ALLOUEZ — Four deacons of the Green Bay Diocese are celebrating a combined 150 years of ministry this year. Deacons John Maloney and Kenneth Nelesen marked 40 years as deacons in 2018, and Deacons Byron Otradovec and George Schraufnagel celebrated 35 years.
Deacon Schraufnagel, who serves as a pastoral associate and deacon at St. John Nepomucene Parish, Little Chute, was featured in the July 27 issue of The Compass. Deacons Maloney, Nelesen and Otradovec are recognized in this week’s issue.
Deacon John Maloney: 40 years
Deacon John Maloney spent his early years on a farm in Porterfield. His family attended Mass at St. Joseph Church, Walsh. When he was in the fifth or sixth grade, they moved to Marinette.
Following high school, he worked for a company in Waukesha before joining the Army in 1950 at the time of the Korean War. He served for three years.
Deacon Maloney married his wife, Jeanne, in 1955. He worked 37 years for Wisconsin Public Service, retiring in 1993. His vocation developed through his involvement in ministry at Annunciation BVM Parish in Green Bay.
Following his ordination to the diaconate on May 6, 1978, he served two years at Annunciation. When he moved with his family to a new home on the Suamico River, Deacon Maloney transferred to serve as a deacon at St. Benedict Parish, Suamico, and St. Pius Parish, Little Suamico. His ministries as a deacon included officiating at baptisms, weddings and funerals, bringing Communion to the elderly and serving as a weekend hospital chaplain.
Deacon Maloney’s other service included serving on the diaconate board, the diocesan pastoral council and as a spiritual advisor for the Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul.
Deacon Kenneth Nelesen: 40 years
Deacon Kenneth Nelesen, a Sheboygan native, traces his Catholic roots back to fifth grade, when his father returned to the church. He attended a Lutheran school and church through fourth grade.
Following high school, Deacon Nelesen served in the Army from 1955 to 1958. He then worked in a factory for a short time before becoming a Sheboygan police officer. His law enforcement career included the Wisconsin State Patrol, first deputy sheriff of Manitowoc County and coordinator/director of the Manitowoc County Child Support Agency. He retired 27 years ago.
Deacon Nelesen credits the late Fr. Leo Schmitt for introducing him to the diaconate program. He was ordained to the diaconate on May 6, 1978. Deacon Nelesen served at Holy Innocents Parish, Manitowoc, from 1978 to 2005 when the Manitowoc parishes became St. Francis of Assisi Parish. He served St. Francis of Assisi through 2012. He also serviced as an advocate in the Marriage Tribunal from 1981 to 2012. Deacon Nelesen and his wife, Carol, continue to live in Manitowoc.
Deacon Byron Otradovec: 35 years
Deacon Byron Otradovec, who is originally from Lena, served 34 years of active duty in the Army and 10 years in the Army Reserve. His military career took Deacon Otradovec, his wife, Mary Ann, and their family around the country. But for 22 years, they made their home in Oak Creek, Wis.
Deacon Otradovec was ordained to the diaconate for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Jan. 22, 1983. In 1984, the family moved to Marinette. Deacon Otradovec was incardinated into the Green Bay Diocese. He served as a deacon at St. Anthony Parish, Marinette, from 1984 until the parish merger in 1989. He served at Holy Family Parish, Marinette, from 1989 to 2003, followed by five years at Holy Cross Parish, Lena.
Deacon Otradovec was given the additional assignment to serve as deacon at SS. Francis and Wenceslaus Parish, Coleman, from 2006 to 2008. He retired from active ministry in the Diocese of Green Bay on July 18, 2008.
The Otradovecs moved to Florida in 2008. Deacon Otradovec received faculties to serve in the Diocese of Orlando. He is a senior deacon at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wildwood, Fla.