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The Office of the Permanent Diaconate prepares the candidate during his process toward ordination and helps coordinate ongoing formation and assignments after ordination. The ordained deacon is essential to the liturgical and social life of the Diocesan Church.

The Call to Diaconate
Who do you know who is hearing the call to serve the Lord in the Church as a Permanent Deacon . . . maybe you?  God continues to call men between the ages of 32 and 59 to participate in service ministry to God’s people in the Diaconate.

Office of the Permanent Diaconate
625 Park Avenue
Johnstown, PA  15902


Deacon Michael L. Russo
Director of the Permanent Diaconate
Hollidaysburg Office Phone: (814) 693-9870 — Ext. 2669
Johnstown Office Phone: (814) 288-3036
Cell Phone for Deacon Michael: (814) 241-0576


Mrs. Marybeth Heinze
Administrative Assistant
Office Phone: (814) 361-2000

Diocese Welcomes Two Newly-Ordained Deacons

By Tony DeGol


The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has been blessed with two new deacons, and those new clergy members and their wives have gained a new family.


“You see all the love and the people that were involved with us to get us to this point,” acknowledged the newly-ordained Jerome Nevling of those who walked the formation journey with him – especially his brother deacons and their wives. “The deacons are wonderful. They’re there with us, they’re supporting us and giving us what we need.”


Added his wife, Lori: “We’re beyond blessed to be within this diaconate community. We love this diocese and our diaconate family, and we hope to do great things.”


Deacon Nevling even admitted he cried about five times during the ordination Mass, but no one saw it.

“It’s just an amazing day, very moving,” he added.


The enthusiasm was equally contagious from the other new deacon.


“I feel full of joy,” exclaimed Allan Duman. “I just want to dance and just enjoy the day – enjoy the Holy Spirit.


It has been a remarkable journey, assured his wife, Joanna.


“I think it’s an amazing opportunity for the wives to participate in the formation with their husband because it not only gives us an idea of what to expect from our husband, but it also gives us the skills we’re going to need to go forth in our parish and help our parish flourish.,” she said.


Bishop Mark L. Bartchak ordained Deacon Duman and Deacon Nevling on June 1 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona.


A deacon in the Catholic Church is called to serve.


“In that role of being a servant, frustration can occur when the servant does not know why things are a certain way,” noted Bishop Mark in his homily. “Jesus clarifies this for us in the Gospel reading when he says, ‘I no longer call you slaves. I call you friends, because I have told you everything.”


The ordination was the culmination of years of preparation for both men – a process the Bishop called being formed and transformed from being a slave to being a true friend of Christ.

“The truth of that friendship defines what it means to be a deacon; a true servant of the Father of Jesus,” he said.


The Bishop went on to elaborate on a perception among some that the role of most people in the Church is to pray, pay, and obey.


“To pray means to lift up your whole mind, heart and soul to the Lord God,” Bishop Mark explained to the pair. “To really pray is to have the level of conversation that has nothing to do with being a slave. It has everything to do with being a friend with a true friend.”


To pay, he continued, does not mean to reach in our pocket hoping to satisfy the poor by giving them cash.


“The best model of what it means to pay as a servant of the Lord God is the example of the Lord Jesus who said and did everything so that others could encounter the love of his Father,” Bishop Mark reminded.


Obeying involves listening.


“Each of you can immediately recognize the sound of the voice of your wife, children, or closet friend,” he said. “Make sure that you never close your mind and your heart to hearing the voice of the Father.”


Deacon Duman, a member of Saint Mary Parish in Hollidaysburg, said the idea of service is not at all new to him. He served his community as a police officer, his country as a member of the military, and his Church as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.


“This is just another step that the Holy Spirit is calling me to do,” he said.


The Bishop has appointed him to diaconal service at Saint Mary.


Deacon Nevling, who has been assigned to his home parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Philipsburg, cannot wait to engage in his new ministry.


“We’re ready to get started now,” he stressed. “We’ve been working in the parishes before ordination, but we’re excited to get out now and do what we’ve been formed to do. It’s like the old song: ‘Put me in coach. I’m ready to play!’”


[Top photo: Deacon Allan Duman, Bishop Mark, Deacon Jerome Nevling, and Deacon Michael Russo, Director of the Permanent Diaconate.]

[Second photo: Deacon Jerome and Lori Nevling.]

[Third photo: Deacon Allan and Joanna Duman.]

[Fourth photo: Bishop Mark lays hands on the head of Deacon Nevling.]

Rite of Candidacy

The Diaconate community of Altoona-Johnstown is welcoming a new candidate. Bishop Mark formally accepted Mark Komula as a candidate for the Permanent Diaconate during a Mass on September 29 at Saint Peter Parish in Somerset – Komula’s parish.  Mark and his wife, Janis, are the parents of two adult children. Komula is in case management with the Bedford-Somerset Developmental and Behavioral Health Services.

Our prayerful best wishes to him on his formation journey.

[Photo: Bishop Mark with Komula and his wife, Janis, and Deacon Michael Russo, Director of the Permanent Diaconate.]


Antiochian Village Conference Center


[Photo (left to right):  Father Mark Reid, Administrator of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Huntingdon; Deacon Roth; Bishop Mark; Deacon Conner;
Father Thaddeus Rettger, OSB, Pastor of Saint Bernard Parish in Hastings; and Deacon Michael Russo, Director of the Permanent Diaconate.]

Bishop Mark ordained Christopher Conner and John Roth to the Permanent Diaconate on May 26 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona.
Deacon Christopher is a member of Saint Bernard Parish in Hastings and Deacon John is a member of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Huntingdon.  The Bishop has appointed both men to Diaconal Service at their respective parishes.
Bishop Mark in the his homily noted that The Order of Deacon is inseparable oriented toward the ministry of the word and the ministry of service.
“The kind of preacher you will be depends on the way your follow the example of the Lord Jesus who came not to be served, but to serve; to lay down his life so that others may have God’s life in them,” he advised.  “That’s what is at stake when you hear the words of the ordination ceremony, ‘Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach’.”
Continued Bishop Mark:  “John and Chris, thank you for taking the risk to trust in the Holy Spirit, to listen to the Church, and to respond to the people who ask ‘What kind of preacher are you today and the rest of your life?”
Continued Bishop Mark:  “John and Chris, thank you for taking the risk to trust in the Holy Spirit, to listen to the Church, and to respond to the people who ask ‘What kind of preacher are you today and the rest of your life?”

Deacon Chris and  Deacon John:  Congratulations on your ordination.  We pray that God will bless you as you begin your ministry as a deacon. 
May the Holy Spirit shine on you as you serve the community of God’s people.


For a complete list of classes offered, class information and registration forms visit:

These courses offer an excellent opportunity for ongoing formation and all costs are covered by the Diaconate.

Please note that a registration form still needs to be filled out and submitted to The Office of Lay Ecclesial Ministry prior to the start of the class.

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