GED teacher had just given them the books and told them to do research themselves, because the teacher only spoke English.
Among those students was Sister Aracely Lobaton, MCSH. Sister Aracely was the DRE of St. John the Apostle Parish in North Richland Hills. After a few weeks, Sister approached him and invited him to become a catechist as part of the RCIA team. With a nervous laugh he told her no because he didn’t know what to say about God, even though he had received the sacraments. He told Sister Aracely that he knew about mathematics but it would be difficult for him to be able to teach someone about the Catholic faith if he did not have much knowledge about it.
After seeing her disappointed face, he told her he would help her but she had to teach him how to develop the knowledge he needed to be a catechist. Several months later she mentioned to him that she saw a gift of service in him and that she thought he would be a good deacon. He was stunned and speechless because it had never crossed his mind to be a deacon. This was how Jesus felt one of his calls to the diaconate.
Sergio Vera Orozco, St. Matthew Parish, Arlington
Sergio Vera Orozco is married to María E. Diaz de Vera and has two children, Sergio Jonathan and Marielena, and two grandchildren, Noel Damián and Giana Sofia. They are members of St. Matthew Parish in Arlington since 2006.
He studied in Guadalajara, Mexico and obtained his GDE diploma at the University of Guadalajara.
He and his wife came to the United States in 1990 and lived in the San Fernando Valley in California, where his children were born. They came to Texas in 2006, and in September 2008, Sergio became a citizen of the US.
In Texas, he studied Saint John Paul II. In 2015, he graduated from the University of Dallas Advanced Bible course. He took another four-year course in ministerial theology studies and graduated in May 2022.
Sergio served at St. Matthew Parish for many years as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, ministry to the sick, catechist, prayer group, and the RCIA program. Through his service, he began to fall in love more every day with God. On some occasions when he visited a sick person, or he had to share some message at a funeral, people many times asked him if he was a deacon. Many times his wife María was asked if they could make an appointment to talk to Sergio, thinking he was a deacon. That’s how he started to receive the first calls from God. He talked to Deacon Matías Lagunas and told him about his experiences, and the deacon advised him to let himself be guided by God and open his ears to His call.
In the four years of theological study, Sergio received 18 courses that led him to have a better perspective on the Catholic Church.
Participating in the charity program visiting the sick in the hospital gave him a wonderful experience because “I felt that it was Jesus Himself that I was going to visit. You meet many people marginalized by society, others whose families do not visit them, and others who no longer feel alive. My mission was to bring them a little hope by talking to them about the love of God and tell them how important they are to God, that God loves them no matter what color or religion. He loves them all equally.”
Sergio said it is not easy to talk to the relatives of a patient when they no longer give him any more hope of life, but God gives the strength to make us strong and offer our support to these families. “We support them with our prayers, offering the Mass for the sick, etc.”
Sergio said after hospital ministry, “My life was no longer the same because always I am praying to God for all these people. My prayers increased because I know that there are many people in need of prayer, and I do it with great pleasure and love. Jesus said in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: ‘Whatever you do for someone in need, you do for me,’”