The Cathedral of Saint Thomas More News:

Parishioner Chris O’Connor Prepares for the Permanent Diaconate

March 4, 2024

Chris O’Connor has been welcoming people to the table almost his entire life. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting him, you’ll recognize him as one of our lectors but most assuredly, you will know him from Oktoberfest. He’s the guy behind the grill… at the stove… overseeing the dining experience for 800 or 900 so of our nearest and dearests.

And he does it all with a smile. And a really good spatula.

Born in Washington, DC, Chris O’Connor, and his wife of 41 years, Sandi, have been parishioners since 1985. Together they raised five children, all of whom attended STM School. Their daughter, Mary O’Connor Pometto, taught second grade here for many years.

As a student at Carnegie Mellon, Chris majored in theater and eventually went on to work at Marriott. Today he is the Client Services Director at Avendra Corporation, one of the largest hospitality procurement organizations in North America.

While Vatican II reinstituted the role of permanent deacon, it was not until 2005 that then-Bishop Loverde returned the program to the diocese after an absence of almost 20 years.

For O’Connor, the road to the permanent diaconate has been long and not always straightforward. Through the years, however, he felt this continued call to service. “I started thinking seriously about it about 30 years ago.” He explained that at the time, he had young children at home and Bishop Loverde felt “very strongly that [one’s] children should be grown before entering the program.”

Fast forward a few years and O’Connor began having conversations with Fathers Thomas Ferguson and Robert Rippy. Telling the latter that he felt unworthy, Father Rippy reminded him that “God doesn’t call the perfect; he perfects the called.” Now his spiritual director and mentor, it will be Father Rippy who will place the stole over Chris’ shoulders when he is finally ordained.

“When will you have the time,” was Sandi’s first question. Always supportive of her husband, Sandi is herself a convert, having been raised a Baptist. She jokes that as a young woman, friends always told her she would marry a preacher.

The formation process takes six years, the last four of which are spent in intensive theological and philosophical study. Wives are also heavily involved in the process. “Sandi had to write to the Bishop and will take courses as well.”

Confessing to some nerves, Chris states that “when you’re 64, I just hope I don’t mess up!” He is driven most certainly by a love of the Lord, but also “to help our community and pastor. I want to continue to foster the growth of the Church.” When asked what he looks forward to the most, “baptizing babies; it’s such a joyful and hopeful experience. There is so much promise.”

Chris encourages those who might be discerning a similar call to pray, “a lot.” He wants others to be “open to the Holy Spirit; don’t let your own shortcomings be a barrier.” Most tellingly, coming from a chef who is known to make amazing creations out bits of flour and butter, “Don’t underestimate God’s ability to take you as a lump of clay, [and make] something special.”

For more information on the diaconate program, go to:Permanent Diaconate (