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Four to be ordained to diaconate June 10

The following story appeared in the May 26 Idaho Catholic Register.

Idaho Catholic Register file photo from the 2017 Diaconate Ordination at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist

Bishop Peter Christensen will ordain four men to the permanent diaconate on Saturday, June 10, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Boise.

The ordination begins at 10 a.m. followed by a reception.

Scheduled to be ordained are Michael Alan Evaniuck and Antonio Perez Ballesteros, both of St. Paul’s Parish in Nampa; Eduardo Luna Herrera of St. Mark’s Parish in Boise; and Vincent Scott Perry of St. George’s Parish in Post Falls.

Deacon Sal Carranza, director of deacon formation for the Diocese of Boise, has been in that post for slightly less than a year, so was not directly involved in the entire four-year formation process for these four men.

“Although my interaction with these wonderful couples had been limited, I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know Antonio, Ed, Mike, and Vince and their wives so much more at their recent pre-ordination retreat as they shared their amazing stories and journeys of faith,” Deacon Carranza said. As proscribed by canon law, the men recently completed a five-day retreat at the Monastery of the Ascension in Jerome.

“I am truly excited and overjoyed to present to Mother Church and Bishop Peter these four amazing and humble servants for ordination,” Deacon Carranza said.

Ailen and Michael Evaniuck

MICHAEL EVANIUCK was born in Royal Oak, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. When he was 4, his parents moved to Los Angeles. After graduating from high school in Granada Hills, Calif., he attended both the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia and California State University-Northridge.

Evaniuck has worked in technology since 1988 and currently works in cybersecurity for a large company supporting state Medicaid systems for many states.

He and his wife, Ailen, have two adult children who live in southern California.

Evaniuck was born into a Catholic family that attended Mass weekly. “Later, as a teenager, I drifted away from the faith and eventually stopped attending Mass,” he said. “Since I never personally took ownership of my faith, I thought of the Church as my parent’s Church.”

During his young adult years, he attended many Protestant churches, but at about age 40 felt a draw back to his Catholic faith. “I eventually attended a Catholic Mass and the rest was history.” He spoke to his pastor at the time, who suggested that he take RCIA because he knew so little about the faith. That experience led him to volunteering for years in RCIA and his involvement in many ministries grew from there.

Evaniuck has been a parishioner at St Paul’s in Nampa since 2016, but his discernment toward the diaconate began while he was in California.

“During a one-month period parishioners started asking if I thought about becoming a deacon. Eventually I mentioned it to my pastor, and he felt I would make a great deacon.”

For a time, he thought life “would be a lot easier sitting in the pew,” especially since he still had a teen-age son at home. “But whenever I felt this way, God would constantly be tapping my shoulder,” and prompting him toward the diaconate. “You can wrestle all you want with God, but He always wins.”

After the family moved to Boise, he began his diaconate formation. In addition to his parish work with RCIA, his pastoral practicum has been in Marriage Prep and Baptismal Prep.

His pastor at the time, Father Caleb Vogel, wanted his deacon candidates involved in the liturgy as well. During his formation, Evaniuck has been an altar server, lector, emcee and sacristan. He is currently an acolyte.

“Formation was challenging, but it was also a lot of fun and I made some great friendships, both in the program and in the diaconate community,” Evaniuck said.

“Recently, I was asked if I was nervous with ordination being so close. Since the day I turned in my final packet, which included my letter to Bishop Christensen requesting ordination, I have felt a deep sense of peace,” he said. “Am I fully ready to take on whatever my diaconate asks of me? Am I fully prepared for this? Probably not, but I am confident whatever I am lacking God will provide.”

Stephany, Andrew, Eduardo and Torry Herrera

EDUARDO HERRERA’S parents, who lived in Caldwell, were visiting his grandparents in San Pedro, Zacatecas, Mexico, when he was born two months prematurely, weighing only two pounds.

“I was a miracle baby,” he said. His life has been a series of miracles since.

Growing up in Caldwell, his parents attended the former St. Mary’s Church there. But, when he was 10, the family moved to a rural town in central Nevada where the nearest Catholic church was 55 miles away.

“Suddenly, we were no longer Catholic,” Herrera said. “Our family attended the Baptist church for a while and then the Assembly of God church afterward.” When he left for college, he didn’t attend church often, but said he was always seeking God.

That’s when he met Stephany – another miracle – his wife of 28 years. He began attending Mass with her and the two were married in the Church. In 2006, the Herrera family, which now included daughter, Torry, and son, Andrew, moved from Nevada to Boise and started attending St. Mark’s Parish in Boise. While at St. Mark’s, Herrera enrolled in RCIA and was Confirmed in 2008, the same year their daughter, Torry, received her First Holy Communion.

