Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

1404 East 9th Street | Cleveland, Ohio 44114

Four new deacons ordained May 6 by Bishop Roger Gries

Diaconal ministry is rooted in service to the Church and diocese

Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop emeritus Roger Gries told the four men ordained to the diaconate on May 6 that Pope Francis is challenging us to embrace the ministry of service.

“The authentic power of the Church is rooted in service,” he said, adding that the challenge is the same for those who are ordained as deacons and those who go on to become priests. Bishop Gries told the newly ordained deacons that they were called by the Lord, a theme echoed in the day’s Gospel which said, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.”

Click HERE to watch the video replay of ordination.

Bishop Gries said “we all carry a lot of baggage and are not perfect. We need to rely on the Lord . . . you were called by the Lord.” He said Vatican II put the role of a deacon in perspective by emphasizing the call to serve.

Deacons read the word of God, preach homilies and are agents of the new evangelization, he said, cautioning them to “remember that you preach his Gospel – not yours.”

He said deacons also serve at the altar of the Lord, preparing it for liturgies, presiding at baptisms, weddings and funerals, being “good servants and pointing to Jesus our life and hope.”

Deacons are living expressions of charity, he said, charged with a ministry of charity. He encouraged them to develop a special love of the poor and sick.

“There are three parts to your ministry, but there is only one that you serve . . . don’t be afraid to embrace your ministry. Walk with him (Jesus) in prayer and serve with joy,” he told them.

The newly ordained deacons, their home parishes and diaconate assignments are:

  • Gerard Blanda, St. Anthony of Padua Parish, Parma, assigned to St. Anthony Parish;
  • Thomas Arthur Cully, St. Mary of the Falls Parish, Olmsted Falls, assigned to St. Mary Parish, Berea;
  • Robert David Herron, St. Mary of the Falls Parish, Olmsted Falls, assigned to St. Brendan Parish, North Olmsted; and
  • Keith Albert Walcutt, St. John Neumann Parish, Strongsville, assigned to St. John Neumann.

Blanda is a graduate of Padua High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Dayton. He is a certified public accountant at Great Lakes CPA’s. Blanda and his wife, Lynette Marie, live in Parma and have three adult children, two daughters and a son.

Cully is a graduate of Robert S. Rogers High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The Ohio State University. He is a certified public accountant/executive at Apex Partners LLC. Cully and his wife, Barbara Theresa, live in Olmsted Township and have three adult children, two sons and a daughter.

Herron is a graduate of St. Edward High School and he attended Cuyahoga Community College. He is a retired firefighter. Herron and his wife, Tracy Ann, live in Berea and have two adult sons.

Walcutt is a graduate of Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and mathematics from Baldwin Wallace University. He is a certified public accountant with Thornhill Financial, Inc. Walcutt and his wife, Patricia Ann, live in Strongsville and have five children, three daughters and two sons, ranging in age from 14-29.

The permanent diaconate formation program is headed by Deacon David Kushner.

Bishop Gries also remembered those who helped prepare the new deacons for their ministry, especially Deacon David Kushner, who heads the diocese’s permanent diaconate formation program, and their wives.

“I am especially grateful to the wives. You answered the call to their first vocation, marriage, and journeyed with them to their second vocation, the diaconate. You are a blessing to your husbands and all they will touch. May you, too, find fulfillment and peace,” he added.

Men interested in discerning a call to the diaconate can email Deacon Kushner at, or visit


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