By Yadira Betances
---- — Today, Christopher Wallace is celebrating two milestones — he will be ordained as transitional deacon at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and will celebrate his 30th birthday.
“This is particularly special and exciting because it’s on my birthday,” Wallace said.
Vesting Wallace with his deaconate robe will be Msgr. Francis McGann, pastor of St. Joseph in Needham, where Wallace will serve until May when he is ordained as a priest.
Wallace is one of three men who will be ordained as transitional deacons as they prepare for their ordination to the priesthood in May.
Born and raised in Methuen, Wallace is a 2001 graduate of Methuen High, where he was a member of the debate team and science club.
He received a degree in history from Merrimack College in hopes of becoming a high school teacher.
But, during his senior year at Merrimack, he felt God’s call to the ministry.
“I had a moral conversion in college through praying the Rosary which made me think about the priesthood,” Wallace said.
A member of St. Theresa Church, part of Our Lady of Good Counsel parish, he served as an altar boy.
He also attended cursillo retreat at St. Basil Salvatorian Center in Methuen. While at Merrimack, he brought the Eucharist to the home bound.
In addition to praying the Rosary and going to Eucharistic adoration, he enjoys listening to praise and worship music to strengthen his faith.
“Listening to music is a way to pray without ceasing. The songs that you listen to enable you to take the message to heart and use it as a way of prayer and meditation,” Wallace said.
Wallace is an Eagle Scout and during his spare time enjoys hiking.
“I like being outdoors because you can appreciate God’s gifts of his goodness to us,” he said.
Wallace is one of 67 men studying for the priesthood at St. John Seminary in Brighton, said the Rev. Daniel Hennessey, director of vocations for the archdiocese.
“This is a sign of great hope for the church and the archdiocese that so many men are considering God’s call, specially in this year of faith that the Pope instituted. I think that will be a sign of hope and increased faith for many.”
Hennessey, an Andover native said the majority of the seminarians are in their 20s and 30s.
The youngest seminarian is 18 and is studying in the college seminary; the oldest is over 60, who served as a deacon and joined the seminary after his wife died.
“These young men entering the seminary are very serious witnessing the truth of the Gospel,” Hennessey said.
“In general, they are good men who desire to be heralds of the gospel and instruments of God’s grace and they also are serious about being the agents of God’s reconciliation.”
Another local resident studying for the priesthood is Karlo Hocurscak, 38, of Haverhill.
A Connecticut native, Hocurscak has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Worcester Polytechnical Institute.
He moved to Haverhill while working at Koch Membrane Systems Inc. in Wilmington.
He was laid-off from Koch and worked for seven years at Infor Global Solutions in Southborough.
“I liked being an engineer, but after seven years, I felt there was something better for me in the priesthood,” he said.
A member of Sacred Hearts parish in Bradford, he was sitting in the back of the church one day when former pastor Robert Conole started talking to him and the conversation led Conole to ask him if he had ever considered the priesthood.
Hocurscak attended two discernment retreats, and after the second retreat decided to apply to the seminary.
Hocurscak had always been religious, attending Mass weekly, serving as an altar boy along with his two brothers.
In college, he was a lector and Eucharistic minister. When he moved to Haverhill, he joined Sacred Hearts parish where he was also a lector and Eucharistic minister.
Hocurscak will be ordained a transitional deacon and priest next year.
“I look forward to helping people rediscover God in their lives,” he said.
Hocurscak finds adoration to the Eucharist a way to get closer to God.
“Being in the presence of Christ and praying before him, helps me keep in mind what’s most important,” he said.
During his spare time, Hocurscak enjoys hiking and making wine, preferably white.
“My background in chemistry helps me make wine better; it fits in with my natural skills.”
Hocurscak considers the Holy Family — Mary, Joseph and Jesus — as his role models in the faith.
“The Blessed Virgin is the mother of Jesus, but beyond that, she’s known for leading people to her son. By relying in her intercession, we hope we know she will intercede for us to be closer to Christ,” he said.
“St. Joseph is the patron of workers and the patron of chastity as well. He wasn’t a priest, but he lived the same values as a priest has to live. He provides a very good example for us seminarians.”
Christ Church, 25 Central St., Andover: Convivium Musicum, a Boston-based Renaissance Choir of 20 singers, performs a concert of early music and works by Johannes Brahms, Jan. 20 at 4 p.m. Michael Barrett is conductor. The James Thompson Brass Quintet performs a brass and organ concert Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Barbara Bruns plays the C.B. Fisk organ. Suggested donation is $15 for adults; $10 children and senior citizens.
Congregation Beth Israel, 501 S. Main St., Andover: Students help lead Kabbalat Shabbat services Jan. 25 with blessings, songs, and food. Dinner begins at 6 p.m., followed by services.
Corpus Christ at Holy Rosary, 35 Essex St., Lawrence: The parish hosts “Why Catholic?” — a program focusing on the first of two parts of the Creed, Feb. 4 and every Monday at 1 p.m. and Feb. 5 and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Workbooks cost $14.
De Colores Christian Books, 34 N. Broadway, Salem: The Rev. Andrew M. Beauregard speaks on the Apocalypse of John Jan. 19 at 10:15 a.m. He will discuss the Catholic Biblical interpretation and the book of Revelation and what revelation really reveals. Participants are asked to bring their Bible and notebooks.
