November 7, 2023 at 2:57 p.m.
THE CALL TO DIACONATE
A further step on the journey
Seminarian Tom Fallati (far l.) and Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger pose with The Order of Malta, Upstate Area of the American Association, during the New York State Eucharistic Congress on Oct. 21 at Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville. Fallati will be ordained a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Albany on Nov. 18 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany along with fellow Seminarian Paul McDonald. Deacon Daniel Vallejo will be ordained to the priesthood on the same day during the combined ordination. (Cindy Schultz photo for The Evangelist)
(Courtesy photo of Cindy Schultz)
I was recently blessed to receive the call to ordination to the diaconate. At age 53, a father and an attorney, I now take another step on the journey as a seminarian. As I reflect on the route that has led me to this point, I am filled with wonder and gratitude.
I was born in Utica, but I grew up in Colonie. My mother is from Troy and we have family throughout the area. I am the youngest of four boys. I graduated from Shaker High School, Union College and I earned a law degree.
I first felt a call to priesthood in college, but after a period of discernment, I went in a different direction. I married and worked as a lawyer for over 25 years, first in New York City and then back home in Albany. My primary practice was litigation and I served as a federal prosecutor for some time.
A NEW DIRECTION
Several years ago, I became parish council president at my parish, St. Pius X, and began working closely with our new pastor, Father James Walsh. I started leading study programs, lector ministry, wakes and committals, and serving in other ways.
It was this service in the parish that became an anchor for me when I was later searching for direction after my marriage ended. I realized that amidst the demands of work and the challenges in life, my service in the parish never felt like work. I always looked forward to it. It was renewing, a source of peace and joy in my life.
As my parish council presidency was ending, I looked forward to discerning how the Lord could be calling me to continue service in the Church. Father Walsh provided me encouragement and support.
Eventually, I entered into the Diocese’s discernment program and studied in Albany through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry. I found myself drawn further along the path, as I loved the studies. I completed my Master of Divinity degree and then continued my formation at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass. I am currently on a pastoral year, serving with Father Bob Longobucco at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Schenectady. I look forward to serving as a deacon alongside Father Bob who, like Father Walsh and so many others, has been supportive of me as I continue this journey.
Along the path, I discovered that it was precisely service in the parish that fulfilled me. Discernment has been a time of reflection on the tremendous blessings I have in my life. I have a loving, supportive family and the experience of a career in law that was challenging and rewarding. I am especially blessed with a son, Luke, who is studying theology and sacred music at Franciscan University of Steubenville. His faith and appreciation for vocations is a great gift. What the Lord has given me most of all at this stage in my life is this new path. I never expected that I would end up here; this call is the greatest gift that the Lord could give me.
As a lawyer, my role was to solve problems, to have the answers. In ministry, my role is to help bring the Gospel to others, to help others see Christ present in their own lives and to accompany people in their trials and their joys. To share with them that Christ is the answer.
Tom Fallati is a seminarian of the Diocese of Albany.