Thursday, December 1, 2022

Meet Deacons Auchey, Ballinger and Barto

Over the course of the next several weeks, The Catholic Witness will introduce readers to the Diocese’s 35 new permanent deacons, with photos, biographical information, and their comments/words/remarks on service to the Church.

Deacon Steven Auchey

Deacon Steven Auchey
Wife: Sharon Auchey
Home Parish: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Mechanicsburg
Parish Assignment: St. Joseph Parish, Mechanicsburg
What drew you to serve the Diocese as a Deacon?
When the bishop opened the call for diaconate applications, my pastor asked me to pray and think about filling out an application. It was while we were on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that I felt the call and let my pastor know that I would like to fill out an application when we got back to the U.S. I have been in service my entire adult life and there is no better service than service to God. I would like to thank my pastor and Bishop Gainer for considering me for this ministry.
What aspect of the ministry are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to interacting with the families and getting to know them better. It is important to know the parishioners because I will pray with them, perform baptisms, funeral services, witness marriages, teach and preach.
What is/was your profession prior to ordination?
I served 29 years on active duty in the Air Force and am currently a civil servant in New Cumberland.
How has the formation program helped you grow spiritually?
The on-line and local classes were outstanding in providing spiritual direction. The formation program has helped both my wife and I grow spiritually since we pray together a lot more now. We pray the Litany of Hours together each morning and evening, and we pray the Rosary together every day.

Deacon Thomas Wayne Ballinger

Deacon Thomas Wayne BallingerWife: Sandra Ballinger
Home Parish: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Spring Grove
Parish Assignment: Sacred Heart of Jesus, Spring Grove
What drew you to serve the Diocese as a Deacon?
I slowly was drawn to this ministry as I got more involved in the Church. As I started helping with RCIA, children’s faith formation, and adult education at Sacred Heart, people started to ask if I considered the diaconate. They also brought my name up to the pastor (at this time, Father Paul Schenck was our parish administrator). Father Paul saw something in me that I did not see in myself, but out of the respect I had for him I followed through and started to research the diaconate. The more I learned, the more deeply I was drawn.
What aspect of the ministry are you most looking forward to?
While all the ministries are interrelated, I believe the ministry of charity is where many deacons are called. This ministry embodies the role of the deacon to serve the Church and therefore the community both inside and outside the walls of the Church. I pray my service to the community will bring people to love and seek Christ and that this seeking will change their lives as much as I have seen my own change over these last 10 years.
What is/was your profession prior to ordination?
I was a Paper Science engineer at Glatfelter Paper Company.
How has the formation program helped you grow spiritually?
This formation program has been wonderful for my spiritual growth. Interacting with our formators and the other candidates around me has affected me in ways I may never fully understand. Being with men and their wives that all love the Church of Jesus Christ so much cannot help but draw you in and build up this love within you. My prayer life has improved and continues to grow, as well as the desire to grow my relationship with God and those around me who also love our Lord. I have a long way to travel, but with the support around me I believe I am well on my way to get where the Lord wishes me to be. I pray I will know His will and can do it with love, determination and perseverance.

Deacon David A. Barto

Deacon David A. BartoWife: Marilyn K. Barto
Home Parish:
Mary Gate of Heaven, Myerstown
Parish Assignment:
Mary Gate of Heaven, Myerstown

What drew you to serve the Diocese as a Deacon?
Happiness. I enjoyed serving the Church and learning from Scripture. Father Berger invited me to become an Extraordinary Minister many years ago. That was like adding fuel to the fire. It increased my thirst to learn about Scripture and our faith. When Father asked me to take Communion to the homebound, I felt honored to do it. After distributing Communion to them, I found that they gave me more joy than I could ever give them. Father later asked me if I would be interested in the Diaconal Program. I enthusiastically accepted the opportunity. He has given me a great gift.
What aspect of the ministry are you most looking forward to?
The Lord has blessed me with several wonderful priests over the past ten years. They all displayed a passion for what they did, may it be liturgy, the word or charity. I pray that I have learned a bit from each of them. But with the Covid pandemic, I am looking forward the most to visiting the homebound and sharing with them the word and Communion. I miss the sharing.
What is/was your profession prior to ordination?
I retired from the Marine Corps in 1991. But, before my desire to become a deacon, I was an accountant. I have since retired from that as well. So now I can devote my time to my family and the Church.
How has the formation program helped you grow spiritually?
By increasing my knowledge of Scripture, the early Church Fathers, and many other aspects of our faith, I have acquired a much higher love for the Church and our faith. The words come more from the heart rather than from a book. My actions are more deliberate in the ways of God and not always my way. In the beginning, I thought five years of study was overkill for what we need to know. Now, I know that it is not enough.

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Submission Deadline

The deadline for submissions to the biweekly Notebook/Parish Obituaries listing is every other Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Please refer to the Publication Schedule for edition dates and deadlines.

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