DePaul University faculty members Joseph Ferrari (left) and Wilfredo Marrero were recently ordained as deacons in the Joliet Diocese. Ferrari and Marrero are believed to be the only two deacons in the Chicago area who also work in higher education. (Photo by Jeff Carrion)
CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)—October 17, 2013. Two faculty members at DePaul University recently have been ordained deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology, and Wilfredo Marrero, associate professor of computer science, were ordained in the Joliet Diocese.
Both are parishioners in Naperville, Ill., churches: Ferrari at St. Margaret Mary and Marrero at St. Peter and Paul. They are believed to be the first DePaul faculty members to be ordained deacons. According to a survey conducted by Ferrari, they also are the only deacons who teach full-time at a Chicago area university.
Ferrari, who was appointed a Vincent de Paul Distinguished Professor in 2006, has been teaching psychology at DePaul since 1994. His research focuses on chronic procrastination, community-based service learning and health psychology. Among his published works is the book “Still Procrastinating? The No Regrets Guide to Getting It Done.”
“Like others, I discerned in prayer whether or not I wanted to become a deacon,” Ferrari said. “Around year two in formation, I felt a calling from God, and my heart told me this was something not just for me, but a way to serve God by serving others.”
Marrero has been teaching computer science and computer security at DePaul since 1999. He is looking for new ways to apply formal models, logic and computer automation to aid in the design of complex computer hardware, software and security.
“When I was called, I wasn’t sure if I would be the right choice,” Marrero said. “It is something that becomes confirmed by the people around you. They see something special in you and help you realize that you are called to be a deacon.”
A deacon acts as a bridge between the liturgical and the laity and assists the priest during Mass. In the Catholic Church, the diaconate is the first of three ranks in ordained ministry. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are called transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Ferrari and Marrero were ordained in August.
“I am very excited to be a deacon, but this is permanent,” Ferrari said. “It is a serious lifetime commitment. I hope to always be growing and looking forward to the next challenge of my new position. To me, serving others is what it’s all about.”
“It has been my desire to give back to the church and become more involved with my parish,” Marrero said. “I am humbled that the Lord has called me.”
The diaconate is very selective; only 17 men were ordained in this year’s class from the Joliet Diocese. Ferrari and Marrero attended class twice a week for four years to complete their training.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops there are 15,000 active deacons and 3,000 retired deacons in the United States. There are 234 in the Joliet Diocese, which makes it the 11th largest group of deacons in the United States. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the activities of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations in the restoration of the diaconate and the development of diaconal ministry. It also assists and coordinates the development of diaconal formation programs on the diocesan and national levels. It provides services and liaison support to national organizations and directors of diocesan diaconate offices.