Zawacki Award

Deacon Stan Zawacki Memorial Diaconal Service Award

Please note: Nominations for the Stan Zawacki award are accepted through January 30th of each year.

The award is for a person(s) who has exemplified a ministry in a diaconal sense of service. This can be a lay person, clergy or religious. It is not primarily an award for deacons or wives but those who have, by living lives that preach the Gospel, ministered as deacons, ministered to deacons, supported the diaconal community, or, in other ways, have contributed extraordinarily to the awareness of, ministry of or to, or emulation of the office of deacon.

When nominating someone for the Deacon Stan Zawacki Award – be sure to include Who, Why, and a brief description of the achievement(s) for which you are making the nomination. Once an individual is nominated, their name remains in the selection pool.

The pool is not started anew each year. The more members nominate an individual the larger becomes that person’s nomination resume.

Send the nomination to the SSDCA President

Previous Award Recipients:


Lori VanAuken, in recognition of her work as Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services

Betsy McDermott (posthumously), in recognition of her dedicated service not only to the diaconal community, especially the women of the community, but also for her tireless efforts on behalf of ecumenical relations


Deacon Angelo & Patricia Coccia, in recognition of their longtime generous service to the diaconal community and for their ministry of charity through St. Francis House


+Bruni Martinez
In recognition of her service to the poor and marginalized, and for her ministry in her longtime position working in Hispanic ministries, especially at Holy Apostles Church on Lyell Avenue, Rochester.



+Deacon Tom Beck
Deacon Tom Beck has served for many years as Treasurer for the Saint Stephen Diaconal Community Association, keeping the books and developing the processes and procedures for maintaining the finances for the SSDCA. This has been an invaluable gift to the SSDCA.

+Deacon Kevin Carges
Eight 4 Third World Hope, which is a grassroots, faith-based volunteer organization dedicated to providing hope through aid to – and awareness of – our brothers and sisters in Third World countries.



+Deacon John & Patricia Crego
Deacon John & Pat are a service oriented couple who have demonstrated long standing ministry directly to our community. They have served the deacon candidates and wives during the Canonical retreat for many years. This ministry has contributed extraordinarily to the Office of Deacons, their wives and participants in the annual retreat. Taking on this important task has allowed the Director of Deacon Personnel and Formation to concentrate on the retreat logistics verses the requirement of providing meals for those attending. In addition, John & Pat served two terms on the Deacon Personnel Board, and John took a pivotal role as chair of the Board and served selflessly in this capacity. They have also organized the catering of food at the Deacon Convocation for many years, and they have also organized and coordinated the lunches for the Deacon Formation Saturdays for many years.

+Deacon David & Juli Palma

For their leadership, perseverance and unflagging dedication to the Permanent Diaconate community
in the Diocese of Rochester.



+Bishop Matthew Clark


+Joan Workmaster

For her collaborative leadership at both the diocesan and national levels; her unfailing support of the diaconal call to service; and her excellent teaching, which has empowered many deacons to be effective ministers at liturgical celebrations.


+Deacon Dan Hurley


+Deacon George & Paula Welch


+Deacon John Tomandl


+Father Sebastian Falcone

Father Sebastian Falcone grew up in St. Anthony Parish in Rochester. He studied at Immaculate Conception Friary in Bronx, N.Y., and Our Lady of the Angels Seminary in Stanton, Va. He was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1951.

Father Falcone joined the faculty at the former St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester in the early 1970s, and he was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rochester in 1974.

He served as academic dean at the seminary from 1972-81. Subsequently, he served as director of St. Bernard’s Institute and president of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Father Falcone currently is Professor Emeritus at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry.

Father Falcone taught, mentored, encouraged, and challenged many of the Diocese of Rochester deacons during their years of formation.


+Donna Ecker

In recognition of her service to the poor and marginalized, especially those she serves as Director of Bethany House, a Catholic Worker home for women and children.


+Deacon Claude Curtin

With a Ph.D. in Philosophy, as well as an articulate proclivity for teaching, Curtin has served on the St. Bernards’s program in Special Ministries. Claude was for a period Director of Deacon Formation.  His energy and vision significantly enhanced this pivotal feature of the program. He continues to offer his expertise in the area of spirituality, especially through his broad-ranging course on spiritual formation.


+Deacon Ray & Pat Defendorf

Deacon Ray & Pat Defendorf, whose pioneer spirit, leadership and vision have been an inspiration to the Diaconate Community from the restoration of the permanent diaconate to the present.

+Deacon Dick & Rose Marie Lombard

For leadership to the Diaconate Community and commitment to Social Justice Ministry for God’s People at home and abroad.

Background: Their “abroad” ministry included numerous trips to Jamaica, Trinidad and Guatemala in service to the people there; the founding of on ophthalmology clinic in Trinidad; shipping 1 tractor trailer load of medical equipment to the Caribbean each year for 10 years, to name a few.


+Deacon William Schmitz


+Deacon Bill & Mary Lou Coffey

In recognition … their willingness to serve the community in many varied ways. In particular we recognize their witness to the dignity of life through the creation of a liturgy for reconsecrating the ground where homicides have occurred.

Editor’s Note: Deacon Bill has been ministering in this area for over 10 years.


Lita Gillette


+Deacon Leo & Helen Kester


+Deacon Brian McNulty

In recognition of his many contributions to the Permanent Diaconate Formations Process, the Rochester Interfaith Dialogue and his Diaconal Service to the 19th Ward Faith Community.


+Deacon Al & Dorie Wilson

Albro Wilson was the first permanant deacon to hold the position of director (1985-1989). He furthered the development of the program of the Permanant Diaconate after its initial years of formation. Deacon Wilson took over direction in 1985, just three years after the first class of candidates was ordained. During his tenure, the program was enhanced with the introduction of a new M.A. track for formation. He focused his attention on recruitment, which during his four-year tenure, increaased diaconal numbers from 49 to 71. Still in the early years the program needed over-all coordination and stability.


+Sr. Mary Hillaire Gaelens, RSM
+Msgr. George Cocuzzi

After earning his doctorate in Canon Law, Msgr. George Cocuzzi served as Notary, Vice Chancellor, and Chancellor of the Diocese. Msgr. Cocuzzi was the first Director of Deacon Personnel (1978-1985) and along with Sr. Mary Hillaire Gaelens work tirelessly to establish the renewal of the Permanant Diaconate in the Diocese of Rochester. At the time of his appointment he was Pastor of Holy Family Church in Rochester.

Bishop Joseph Hogan appointed Msgr. Cocuzzi as the first director and he immediately began the implementation of the Permanent Diaconate Program in the diocese. One of his first items of business after negotiating a budget for the new program was the appointment of an administrative assistant, Sr. Hillaire Gaelens.

The first class of candidates completing formation under Msgr. Cocuzzi and Sr. Gaelens, and was ordained in 1982 after completing four years of formation.

(The Stan Zawacki award is presented in the spring at the Deacon Convocation gathering of deacons and wives.)

The logo you see displayed on each of this site’s web pages as well as displayed at other SSDCA sponsored events was designed by Deacon Stan Zawacki’s daughter within days of her fathers return to the Lord! The community respected Deacon Stan so much that not only did they develop this award, but they also adopted this design as its logo.