“I would classify the deepening of my faith as a reversion,” Herrera said. “Over the decades, my faith has steadily grown deeper.” He and Stephany have been involved with the Adoration chapel at St. Mark’s and small-faith communities. When their children attended St. Mark’s Catholic School, they were involved with the school. Currently, Stephany is principal at St. Paul’s Catholic School in Nampa. The two have also assisted with Evangelization Retreats, volunteered as Extraordinary Ministers and lectors and served on the parish council.

Herrera is a regional sales manager for J.T.M. Foods for the Intermountain and Northwest Region. He received his bachelor’s degree in Hotel Administration with an emphasis in food service from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and his Master’s in Public Administration from Boise State University.

Herrera began feeling a call to the diaconate during a Mass in 2016. “Over the next six months, I talked to several deacons at St. Mark’s as well as to Father Ben Uhlenkott.” By fall of 2017, he was ready to begin formation but due to a restructuring of the diaconate program in the Diocese of Boise, candidates were not accepted for a 2017-18 class. During the next year, the class was full, so he had to wait yet another year, before enrolling in 2019.

While disappointing at the time, the wait could have been providential. “Throughout the formation process, I have had thoughts of doubt and unworthiness.” However, a pilgrimage to France in January of this year, solidified his call to the diaconate.

Herrera and nine other men from Boise went with two Verbum Spei Brothers from Our Lady of Ephesus Monastery, Father Jean Christophe and Brother Juan, to visit Lisieux, La Salette and Le Laus.

“What this pilgrimage allowed me to do is completely step away from the busyness of daily life and focus on Mass, prayer, Adoration and silence.” Throughout the 10-day pilgrimage, Herrera said he was able to discern that the doubts he was experiencing had more to do with his abilities, not his calling. “If anything, my calling to the diaconate was reinforced. When visiting Lisieux, I knew that I needed to stop worrying about the big things, just do the little things correctly, submit to Christ and the Holy Spirit would be there to assist.”

At La Salette, where Mary appeared to two children, the Blessed Virgin was crying, asking for people to convert. At Le Laus, she was smiling, but again calling for continual conversion. At both those places, Herrera was confirmed in the fact that he could be used by God to carry out her desires for more conversions.

“Since the pilgrimage and over the last few months with ordination on the near horizon, I feel like the Holy Spirit has given me a quiet confidence and a growing calm that I am on the correct path. I know that God will provide the words and guidance during those difficult moments,” Herrera said.

“Looking back at my life, there have been several situations where I felt a strong desire to take a specific path. Now I understand that was God leading me where he needed me.”

Alma and Antonio Perez

ANTONIO PEREZ is originally from Iramuco, Guanajuato, Mexico. In 1991, when he was 7, his parents migrated to Nampa. He attended school in Nampa beginning in second grade and graduated from Nampa High School.

After he graduated from high school, Perez’s Dad suffered a severe stroke that forced him to retire. That meant that Perez had to start working immediately after he graduated high school to support his parents, something he did for 10 years. He worked for Idaho Asphalt Supply for 20 years, and then got an opportunity to work for his parish, St. Paul’s in Nampa, where, for the last two years, he has been the director of parish services. He oversees the up-keep of the four buildings – two churches, social hall and school – as well as the cemetery.

Perez has been married to his wife, Alma, for 17 years. They have five children, Antonio Jr, Nathaniel, Emmanuel, Chantel, and Josiah.

Perez was raised as a Catholic, but during his teen years, he socialized with the “wrong crowd,” he said, and was not active in the Church until he met Alma, who helped bring him back to the faith.

Since coming back to the Church, he has served as an usher, lector and Eucharistic Minister. He has also been a member of the Legion of Mary. “I’ve loved serving in the Church,” he said, even assisting at funerals, visiting the sick and going to people’s homes to teach them to pray the rosary.

“I came to a point in time where I wanted to do more for the Lord,” he said. In 2017, he felt a deep calling to the diaconate, but he was doubting his decision to move forward. He said he asked the Lord to give him a sign and, now looking back, can see that he received some clear indications of the Lord’s call.

He recalls going to the Adoration chapel to ask God if He wanted him to serve Him as a deacon. He then opened his Bible. “The first verses I saw were I Timothy 3:8-13 which talk about the way a deacon should act.”