Faith Lutheran, 360 S. Main St., Andover: Members of the retiree group, “Prime Timers” meet Thursday at 10:30 a.m. for a slide show on China. Participants are asked to bring a grab bag. The youth group watches “The Hunger Games,” follow by a discussion on the Christian and social themes reflected in the popular movie and book.
Little Sisters of St. Francis, 8 Barnard Way, Danville: The sisters hold days of prayer for women March 23, April 13, Sept. 28 and Nov. 26; for men on May 18 and Oct. 19 and for married couples on Aug. 24 all from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For reservations, call 603-382-7490 or send an email to email@example.com.
Merrimack College, 319 Turnpike St., North Andover: Members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim community come together in Prayer, Feb. 6, 7-8:30 p.m. in Cascia Hall.
North Parish, 190 Academy Road, North Andover: The Rev. Lee Bluemel and the Membership Committee lead “Exploring Unitarian Universalism,” Sundays, Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10, 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Reservations can be by sending an email to MembershipCoordinator@northparish.org.
Sacred Hearts, Bradford: The parish hosts a holy hour of life Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. with adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and benediction.
St. Anne, 26 Emerson Ave., Hampstead: Family Mass is celebrated Jan. 27 at 11 a.m.
St. Basil Salvatorian Center, East St., Methuen: Paul Bolduc, who served on the December Team,speaks at the men’s evening of renewal Jan. 21, 6 to 7:15 p.m. with supper, prayer and song, Monday Night Liturgy follows at 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph of St. Mary and Joseph Parish, 33 Main St., Salem: Pro Life Mass to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Roe versus Wade on Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. Program includes Rosary, music and guest speaker. This month’s prayer breakfast on Jan. 26 is open to both men and women. Coffee is at 7:30 a.m., followed by breakfast, prayer and talk by Deacon Bernie MacDonald and his wife Suzanne. The Rev. John Michalowski leads a workshop on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius now through June. Participants will pray 45 to 60 minutes a day over the assigned scripture passages or meditations from Ignatius’ exercises, then write their experience in a journal. The program, “Exploring the Catholic Faith” where participants reflect on the Sunday gospel and discuss it, continues Sundays, 7-8:30 p.m. through Easter.
St. Mary of the Assumption, 300 Haverhill St., Lawrence: Mass in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia, patroness of the Dominican Republic Jan. 20 at 12:15 p.m.
St. Michael, 196 Main St., North Andover: The Tuesday Bible study group explores the book of Revelation at 7:30 p.m. The parish celebrates Father Paul Keyes’ 50th anniversary as a priest, Feb. 3 at noon. Reception follows. “Why Catholic?” a faith sharing group begins Feb. 10 and meets for six-week to explore the key tenets of the apostle’s creed with emphasis on the trinity, the incarnation and the paschal mystery.
St. Monica, 212 Lawrence St., Methuen: Adult formation classes based on the Catholicism series by the Rev. Robert Barron meets on the fourth Monday of every month at 7 p.m. Cost is $30 for the workbooks. To register, call Jim Lundt at 978-683-1193 ext. 101 and leave your name and number.
St. Patrick, 118 S. Broadway, Lawrence: Mass in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia, patroness of the Dominican Republic, is Jan. 20 at 12:30 p.m. “Life and Faith” adult faith formation series exploring part II of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church will be held Feb. 21, March 14 and April 11, from 7-8:30, through April.
St. Paul Episcopal, 390 Main St., North Andover: The women’s book group discusses “The 19th Wife” by David Ebershoff, Jan. 17.
South Church, 41 Central St., Andover: Adult education course on spiritual innovation, starts Monday, 7-9 p.m. The course explores innovation, neuroscience and the gospel message.
Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover: Rabbi Miriam Philips leads the Jewish book group, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. Members of the temple’s Brotherhood host a breakfast Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. Cantor Idan Irelander leads a bar and bat mitzvah class for adults beginning Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Participants will learn to read Hebrew, the history of music and chant the Torah trope or the musical phrase cantillation applied to sacred text during public readings. “The Lemon Tree” will be shown during the deli dinner and movie night Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. Cost is $15 and reservations must be made by Feb. 7.
Temple Emanu-El, 514 Main St., Haverhill: A musical service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Leading the service will be Rabbi Ira Korinow, the Rev. Gregory Thomas, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, and Mindy Harris, cantor at the temple. Music will be provided by Joe Devoe, music director at the church, the Calvary Baptist Sanctuary Choir, and the adult choir from the temple. Members of the Greater Haverhill Clergy Association will also participate. Haverhill native and best-selling author Larry Tye speaks on his latest book, “Superman: Who Knew he was Jewish” Feb. 3 at 9:30 a.m.
Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover: Trinitarian Congregational, 72 Elm St., North Andover: The church celebrates Gospel Music Sunday tomorrow at 10 a.m. in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Senior Choir performs under the direction of Renee Rivers. There will also be soloists and a men’s quartet sharing Gospel music. The Rev. Richard Knight leads a discussion on Garry Morgan’s “Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day,” Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The book costs $12.
Universalist Unitarian, 15 Kenoza Ave., Haverhill: The church hosts its 27th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Breakfast, Jan. 20 at 8 a.m. with members of Calvary Baptist Church.
West Congregational, 767 Broadway, Haverhill: Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute is guest speaker at the Sanctity of Life prayer breakfast Wednesday from 8 to 10 a.m. Breakfast is free. For reservations, call the Pregnancy Care Center of Haverhill at 978-373-5718 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.