FOUR NEW DEACONS were ordained last weekend at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. Here, newly-ordained Deacon Douglas Erickson kneels before Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger and is presented with the Book of the Gospels. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
FOUR NEW DEACONS were ordained last weekend at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger. Here, newly-ordained Deacon Douglas Erickson kneels before Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger and is presented with the Book of the Gospels. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
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For Al Censullo, the path to becoming a deacon started in his hometown of Boston — or, as the Red Sox fan would put it, before he entered “enemy territory.”

Throughout his life, Deacon Censullo said, he “always had a desire to learn about my faith.” He chose to act on that desire four years ago when he began studying for the diaconate.

On May 19, Deacon Censullo was ordained a permanent deacon for the Albany Diocese along with fellow permanent deacon Doug Erickson — a close friend of Deacon Censullo’s, since they studied together — and Deacons Kyle Eads and Samuel Bellafiore, who were ordained as transitional deacons as part of their path to priesthood.

Just before the ordination, Deacon Censullo told The Evangelist that he was “pretty excited.” Even though studies, work and personal life were “a lot to juggle” during the formation process, he said, now he gets to do what he was “called to do.

“I didn’t know how to do it all, [but] somehow it all got done,” he said.

Growing up

Deacon Censullo was raised Catholic by devoted and loving parents. His mother was the one he said “everybody came to” for advice; she always had a strong faith. He recalled his father walking him and his five siblings to Most Holy Redeemer Church in East Boston for Mass on Sunday mornings.

Later in life, the new deacon saw how much of an influence his parents had on his faith. But, growing up, he wanted to be an airline pilot and spent his days playing baseball or football with his brothers and friends.

His family always had Sunday dinners together, and sometimes he and his siblings got to invite friends over. “Everybody loved our crazy family,” the deacon said.

In 1981, Deacon Censullo graduated from Northeastern University and began working as an electrical engineer in Boston. A coworker approached him and said the young engineer had to meet his sister-in-law, Rose. She lived in Troy.

“That’s how I met my wife,” Deacon Censullo chuckled.

Growing in faith

The couple married at Our Lady of Victory parish in Troy, where they are still parishioners. Deacon Censullo said it was hard to leave Boston and his family behind, but he knew how important it was for Rose to be close to her mother: “If my wife was going to be happy, then I was going to be happy.”

The two moved to East Greenbush in 1994. For the past 19 years, Deacon Censullo has worked at Micron Technology, where he is currently global account manager. But his desire to also know more about his faith never went away.

In 2006, the future deacon completed the Diocese’s Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation program, formerly known as the Formation for Ministry Program (FMP). Some fellow FMP graduates were going on to become deacons, and Deacon Censullo thought about pursuing the same path. After some deliberation, he realized it wasn’t the right time.

Deacon Censullo’s father passed away in 2007 and his mother-in-law suffered a major stroke, requiring her to move in with the Censullos so Rose could care for her full-time. Later, his own mother developed dementia.

Growing a vocation

By 2014, Deacon Censullo said, “It got to the point where if I was ever going to [become a deacon],” now was a good time as any. He was accepted by the Diocese and began studies for the diaconate.

Deacon Censullo had always thought he would want to work in faith formation for youth because, as he noted, he and his wife “were never blessed with children.” But, after seeing the struggles of his mother and mother-in-law, he is now eager to help the elderly, who he says are often forgotten.

The Censullos planned a joint celebration with the other new deacons at the Italian Community Center in Troy. Deacon Censullo called his friendship with the Ericksons and the other deacons “a blessing” he received during his studies.

Deacon Censullo said he is looking forward to helping whatever parish he is assigned to by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, and “being part of a parish family.”