Skip to main content

Deacons Panel “What is a Deacon, How I Became One & What Do We Do?”

Jeff Ball – Ave Maria, John Gaulin – St. John XXIII & Bob Gaitens, Director of Deacon Formation – St. Martha

Deacon Jeff Ball

Deacon Jeff was born and raised in California and went to high school and college in Virginia, graduating from the University of Virginia in 1982. He chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Naval pilot, flying jets off of aircraft carriers. He married his wife of 40 years in 1983 and they have two boys, Brian (37) and Stephen (35). After leaving active duty in 1993 he continued in the Navy as a reservist and worked at a defense think tank in the Washington DC area. Having been brought back to active duty in Saudi Arabia to help run the air campaign during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he returned home and later retired from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander.

In the world of the Deacon...

After the passing of his mother in 2000, he became much more active in his faith both pastorally and academically. He and his wife moved to Ave Maria in 2009 where he later received a Master’s degree in Theology from Ave Maria University.

From there, he proceeded to enter formation in the Diaconate program, from which he was ordained by Bishop Dewane on August 15, 2020. He retired from IDA in December 2022 and now works in various apostolates within Ave Maria Parish.

Deacon John Gaulin

Deacon John Gaulin was ordained in the Diocese of Buffalo in June, 2008. He served at the diocesan level as the founder and director of the Sons of St Stephen ministry (in service to the deacons of the diocese), along with planning and running deacon convocations, and leading parish support programs as the diocese began its massive reorganization. A frequently requested speaker, he has led parish Lenten Retreats, delivered sessions at parish missions, and delivered numerous talks. He also taught homiletics in the Deacon Formation Program for the diocese.

At the parish level, beyond the regular weekend liturgical responsibilities, Deacon John led many programs including directing the Parish Sabbatical, teaching many Adult Education programs, and heading up the parish strategic planning process. In addition, Deacon John led various activities including Divine Mercy Sunday, server and lector training, and parish merger teams.

Personally, Deacon John is married to his wife Debbie. They have two adult children, along with three grandchildren. He retired in May, 2021 and the family moved from Buffalo to Fort Myers in late 2022. They joined St John XXIII parish (Fort Myers) in November, 2022.

Deacon Bob Gaitens

I have been married to Margaret my wife of 36 years. We are blessed with three children: Meghan (28) a dentist in Charleston, Mackenzie (24) a post-graduate student at University of Florida and John Patrick (21) starting his senior year at Florida State. We live in Osprey Florida and have been there for 20 years. Margaret is a native of Florida, born and raised. I came to Florida for college in 1980. I was born in New Jersey and grew up in the small town of Medford Lakes where my dad and hero was the mayor.

I have a Masters in Pastoral Theology from Barry University, a BSME in Mechanical Engineering from USF, a minor in Chemical Engineering and have a PE License. I was ordained in 2011 by Bishop Frank Dewane.

Our home parish is St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Sarasota where my family has been going since 1989. When I was ordained, Bishop Dewane assigned me for seven years at St. Thomas More Catholic Church which was a wonderful experience. In 2018, the need was back at my home parish of St. Martha’s, and I have been blessed to serve there ever since.

Bishop Dewane graciously asked me to be the Associate Director to Deacon Bill Ladroga in 2015. And I was again blessed to learn from one of the best directors in the country in Deacon Bill. Deacon Bill retired in 2020 and I have served as Director of Formation for our Diocese since 2020. God has also graced me with a fantastic Associate Director in Deacon Roberto Landron.

In my secular life, I am employed by Eaton Corporation and have been with them for 30 years. Previously I worked at General Electric. Outside of family, and God, I live for sports. Due to Church and work commitments I no longer have time to play but am avid fan of Notre Dame football. And if you want to see me on Notre Dame home games you will have to go to South Bend!