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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.

Jose Domingo Bonilla

    Wife: Dolores Bonilla

Home Parish: St. John XXIII, Fontana & Rialto

Occupation: Sales Manager

Ministries of Interest: Social justice, marriage, elderly.

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: After serving with my wife in Marriage Encounter Worldwide for almost 18 years, I felt my calling to the diaconate. 

 It was not easy for me, but perhaps I was open to hearing the voice of God. One day, I heard John 15-16 being lectured: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear the fruit, fruit that will last and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” And I said, ‘here I am, Lord.’ So I mentioned to my wife, Dolores, that I would follow Jesus into the diaconate. She wasn’t completely convinced so she discerned for about one year, after which she agreed to walk together with me in this new journey as we’ve been used to doing during our 41 years of marriage.

 I think that without my wife and her support and with the help of God, I wouldn’t have been able to have this life or be on this spiritual journey. My wife will be the best partner in my new role.

Lucio Espinoza

Wife: Donna Espinoza

Home Parish: St. Joseph, Barstow

Occupation: Laborer Foreman

Ministries of Interest: Ministry of Restorative Justice serving youth in Juvenile Hall and other parish youth ministries. 

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: I can remember being told as a young boy in Catholic school that I had a special calling. And, quite frankly, as a young boy, I really didn’t know what that meant; even now, as an adult, I cannot say I fully understand. I do know that we all have a special calling in our lives.

 St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Romans, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Romans 12:6a)

 My answer to the call of the Diaconate has been through lifelong prompting and seeking. At first, I definitely could not say I identified it as being to the Diaconate; however, I am now able to see everything I have experienced throughout my life has brought me to this point.

 With the choice to serve God and His Church as an ordained deacon; I have been given a sense of peace and harmony within my heart and soul.

 Donna has walked this journey with me. She has loved and encouraged me every step of the way. Donna is the most important person in my life, service and ministry and she will continue to be after ordination. We have only reached this point in our life together by the grace of God. And, it will be through His grace that we will meet every facet of our life and ministry together side-by-side, hand-in-hand.

John Gabriele

Wife: Angie Gabriele

Home Parish: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Temecula

Occupation: Self Employed, Krav Maga Self-Defense Instructor

Ministries of Interest: Holy Communion to the Sick and Homebound

Reflections on Diaconate and wife’s role: This calling to serve God started very quietly about 14-15 years ago when I started to ask God ‘what is it that you want of my life?’

 Sitting in the pews, asking this question for one to two years, not knowing that he was answering me, but I didn’t hear him. 

 I kept hearing that our parish needed catechists. I’m a teacher by trade but didn’t think it was for me since I didn’t really know anything about the Catholic faith.

 Over and over again, I kept hearing this and I finally said, ‘okay, okay, I hear you.’ So I taught Confirmation classes for many years and loved it.

 And from there, with the help and example of deacons, priests, friends and parishioners, the calling to the diaconate became louder.

 My wife, Angie, has been by my side through our seven-year discernment and formation process. There is no way that I would have had a successful discernment process if it wasn’t for the time, effort and support on her part.

 Our faith in Christ and his Church has grown tremendously together. She will continue to support this calling and mission as we serve God’s people.


SAN BERNARDINO—Nearly a decade ago, Mario and Paola Martinez began what they thought was a temporary job in marriage ministry for the Diocese of San Bernardino.

 They’d work for a few months as Communications Skills Coordinators, helping to mentor married or soon-to-be-married couples. 

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 In January, Brenda Noriega had what she thought was a once in a lifetime experience when she traveled to Panama for World Youth Day, participated in a meeting with Pope Francis and had international dialogue on the engagement of youth and young adults in the Catholic faith.

 But last month, that whirlwind experience largely repeated itself, this time in Rome, when Noriega, Young Adult Programs Coordinator for the Diocesan Office of Young Catholics, served as the U.S. representative at the International Forum of Youth and Young Adults.

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By David C. Okonkwo

RIVERSIDE—Juneteenth was the day African slave workers gained their freedom officially from slavery. As you remember, slavery was the center of the Civil War between the North and South. It was a time the slaves sang about in their “negro spirituals.” Songs like “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” giving them hope while they bore their daily agony in life.

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By Sister Marilu Covani, S.P.

SAN BERNARDINO—”Planning our future. Always forward!”

 This was the theme that about 200 delegates and participants of the National V Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Pastoral Ministry followed during a General Meeting at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino on May 18. 

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