Infant Jesus Parish
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Interview with Frank Dunleavy



What made you want to become a Deacon? Do you remember a specific moment – or was it a long-term goal?

Generally, I remember thinking “Deacons are cool” when I started dating my wife, Dianne, over thirty years ago. I fell in love with Dianne and her family and I was very impressed with her father, Deacon Harold “Hal” Traxler. He always had a same sense of humor, easygoing personality, and deep love for God and his Church when he was “formally” preaching or teaching at church and “out of uniform” at dinner with his wife and kids, or just hanging out with friends, neighbors or strangers. I always found Mr. Traxler uplifting and encouraging; from just getting people to smile, to helping them deepen their faith.

Specifically, about seven years ago I remember hearing a homily by our former pastor, Father Tim Byerley. He stated confidently that there would very soon be vocations coming from St. John Vianney Church parishioners. To me that seemed almost impossible since our church was probably going to be closed due to the future merger.  I wondered who Father had in mind. Was he already talking to them and training and molding them? Then it hit me. What if he was talking about me?


What has the process been like to get you ready for your ordination?

The process has been both a great challenge and a great blessing over the past five and a half years – juggling career and family stuff with the formation learning (classes, papers, presentations, studying, etc.) and formation responsibilities (serving at the Altar, in parish ministries and diocesan events). And most importantly, making sure there’s one on one time with God for reflection and prayer.


Who were the biggest influences in your life to put you on this path?

People who put me on this path include: my parents, my grandmother, Deacon Mike McDonough, Deacon Harold Traxler, Father Mike Mannion, Father Mike Signiski, Father Timothy Byerley, my wife, Dianne and many others.

People who have kept me on this path include all of the above plus: the Deacon Formation Staff and Instructors, everyone at Infant Jesus Parish including Father Szolack, Father Alfred, Father King, Father Felipe and Father Chris, Deacon Nick and Deacon Bob, and all the parishioners – and my five children and five grandchildren who have kept it “real” and kept me very humble.


Tell us a bit about your immediate family – how do they feel about new role as a Deacon?

My kids say “It’s cool, Dad” and Dianne tells me she’s “honored, proud, and excited” as long as I “just stay humble serving God’s people and priests”.


How long have you been with our parish?

Our family has been with the parish for about 6 years now. Dianne and I both grew up in Blackwood and attended St. Jude and St. John Vianney since our childhood. A few years after we got married we moved to South Carolina, and then moved back to New Jersey after about seven years, to become parishioners at St. Edward Parish in Pine Hill.  We felt called to go back to St. John Vianney Church where we first got married, where our firstborn was baptized, and where Dianne’s father was the first Deacon at that church.


What do you hope to accomplish as a Deacon?

I want to love God by joyfully serving His people, priests, and our bishop.


What would you say to anyone considering becoming a Deacon?

God has a plan and a mission for all of us. If you feel God is calling you to the Diaconate – lean to the “YES” and pursue that call. Pursuing (and discerning) may include: lots of prayer (ask God to reveal His will for you and listen for Him to speak to your heart); attend Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation as often as you can; read the Bible and the Catechism; find and talk to a Spiritual Director, a Priest or Deacon; or talk to the current Diaconate Director, Deacon Michael Carter.