May 20, 2014 // Local

Diocese’s first married deacon retires

Deacon Ervin Kuspa honored at Mass of thanksgiving

By Karen Clifford

Deacon Ervin Kuspa, left, stands with Archbishop Michael Blume, and Our Lady of Hungary Parish pastor, Father Kevin Bauman, at a Mass of thanksgiving on May 18 for Deacon Kuspa’s service as deacon to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

SOUTH BEND — Deacon Ervin Kuspa was honored at a Mass of thanksgiving at Our Lady of Hungary Parish for 43 years of service on May 18.

Deacon Kuspa’s retirement celebration was honored by many in attendance including celebrant Archbishop Michael Blume, apostolic nuncio of the Holy See for Uganda, who is also an alum of Our Lady of Hungary School.

Kuspa was the first married deacon of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. In an Our Sunday Visitor newspaper article dated May 23, 1971, Bishop Leo A. Pursley commented on the importance of deacons in the Church.

“It is clear that the early Christian community recognized the need of helpers, of qualified men, to assist the apostles in their mission. They helped bring the good news of salvation to the world and helped establish communities of the faithful and ministered to their needs as the number of disciples increased. They were called ‘deacon’ — a word from the Greek ‘diakonia,’ meaning one who serves,” said Bishop Pursley.

Following his ordination, Deacon Kuspa was assigned in South Bend to St. Adalbert Parish followed by St. Anthony de Padua, with the remaining years serving at Our Lady of Hungary.

Deacon Kuspa recalls that being the first married deacon included its share of challenges and rewards.

“Following the path of the Apostle St. Paul, my diaconate had a rough start, primarily because the clergy did not accept the program. Several of our local priests advised me to drop out of it,” says Deacon Kuspa.

But his perseverance to stay bore fruit. “Now I feel that my calling to become a deacon inspired other men to do likewise. It gave courage to other men to look into the program. The backing of family and friends was very important for me to stay in the program,” Deacon Kuspa relates.

Deacon Ervin Kuspa delivers a homily at Our Lady of Hungary Parish during a Mass of thanksgiving for his service as deacon to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

During his homily at his Mass of thanksgiving, Deacon Kuspa referenced the day’s Gospel reading when quoting, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Deacon Kuspa acknowledged that while the passage is often associated with consolation and comfort, it takes on a broader meaning. “God will always be there,” Deacon Kuspa emphasized.

With God’s eternal presence, Deacon Kuspa noted that Jesus “Himself saw faith in the Father and it was the most energizing, fortifying, challenging thought that He could lay hold of the human mind.”

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who was unable to attend the Mass for Deacon Kuspa, sent a letter that was read by Our Lady of Hungary Parish pastor, Father Kevin Bauman. In his letter of gratitude for Deacon Kuspa’s service, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the many lives touched by Deacon Kuspa.

“Thank you for the mercy and compassion of Jesus the Good Shepherd. As you begin your retirement I pray the Lord will bless you, your wife Verna and your family with His abundant grace. May our Blessed Mother watch over you always with her maternal love and care,” Bishop Rhoades’ letter concluded.

At the end of Mass, Father Bauman thanked Archbishop Blume and the five area deacons that participated in the day’s festivities. And he gave special appreciation for Deacon Kuspa’s service and prayer for the congregation and all parish ministries during the deacon’s tenure.

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