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Matthew Furgiuele Ordained Deacon
On Monday, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, Bishop Bernard A. Hebda ordained Matthew Anthony Furgiuele to the Order of Deacon for the Diocese of Gaylord at Holy Childhood of Jesus Church in Harbor Springs. It is the next step in his journey to eventually becoming a priest for the Diocese of Gaylord. Twenty-five priests of the diocese concelebrated the Eucharistic Liturgy and we were also blessed to have Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme from the Diocese of Maiduguri, Nigeria, and Msgr. Giacomo Pappalardo from Rome who serves in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Fr. Marion Struc, a Ukranian Catholic priest from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, present for the celebration. It was through Msgr. Pappalardo that Deacon Matthew initially met Bishop Hebda, which ultimately led to his applying and being accepted as a seminarian for the DIocese of Gaylord. Deacon Ron Rowe and Deacon Bryan Medlin welcomed Deacon Matthew to the diaconate. Matthew, the only child of Karen and the late Anthony Furgiuele, was born on September 27, 1975, and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Growing up, Matthew spent much of his childhood volunteering in both St. Gregorys parish and within his community. At age 10, Matthew began as an altar server and as he grew older, he began training other altar servers and then taught confirmation preparation classes. Matthew also developed an interest in politics and, as a teenager, began campaigning for politicians and serving on various boards of political campaigns and organizations. He became especially interested in Right to Life issues and has served as Chairman of the Toronto Right to Life organization. By the time Matthew graduated from high school in 1993, he had begun to consider a vocation to the priesthood. He met with the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Toronto and together they decided that Matthew was too young to consider such a vocation at that time and so he enrolled in the University of Toronto to pursue a Bachelors degree in philosophy in hopes of one day becoming a philosophy professor. Matthew finished his Bachelors degree at the University of Toronto and went on to complete a Masters degree in philosophy at the University of Montreal before beginning work for the Canadian government in bioethics. It was his post-college job with the Canadian government that eventually led Matthew back to considering the priesthood. In 2002, Matthew was granted a six month sabbatical to work at the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican, where he lived in a residence that housed primarily clergy who worked for the Holy See. During his time in Rome, Matthew spent many hours prayerfully considering what God was calling him to do with his life. When his sabbatical came to an end, Matthew returned to Canada. Feeling strongly that he was being called by God to further discern, Matthew returned to Rome to begin studies for a doctorate of philosophy at the Angelicum University. It was while he was in Rome Matthew met two men whom he credits as especially important in influencing his decision to pursue his priestly vocation: Father Carmelo Pellegrino and Monsignor Pierino Galeone. Matthew states that Msgr. Galeone helped him to realize the things in my life that I was still attached to and that were holding me back from entering seminary. Matthew finished the school year and returned to Canada to enroll in the seminary at St. Augustines Seminary. As Matthew was completing his seminarian education, his father suddenly passed away. Matthew returned home and was granted a leave of absence. Matthew ultimately left the Archdiocese of Toronto and moved to Sudbury, Ontario at the invitation of his good friend, the Most Reverend Noel Simard, then an Auxiliary Bishop of Diocese of Sault St. Marie. In Sudbury, he worked at the parish of Christ the King serving at liturgies, leading RCIA, visiting schools, and helping with fundraising and administrative duties. Through his mentor Fr. Pellegrino, Matthew returned to Rome to begin studying for his license in Canon Law. It was there that Matthew met the Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, Bishop of Gaylord (and a friend and former colleague of Fr. Pellegrino) and was invited to the Diocese of Gaylord. Though his path of discernment has been full of twists and turns, Matthew says he has grown from each experience. I believe that through the ups and downs of my life, and even the long and winding path towards the priesthood which I have followed, that nothing has been lost, Matthew noted. I have had to learn patience and perseverance the hard way, and, in our culture of instant gratification, I believe that the lessons I have learned will bear fruit for others. Since his arrival in Northern Michigan, Matthew has had three assignments or parish experiences. He spent last summer with Fr. Joseph Graff at Holy Childhood of Jesus in Harbor Springs, which he now considers his home parish. He then served under Fr. Charles Donajkowski at Holy Family in Tawas and Sacred Heart in Oscoda. He has spent nearly all of this year with Fr. Matthew Wigton at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Charlevoix. He is also a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a group he has said has been extremely supportive of his vocation. As he looks forward to one day serving as a member of the presbyterate, Matthew says, I truly believe that God has led me here to the Diocese of Gaylord I have never been happier than this past year where I have been living and working in the Diocese. I am looking forward to spending the rest of my life here helping others to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. After his diaconate ordination, Matthew will return to Rome to continue studies for his license in Canon Law.