He chalked that up as a coincidence and continued to ask God for a sign. Shortly after that prayer, he went to the office at St. Paul’s to get some information about a baptism. While he was waiting, Father Caleb Vogel, the pastor at St. Paul’s at the time, surprised him by approaching him and asking him if he would be interested is the diaconate formation program. “I felt it was another coincidence,” Perez said.

The third sign and final confirmation came just a couple of days later through his father whom he had served after his stroke. He took his Dad to the doctor for an appointment. “Dad told me that he was very proud of me because he saw that I was very involved in serving the Church and he could see my love for God.” His father also told him that when he left the seminary after three years, he promised God that he would offer one of his children to God for service. “At that moment, I didn’t need to ask God anymore. I knew I was called to serve God.”

The formation process has not been easy, Perez said, but he feels blessed by the support of his brothers who are also discerning. “Both my wife and me know that this sacrifice is worth it, for the kingdom of God and His church. We ask for prayers, so that we can become good servants to God and to the community.”

Vincent and Amy Perry

FOR VINCENT PERRY, it was the example of the deacon serving in his Post Falls parish that cemented his desire to pursue the diaconate.

“When seeing Deacon Eric Schirmer minister to our parish in the long absence of a regular priest, I was inspired,” Perry said. Not long afterward, both Bishop Peter Christensen and Father Costance Swai, pastor at St. George’s in Post Falls, also suggested the diaconate. Finally, when Deacon Schirmer told him about the new format for diaconate training, along with urging from his wife, Amy, Perry decided to begin the four-year process.

Perry has lived in Idaho for about 10 years, moving here from California. He was born in Glendale and raised in La Crescenta, CA. All of his grade school, high school and college years were at Catholic schools. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in history from Loyola Marymount University. He is currently employed as a telecommunications switch technician.

He and Amy were married in 2003 and have three sons and a daughter ranging in ages from 10 to 17.

A cradle Catholic, he was an altar server from fourth grade into his 20s. His father was in the parish choir and his mother took the Eucharist to the sick. “We were a very active family in our parish. I cannot express how much being active in the parish and the close relationships I have had with clergy growing up influenced me and gave me the foundation to live my faith,” Perry said. “Keep your families involved!”

Spending time with clergy as he grew up played a factor in his decision to become a deacon, Perry said. “Serving at Mass opened me up to many experiences with Christ.” He also recalls volunteering at a soup kitchen as part of his Confirmation prep project. “I saw Christ in that person. It was one of many times I learned open compassion.”

He also points to an experience at a retreat during his senior year in high school where “I encountered Christ in a very personal way.”

“The process and decision to marry my wife was also a major surrender to be open to and accept God’s plan for me,” he said, pointing in particular to an Engaged Encounter weekend and his and Amy’s participation in Natural Family Planning classes.

At St. George’s, Perry has been involved in Confirmation preparation and youth ministry. He has also trained altar servers and has been involved in both RCIA and the Knights of Columbus.

Perry said he has always felt a calling to serve God through the diaconate, especially after hearing a deacon preach a Mass at the first parish he and Amy attended. But when children started to arrive, those plans were put on a back-burner.

Deacon Schirmer’s service at St. George’s led to Perry again considering the diaconate. “Discernment is not an easy process and, for me, there was a lot of struggle to sort it out. God puts signs and messages that we have to be open to,” Perry said. “Being married to my wife and raising our family has taught me to listen to God even though He has had to shout a few times.”

The diaconate formation process has been an “absolute blessing for our family,” he said. “We have grown closer together and closer to God.” He said his wife and children have been “deeply involved” in the process, helping him with ideas for papers and supporting him in prayer. The fact that most of the classes can be taken online made it more possible for him to participate since Post Falls, in northern Idaho, is so far away from Boise and his full-time job requires on-call duties.

Approaching ordination, Perry says he is experiencing a variety of emotions from scared to excited. “I know that this is a full surrender to God’s will, and that is more than just a big deal. I made this surrender with my wife and God in our marriage and now am getting ready to go further. I also know, deep in my heart, that He will provide what I need to carry out His plan. I know that Amy will be there with me, and I thank her deeply for that.”

He also recognizes, he said, that God will reveal other plans to Him as he continues his service as a deacon. “God’s plan does not end at one final point. He guides us on a journey. That is one thing this process has proven to me.”

If you enjoyed this story and would like to read more like it, please consider buying a subscription to the Idaho Catholic Register. Your $20 yearly subscription also supports the work of the Diocese of Boise Communications Department, which includes not only the newspaper, but this website, social media posts and videos. You can subscribe here, or through your parish, or send a check to 1501 S. Federal Way, Boise, ID, 83705: or call 208-350-7554 to leave a credit card payment. Thank you, and God bless you.

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