The following story appeared in the June 23 Idaho Catholic Register.
Deacon Charles Corbalis and Linda (Courtesy photo/Deacon Charles Corbalis)
By Gene Fadness
NAMPA – Four men were ordained as deacons on June 10, but the Diocese also frequently gets new deacons who move here from other parts of the country. Two who have moved here within the last two years from California are Deacon Charles Corbalis, who serves at St. Paul’s Parish in Nampa, and Deacon Steve Lauder, serving at St. Mark’s Parish in Boise.
Both come here after retiring from very successful careers. However, “retirement” for them does not mean a life of leisure.
Deacon Corbalis was an executive and founder of high-tech companies in the Silicon Valley. Deacon Lauder (see his story below) designed high-speed conveyor systems for large online retail companies.
Deacon Corbalis is heading up a project to move the St. Paul’s school and parish office to the new church site on West Roosevelt Avenue. The project will also include adding 300 new parking spaces at the new church.
Deacon Corbalis was born in Maine, but spent his first 12 years in Okinawa, Japan, where his father was in the U.S. Air Force. They fell in love with the Bay Area of northern California, where they moved after their time in Japan.
He was raised in a Catholic home, but says his parents were not “devotional Catholics, but they did teach us to pray. They were very private,” he said. Not a fan of what was happening in the Church during the 1970s, Deacon Corbalis’ father did not send his children to Catholic schools. “But, he would teach us religion in the evening. He was not an intellectual, but a clear thinker who gave me perspective. My parents kept the candle of faith burning so that we could weather the storm of the 70s.”
Deacon Corbalis no doubt inherited some of those critical thinking skills, graduating from Cal-Berkeley with a bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering and computer science. He then went on to Stanford University, where he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
His education launched a successful career in 1980 in the Silicon Valley, the epicenter of the high-tech revolution. In 1986, he co-founded StrataCom, Inc., a “stepping stone to the Internet company.” He was vice president of engineering there from 1986-97. In 1996, the company was acquired by Cisco Systems.
In 1999, Deacon Corbalis and two professors from UC-Santa Barbara co-founded Calient Networks, an optical switching start-up serving clients such as Verizon and AT&T. He was CEO there from 1999-2007, later becoming vice president of engineering for RGB Networks and a chief technology officer for Buzztagg, Inc.
He met his wife, Linda, during his second job out of college. They became acquainted with the Legionaries of Christ, allowing the priests and brothers to live in a cottage behind their home for about four years. “They were young, but very well-educated and well-formed. My kids loved having them around. They got to hobnob and play with brothers and priests.”
With the Legionaries, Deacon Corbalis and Linda co-founded Canyon Heights Academy, a pre-K to 8th Grade Catholic school in Campbell, southwest of San Jose. In 1997, Deacon Charles and Linda created the Corbalis Family Foundation, a philanthropic organization to non-profits, with a primary focus on Catholic education and formation for both clergy and the laity. A portion of the Foundation’s annual distribution is reserved for pro-life activities and outreach to the poor.
Deacon Corbalis said he took a “step into the dark,” when he was accepted in the Diocese of San Jose’s deacon formation program is 2011. He received a master’s of arts degree in pastoral ministries from Santa Clara University in 2015 and was ordained in May 2016. He was pastoral minister for six years at St. Nicholas and St. William Parish in Los Altos. He is a Knight for the Order of Malta and formerly served on the boards for St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, the Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos and for Canyon Heights Academy.
Moving to Idaho in 2021, Deacon Corbalis has been involved in reviving the RCIA program at St. Paul’s, which had declined a bit when the parish was between pastors.
In addition to his work on the building commit-tee, he is also developing a computer application, “Encounter.” He describes the app as a “modern way to introduce RCIA candidates and inquirers to the practice of short daily meditations on scripture using solid Catholic reflection material.” He hopes to make the app available to RCIA (now called OCIA for Order of Christian Initiation for Adults) coordinators throughout Idaho and beyond.
Deacon Charles and Linda have four children and one granddaughter. They live in Star. “I had friends who moved here. They said it reminded them of the Santa Clara valley when they were growing up, with its mix of rural farms and housing complexes.”
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