The following permanent deacons are celebrating 30 years of ministry this year. They were ordained at Sacred Heart Cathedral by Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark on April 9, 1983.
Even though Deacon Juan Lebrón moved away from the area nearly 20 years ago, he still has fond memories of the people he worked with during his ministry in Rochester.
And he is proud that his work mainly revolved around helping "the poor and those in need," said Deacon Lebrón, who now lives in Brandon, Fla.
"I would go to the migrant camps," he added. "And I would go to the jail."
Deacon Lebrón moved to Rochester from Guayama, Puerto Rico, in 1957 to find work and eventually landed a job at Eastman Kodak Co., from which he retired in 1990.
After his ordination, he served at the former St. Francis Xavier/Holy Redeemer Church also until 1990.
Deacon Lebrón, 79, and his family moved back to Puerto Rico in 1990, and he served as a deacon for San Antonio de Padua Church in Guayama until 1993.
The family returned to Rochester for a couple of years before choosing to settle in Florida, added Deacon Lebrón, who said they now are parishioners at Nativity Church.
Deacon Lebrón said he has not had the opportunity to continue his ministry at his church but does take part in a prayer group.
"I’m too old to work too much now (anyway)," he joked.
Deacon Lebrón and his wife, Lydia, have four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Deacon Agenol Rodríguez said his 30 years as a deacon have been full of beautiful memories of serving his community in northeast Rochester.
A native of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Deacon Rodríguez said that among those moments were the open-air Mass held to open the Festival del Barrio last summer. He said he felt honored when Father Bob Werth asked him to say the homily.
"Since so many people know me, he wanted to give me the chance to share my experience working in the community," Deacon Rodríguez added. "(The Mass) was very nice."
His work includes prison ministry at the Monroe County Jail, visiting the sick, and assisting with baptisms, weddings and funerals, he said. Deacon Rodríguez also often assists the priest at the Spanish Mass at Our Lady of the Americas.
He formerly served at Holy Redeemer Church in Rochester until it merged with St. Francis Xavier in 1985. Subsequently, he served at the churches that are now part of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish.
Deacon Rodríguez, 66, said he has no plans to celebrate his 30th anniversary unless fellow deacon friends join together to pray in thanksgiving, he said.
"I don’t usually mark (this anniversary)," he said. "But I remember the day and share memories with my family at home."
Following a few years of traveling back and forth between Florida and Puerto Rico in the past decade, Deacon Rodríguez and his wife, Margarita, settled back in Rochester about five years ago. He now runs a small grocery store on North Clinton Avenue.
Deacon Rodríguez and his wife have two children and four grandchildren.