W. Leo McBlain

Date of Ordination: October 4, 1976
Current Assignment: Retired

From my earliest days of childhood, I had a strong awareness of people who served the church – our parish priests, the sisters in our Catholic schools and the Christian Brothers who taught at my high school. I was also aware of the good works that lay people do in supporting the parish community. These people inspired me and they encouraged me to consider how I might serve when I grew up. When I was in high school, I considered the priesthood. However, my father died when I was only thirteen and I saw that I might eventually need to be the provider for my mother. After high school, I studied electrical engineering at Villanova University and entered the newly emerging world of computers. I still felt the call to serve and remained faithful to the church and I was active in various leadership roles.

After nine years of bachelor living, I met Barbara, we married and we began raising a family. I had shared with Barbara my continuing feeling of being called to service. One morning, in the summer of 1973, Barbara held up the local newspaper with the headline “Diocese of Camden Announces New Program for Catholic Men”. It was the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent ministry of the church. “Here is your answer”, said Barbara. I was in Camden the next week being interviewed by Fr. Donald Velozo, the new director of the program. We began studies in September 1973 and our group was ordained as the first permanent deacons in the Diocese of Camden on October 4, 1976. In my forty years of ministry, I have never doubted my decision to follow Christ the Servant. While the road has been rough at times, it is the pathway to which He called me and, by the way, there has been much peace, love and joy.