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Prison chaplain finds diaconate ‘a natural step to take’

by Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven

“My dad did prison ministry for 17 years with hard-core felons in Lansing,” explains Porfidio “Ray” Delgado, a candidate for the permanent diaconate. In his father’s final years, Delgado accompanied him on his visits and was blown away by what he experienced there.

“At the time, I was in my 20s or 30s and wasn’t really sure about going with my dad,” said Delgado. “But I did it because he was getting on in years and my mom asked if I would go with him.

“When I went, I noticed a real connection there and saw the Holy Spirit working in the men’s lives and in my dad’s life in a powerful way.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Delgado has been doing prison ministry at the Topeka Detention Center for the past three years. He serves there as one of six chaplains, the only Catholic.

“There’s such a need there, it’s unbelievable,” said Delgado. “Once people know I’m a Catholic, they seem to pop up all over. There are some truly repentant and prayerful people who are incarcerated.”

Deciding to become a deacon was not so much a decision as a lifestyle for Delgado.

“It seemed like a natural step to take,” said Delgado. “My wife and I have been involved in different aspects of parish life and service over the years and becoming a deacon seemed to be a continuation of that service.”

After ordination to the diaconate in April, Delgado looks forward to continuing his role as chaplain at the detention center, while taking on new ways to serve as a deacon.

“In our study, we read about how the first deacons in the church were often used to help take the load off the apostles, so the apostles could primarily preach and teach, while the deacons helped serve the poor, oppressed, and marginalized,” said Delgado. “That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”


Name: Porfidio Raymond “Ray” Delgado

Parish: Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, Topeka

Age: 67

Family members and ages: wife, Dolores (“Lola”); daughter, Sheri Renee; son-in-law, Matt; two grandsons

Occupation: Retired federal service and Kansas Army National Guard as chief warrant officer 4

Favorite food: Mexican What I’m looking forward to most about being a deacon: Visiting and serving, especially the sick, incarcerated and the homebound.

Something people might be surprised to learn about me: I enjoy playing chess.

Favorite saint: St. Raymond. Mom once told me she prayed to St. Raymond for a healthy son. That son was me.

If I could visit a period of church history, it would be: Around 250 A.D. Favorite book (nonreligious): “Of Human Bondage,” by W. Somerset Maugham

Hobby: Reading, especially history

About the author

The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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