Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory will ordain nine new permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Washington at a Mass on Saturday June 22 at 9:30 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The following biographies of the future deacons were compiled by the archdiocese's Office of the Permanent Diaconate.
Mark Laurent Asselin is a native of Biddeford, Maine, and grew up in Northfield, Vermont. After college, he spent a few years in the Society of Jesus, and later earned a master's degree in fine arts history, and a master's degree and doctorate in Chinese language and literature. He is now a senior manager with the Department of Defense. He, his wife Son Vuong, a State Department architect, and their daughter Sydney Asselin, a student at Carnegie Mellon University, have been members of St. Elizabeth Parish in Rockville, Maryland for almost 20 years. Asselin and his wife serve as catechists at their parish and in a variety of other ministries. In addition, he leads a popular monthly “Faith through Film” discussion group. His summer ministries have included serving the immigrant community under the auspices of Community Ministries of Rockville, the elderly through the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the terminally ill as a Montgomery Hospice volunteer.
Frank R. Avenilla has been a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland since June 2000. Avenilla and his wife, Mae, have been married for 22 years and have two children. He works in science policy on child and adolescent research with the National Institute of Mental Health at NIH. Over the years, he has participated in several ministries at St. Rose as a religious education teacher, Children’s Liturgy of the Word catechist, RCIA catechist, sacristan, acolyte, core team member for the parish’s “That Man Is You” program, and a member of the St. Rose Knights of Columbus Council. Beyond the parish community, he has served in prison and hospice ministries.
Duane A. Clark is a member of St. Gabriel Parish in Washington, D.C. Clark and his wife, Carrie, have been married 27 years, and they have two sons and one grandson. He has been a St. Gabriel parishioner for more than 30 years, and he serves there as a member of the parish council and the liturgy committee, and as a lector coordinator. Upon retiring from the U.S. Army, Clark began his second career as a Department of Defense contractor. He is currently serving as a program manager supporting the United States Army Rapid Equipping Force. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Knights of Columbus. During his formation, he volunteered with the Little Sisters of the Poor and ministered to the homeless.
Wilberto Garcia and his wife Lourdes have been married for 33 years and have been parishioners of St. Francis of Assisi in Derwood, Maryland since 1999. They have two children and two grandsons, and are expecting the addition of two granddaughters in July. Garcia works for the Department of Justice as a computer scientist. He and his wife both serve in various ministries including the St. Francis of Assisi Altar Guild, the “Welcome New Parishioners” ministry and the St. Martin's Food Pantry in Gaithersburg. The couple recently started a ministry to serve the parish's’ Spanish-speaking community.
Darryl A. Kelley and his wife Evelyn are converts to Catholicism and have attended St. Philip the Apostle Church in Camp Springs, Maryland for the last 10 years. They met as students at the University of Virginia and have been married for 33 years and have three children. He is involved in several parish ministries, serving as an acolyte, lector, RCIA catechist, Bible study facilitator and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. Darryl Kelley is a former state Delegate for the 26th legislative district in Maryland. He has also served as a legislative assistant for Maryland Senator Paul S. Sarbanes and is a former deputy U.S. Marshal. This past summer, Kelley agreed to take on a half-dozen cases for the Catholic Charities Legal Network’s new Susan Denison Mona Center in Prince George’s County, while managing a general law practice in Camp Springs. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Forestville Pregnancy Center.
Mark Kijesky is a member of St. Cecilia Parish in St. Mary's City, Maryland. He and his wife, Georgia, have four daughters. Kijesky currently works for the Department of Defense as an engineer. Thus far, his most fulfilling service to the Church has been his years as an adult religious education and RCIA instructor at his parish.
Matthew C. Laidley is a member of Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata, Maryland. He and his wife, Phyllis, have been married 31 years and have four daughters and five grandchildren. They have been parishioners at Sacred Heart for 16 years. Laidley is a retired U.S. Navy senior chief who served 22 years on active duty before retiring in 2003. He works as a defense contractor and an Independent Erie Insurance agent. In his parish, Laidley has served in several ministries with his fondest being leading the altar server program for 12 years. He is a Third Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and was instrumental in establishing the Knights of Columbus in Japan where he is a charter member of Yokosuka Council 12488 and a past grand knight of that council and Archbishop Neale Council 2279 in La Plata.
Eric C. Simontis is a member of St. Mary of the Mills Parish in Laurel, Maryland. He and his wife, Kathleen, have been married 33 years and have two adult children. Simontis has been a member of St. Mary of the Mills since moving here from Georgia three and a half years ago to work for the Archdiocese of Washington as its Chief Financial Officer.
John J. White Jr. has been a member of St. Anthony’s Parish in North Beach, Maryland since 2000. There, he has been active in the faith formation program, the Ladies of Charity, lectoring, the Bereavement Committee, and as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. He has also worked with Calvert Hospice, helping with children through the Bridges and Camp Phoenix programs. During his summer ministry assignments, he has worked with Calvert Hospital and its rehabilitation centers. White retired in 2017 after a career in which he spent 25 years working for the Washington Post as a chief engineer. He is single.
The latest local and global Catholic news delivered to your inbox.