After rigorous formation, candidates ready for vocation of service

Pre-Ordination Vespers, Holy Hour

6-7 p.m., Nov. 2

St. Thomas the Apostle, 2312 E. Campbell Ave., Phoenix


Permanent Deacon Ordination

10 a.m.-noon, Nov. 3

Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., Phoenix


Six men from throughout the diocese are spending their final days as laypeople. Beginning with their Nov. 3 ordination at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, they will forever be known as “deacon.”

Antonio Alvarez, Martín Gallo, Jim Myers, Catarino Portillo, Steve Schmidt and Jeff Strom, along with their wives, will celebrate solemn vespers with the community Nov. 2 at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares will lead that prayer service.

Dcn. Doug Bogart, associate director of education and formation for the diaconate, said that to become a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Phoenix requires five years of study, plus a two-year prerequisite of the Kino Catechetical Institute program. This is the fifth diaconate cohort Dcn. Bogart has prepared since 2010.

“The formation program is very comprehensive,” said Dcn. Bogart. “The men are well trained in human formation, spiritual formation, pastoral formation and intellectual formation.”

Each candidate completes a rotation through a hospital. They also completed many hours of liturgical formation with instructors who hold master’s degrees or above.

“It is a solid formation program — we focus on spirituality and the call to holiness,” he said. “A man really had to be willing to choose holiness in his desire to pray, get close to Jesus and be transformed by Him. If not, they will drop out — they will leave.”

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The candidates speak Spanish, and all have “good, strong marriages,” Dcn. Bogart said.

“Their wives have very much entered into the formation with them — supporting them, encouraging them and being in class with them,” he said.

Dcn. Bogart said that when a man is ordained a deacon, it affects his marriage.

“The man who is ordained into the diaconate is accepting the call to have his whole family transformed in a special way,” he said. “It is important for the wife to say ‘yes’ to the Lord and his ordination.”

Steve Schmidt was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He was raised in the Baptist faith and converted to Catholicism in 2007 at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa. As he went through RCIA, his wife, Donna, his daughter, Anna, and others encouraged him to enter the diaconate.

“In just 11 years, God transformed my heart from being anti-Catholic to becoming Catholic and a permanent deacon in the Diocese of Phoenix,” Schmidt said in his submitted autobiography. “Only God could accomplish such a

Martín Gallo, who will be assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale, was born in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

“My spiritual life has changed extremely due to the last 10 years of formation, prayer and my willingness to give my life to Christ,” Gallo wrote in his autobiography. “I have discovered that Jesus is my one and only friend and has never left my side.”

Jim Myers, who will be assigned to San Francisco de Asís Parish in Flagstaff, grew up in a family with eight brothers and sisters and married his wife, Therese, 10 years ago.

“One of the blessings, and there are many, of the formation process is that it instilled a desire in me to deepen my relationship with the Holy Trinity and know more about His Church here,” Myers wrote.