ALLOUEZ — A moment that Matthew Faucett had been thinking about over his six years in seminary arrived last week when he was ordained to the diaconate by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, on Sept. 27 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
“I think even more than excitement is a great feeling of internal peace and happiness at this juncture of my seminary journey,” said Deacon Faucett, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay in the summer of 2019.
Deacon Faucett, 25, was born in Lake Forest, Ill., and baptized at St. Mary Church in Crivitz. His parents, Joseph and Sally Faucett, are both from Marinette. The family returned to the Marinette/Menominee area from the Chicago area in 2004.
Deacon Faucett grew up in a military family. His father served as an officer in the U.S. Army for 30 years. Younger brothers, Nathan, 24, and Joseph II, 18, are both in the Army.
Deacon Faucett said that he has been blessed to receive a Catholic education starting in kindergarten. He is a 2011 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in Marinette. He then attended Marquette University in Milwaukee to study construction engineering and management. In 2012, he transferred to St. Mary’s University and Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minn., where he earned a degree in philosophy.
“Bishop (David) Ricken asked me to study at the Pontifical North American College, and in 2015, I started my theological education here,” he explained. “I have been studying theology at the (Pontifical) Gregorian University — the Jesuit university in Rome — since I began here.”
Deacon Faucett added that his classes at the Gregorian University “have greatly shaped my theological understanding of the faith and my ability to articulate the activity of Christ and his church. These classes have greatly blessed my personal prayer life and relationship with God.”
Moments outside the classroom have also strengthened his faith life. Deacon Faucett points to Christmas Eve Mass with Pope Francis in 2015 as a special memory. He also participated in the ancient “Station Church” pilgrimage during Lent. Each day, during the 40 days of Lent, an ancient Roman church is assigned as a pilgrimage site.
“The college offers Mass early during the morning after a pilgrimage walk,” he explained. “This is a beautiful way to see the city, as well as learn from the lives and witness of the great saints and martyrs of the city.”
Prior to returning to Rome this fall, Deacon Faucett spent the summer at Corpus Christi Parish, Sturgeon Bay, and Holy Name of Mary Parish, Maplewood. He also served summers as a seminarian at Chambers Island Retreat House and at the Quad Parishes on the west side of Green Bay.
“I was greatly blessed by my experiences in these different parishes, and I greatly appreciate the time I spent with the pastors of these parishes,” he said.
A large number of supporters made the trip for the ordination, including his parents, brother Nathan, godparents, aunts and uncles and a group of about 30 people from his home parish, Holy Family, Marinette. Priests from the diocese who attended were Frs. Richard Getchel, Mark Mleziva, Scott Valentyn and Daniel Schuster, who vested Deacon Faucett.
“(Fr. Schuster) was the vocations director when I entered seminary, and he greatly inspired and encouraged my priestly formation,” said Deacon Faucett.
Bishop F. Richard Spencer, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services, and priests from England and Italy who have served as mentors to Deacon Faucett also attended.
Deacon Faucett served his first Mass as a deacon on Sept. 28 at St. Giorgio Church in Velabro, Italy.
“Blessed John Henry Newman, an English priest and later cardinal, was named the ‘Cardinal Deacon’ of the church,” said Deacon Faucett. “I have asked people to pray to Blessed John Henry Newman to intercede for my own vocation, so I felt it appropriate to have it at this church. He is kind of an intellectual and spiritual hero of mine.”
Deacon Faucett looks forward to serving as deacon at Masses in the diocese when he returns for either Christmas or Easter. In the meantime, as his preparation for the priesthood continues, he asks for prayers from people of the diocese.
“Please pray for me and Deacon Bill Evans as we approach our ordination,” he said.