Deacon Bob Garrow says of his upcoming ordination to the priesthood, “As a son of St. Matthew Cathedral I look forward to being able to have all of my sacraments in the same place. Baptism, First Confession, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and now Holy Orders (both the diaconate and now the priesthood) have been received at St. Matthew’s.”
Deacon Bob’s early school years were spent at St. Matthew Cathedral School, then Marian High School, then Indiana University South Bend to round out his undergraduate studies.
His was a late vocation, as he spent 11 years teaching at the junior high and high school levels before answering the “tug from God,” he had been experiencing since the eighth grade, he confides. “I did not feel worthy of this call, but I felt I needed to address this tug at my heart,” he says.
With encouragement and guidance from his pastor, Msgr. Michael Heintz, and vocation director Msgr. Bernard Galic, he began the process. He entered seminary studies at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland, receiving a Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Church History.
“And here it is six years later, I am preparing to be ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend,” he notes.
Garrow credits the strong and faithful priests at St. Matthew Cathedral for helping him grow in the faith. “Msgr. Mike is so knowledgeable of the faith and has a wonderful sense of spirituality.”
And the late Bishop John M. D’Arcy influenced him as well by the way he lived his own priesthood. In addition, his summer assignments at area churches exposed him to many outstanding pastors, associates, staff and people of God.
“I have had the privilege to be assigned at, St. Jude, Fort Wayne, with Father Tom Shoemaker, St. Monica, Mishawaka, with Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, St. Vincent de Paul, Fort Wayne, with Father Dan Scheidt and St. Mary of the Annunciation, Bristol, with Father Bob Van Kempen. I gained valuable experiences that will help me in the future. Additionally, it only reinforced my call to the priesthood as I grew more deeply in love with the diocese every day,” he adds.
“At each stop it has… brought more peace and joy, and has affirmed my sense of God’s call.”
Deacon Bob’s faith formation has been influenced by the writings of St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, St. Therese the Little Flower and St. Augustine. And closer to home, his grandparents, Clare and Georgina Fitzmaurice and John and Edna Bunch provided encouragement and support.
He is the son of Norma and the late Michael Fitzmaurice and has two step brothers, George and Brian Presnell. “My family and friends are excited and happy about this ordination,” says Garrow. He looks forward to helping others see the beauty of the faith as he continues to conform his heart to the heart of Jesus by serving God and His people.
Msgr. Heintz calls him “wonderful, energetic and generous,” assets that will surely stand Deacon Bob in good stead as he embarks on this new life journey. — Bonnie Elberson
Deacon Craig Borchard grew up and attended school in Michigan, first at Holy Family Regional School in Rochester Hills, then at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills. But after receiving degrees in civil engineering and theology from the University of Notre Dame, he stayed in the South Bend area. “Now six years later,” he says, “I am so grateful to Msgr. Schooler and the whole St. Pius X community that I can truly call St. Pius X “home.”
Msgr. Schooler says, “Our parish has adopted him as one of our sons, and we are very proud of him. I have enjoyed getting to know him and recognizing the gifts he brings to the priesthood. He is energetic, very committed, positive and has a good sense of humor.”
Deacon Craig’s discernment of a priestly vocation had its beginnings during a high school retreat when he experienced “the most profound, beautiful, and real encounter with Jesus Christ during a period of Eucharistic Adoration…. After that retreat, the only thing I wanted in life was to give back that experience of God’s love that I had received,” he says.
He delayed a final decision until after college, however, when he was working in Philadelphia at the Theology of the Body Institute, a Catholic non-profit organization whose mission is spreading John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.
There he met several priests whose joy in their vocation energized him to “take the leap of faith” and enter seminary studies at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
Others who influenced him in his discernment were Msgr. Schooler, whom Borchard calls “an incredible mentor in my life,” as well as Fathers Jacob Meyer, Ben Muhlenkamp, Bob Lengerich, Drew Curry and Bill Meininger. Now, six years later, he marvels that he is “ready to be the Lord’s minister.”
Borchard confesses to being “a bit nervous” about praying his first Mass. He is practicing in order to be ready to celebrate worthily and well. He speaks Spanish and eagerly anticipates the opportunity to minister to Hispanic Catholics. He is also an accomplished musician and hopes to contribute by instrument and voice to the celebration of Holy Mass for all the people of his parish.
Deacon Craig asks for prayers as he embarks on this life journey and wishes to thank the people of the diocese who have supported him and all of the seminarians over the years. “We cannot do this without your prayers and generosity,” he adds. — Bonnie Elberson
Deacon David Violi says of the upcoming event, “I am spending time… in prayer. The week of the ordination, my classmates and I will spend a few days on retreat, focusing on prayer and spiritually preparing for the ordination day.”
Deacon Violi spent his early years at St. Thomas the Apostle parish and school in Elkhart, then later at Marian High School and at St. Pius X parish in Granger.
He discerned a call to the priesthood over a number of years, as he had the opportunity to see his parish priests live out their vocations joyfully, he says. And their example led him to become “more intentional” in his spiritual life and make time for daily prayer while still in high school. Then, while at Purdue University, Violi became active at the Newman Center, St. Thomas Aquinas, and realized that God was calling him somewhere else. When he graduated from Purdue, he realized that he was ready to enter seminary studies.
Some of his mentors included Fathers Richard Hire, Tom Ryan, Bill Sullivan, Dan Scheidt, Brian Doerr, Patrick Baikauskaus, OP, and Msgr. Bill Schooler.
Violi credits his parents and grandparents, who lived out their faith while raising a family, for instilling that devotion in him. “Seeing how important the Catholic faith was to them made me realize how important it was to me,” he says.
His parents, Mike and Mary Violi, are pleased with their son’s decision. “We are extremely happy that David is entering the priesthood…. We have seen the joy and love in his eyes in every step of his journey….We believe that God has led David down this path to do His will.” His father recalls a time when his son was severely injured during high school football tryouts and only the prayerful intervention of Father Thomas Ryan was able to alleviate his pain. “We have always felt that the seed of David’s vocation was planted that day,” he relates.
Violi enjoys an attribute that he hopes will stand him in good stead as he undertakes this new path. “I’ve always been told that I am a good listener, so I believe that is something that will help me in this vocation. Listening is always the first step when someone comes to you for guidance,” he notes.
Family members are sharing in Violi’s joy and anticipation in the days leading up to the sacrament. He asks for spiritual assistance, however. “Pray for my classmates and me, both leading up to our ordination and beyond, that we might fully live out the vocation we are undertaking. It is something we have spent many years preparing for, but the past six years have been worth it as we now prepare to begin our lifelong ministry to our wonderful diocese.” — Bonnie Elberson
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