Journeys to the Diaconate: Part II

Part One | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

Twelve men tell their stories as they prepare to be Ordained

By Malie Hudson

  On August 24, Bishop Gerald Barnes will ordain 12 men as one of the largest diaconate classes in the Diocese’s 41-year history. 

 The deacon candidates come from diverse backgrounds and represent four of the six vicariates. As they approach Ordination day, the men reflected on their journey to the Permanent Diaconate.

Donald Hitzeman


Wife: Mary Hitzeman

Home Parish: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula

Occupation: Business and Estate Planning Attorney

Ministries of Interest: I am open to being led where the Spirit needs me to be in the ordained ministry, using my gifts as the Lord sees fit. 

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: I felt called to diaconal discernment for some time before saying ‘yes.’

 Initially, many people encouraged me to consider becoming a deacon, including priests, deacons and fellow parishioners. 

 For several years, I resisted the thought of going forward; judging that I was not ready or worthy or that I was too busy with life, including my family and profession.

 It was my then pastor, Father John Wagner, who really persuaded me that I have the gifts for this vocation.

 My call has stemmed from a passionate sense of being for and with others through service to those most in need, all in the name of Christ.

 My wife, Mary, is the light of my life and has been such a wonderful source of love, encouragement and peace in this process of formation and I expect that will continue in ministry as well.

 We accompany each other in our marriage of 36 years and we will continue to do so beyond Ordination, unless our Lord calls one of us home.  

Roberto Jara


Wife: Patricia Jara

Home Parish: St. Christopher, Moreno Valley

Occupation: Employed with a commercial maintenance company

Ministries of Interest: Charity, justice and marriage

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: After returning to the Church, my wife and I started attending Jovenes Para Cristo ministry. (Later, becoming the Formation Coordinator for Asociacion Jovenes Para Cristo).

 I felt the true love of God in my life for the very first time. I wish I could have all the words to describe the peace that my family and I were experiencing.

 One day, while talking to my pastor, Father Joven Junio, the diaconate formation idea came up. To me, it was hard to believe that I was considered by my pastor to start a journey to a ministry serving our Lord Jesus Christ.

 As a family, my wife and daughter offered our prayers and put our trust in God. Our happiness and our lives are gifts from God, so we talked about this invitation to start formation.

 I am so thankful that with God and my wife, Patricia, after a long dialogue with her and both of us discerning through prayers, meeting with our pastor and our mentor, Deacon Carlos Morales, we decided to follow the movement of the calling guided by the Holy Spirit.

 I know that my life belongs to Christ and to his Holy Church.

 In the process of my formation, my wife became my spiritual partner. She motivated me in my difficult days.

 The transformation that God has given us has impacted us in a positive way.

Jeronimo Lechuga


Wife: Estela Lechuga

Home Parish: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Rancho Cucamonga

Occupation: Cabinet Maker

Ministries of Interest: Youth and Prison ministries

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: I got this call many years ago after seeing the need in the parish. The priest needed a lot of help and I thought that maybe God is calling me to serve.

 A deacon in the parish came to me and asked if I wanted to apply for diaconate formation. I said ‘yes’ and everyday since, I know that the call is from God because of the strength I receive from him during my journey.

 When I first asked my wife if I should become a deacon, she asked me if I was serious about the call and I answered ‘yes.’

 She told me that once I became a deacon, it would be forever. She has been a really good support to me because she supports me in prayer and everything in my journey to become a deacon.