CARDINAL GEORGE APPOINTS DEACON ROBERT PUHALA AS NEW DIRECTOR OF THE DIACONATE FORMATION PROGRAM
MUNDELEIN, IL (March 15, 2005) - Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, announced the appointment of Deacon Robert A. Puhala as the new Director of Diaconate Formation for the Archdiocese of Chicago effective June 1, 2005. Deacon Puhala will replace Deacon Richard Baum who has directed the program since 2003. Deacon Baum will retire at the end of May.
As Director, Deacon Puhala will lead the program unit which is responsible for the education and spiritual formation of deacons for the Catholic Church in Cook and Lake Counties. Currently, 64 men are preparing for ordination through the program, which is based at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary.
“Deacon Puhala has served as the associate director of the Formation Program,” George said in announcing the appointment, “and in that position, he has made significant contributions in recruitment, communications, curriculum development and strengthening of relationship and sharing resources with the staffs of the Lay Ministry Program and the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral” which are also based at the seminary.
“It is with a great sense of humility that I accepted Cardinal George’s offer to assume the director’s position,” Deacon Puhala said. “I am very committed to the diaconate and will do my best to provide the finest formation for men called to the program, and the wives who journey with them. I ask everyone’s prayers and the grace of the Holy Spirit so that I may continue to serve well the Church, the Cardinal, the university and those in formation.”
“I am pleased that the Cardinal has chosen Deacon Puhala for this new role,” said seminary rector Father John Canary. “He has been an important part of the university community in his work as associate director and he shares the vision of formation which animates Mundelein. I look forward to working with him as he assumes responsibility for this important program.”
The Ministry Formation Programs of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake enroll more than 350 students. All are preparing for roles of service to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Retiring director Richard Baum praised the Cardinal’s choice. “It has been a priority for me to find a seasoned deacon as a successor who would be young enough to potentially hold the director’s position for a suitable tenure that would allow him the opportunity to make more strategic improvements in the formation program. Deacon Bob Puhala brings both characteristics to the job along with pastoral and
academic skills that will serve the Chicago Diaconate Formation Program well. It is with a sure sense of confidence that I welcome the Cardinal’s selection of Bob.”
Deacon Puhala received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Illinois, Chicago; and an M.S. from Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. He is currently studying for his M.A. in Pastoral Theology at St. Joseph’s College. He has been chairman of the Journalism Department at Lewis University; Assistant to the Graduate Director at Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University; and taught at both the college undergraduate and graduate levels.
Deacon Puhala was born and raised in Chicago. He is married to Debbie and has two children, Kate and Dayne. He was ordained a deacon in 1998 and served as a director of religious education at Saint Bartholomew Parish in Chicago and St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Northfield, Illinois. He also has served in a wide range of ministries for the two parishes he has served since ordination. Puhala is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview.
In his secular employment, Deacon Puhala was an award-winning journalist, writing a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times for 15 years. He also is the author of more than 30 books and more than 1,000 newspaper and magazine articles. His communication and people skills will continue to serve him well during his assignment as Director of the Diaconate Formation Program.
The University of Saint Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary has the largest enrollment of any priestly formation program serving the United States. Its Liturgical Institute promotes and advances the theology and practice of the Church’s liturgical life. Additionally the seminary provides distinct and separate formation programs for the diaconate and lay ministry, insuring competent graduates for the parishes and agencies of the Archdiocese of Chicago.