By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published July 7, 2016
FATHER VALERY AKOH
Born: Aug. 16, 1987, in Small Soppo, Buea, Cameroon.
Family: Son of the late Zachariah Akoh and Hannah Akoh; two brothers and one sister.
First assignment: In the short term, St. Benedict Church, Johns Creek. This fall, Father Akoh will return to St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to complete a licentiate in sacred theology.
Education: Bishop Rogan Minor Seminary, Small Soppo, for middle and high school education. Spent a year of discernment at St John Mary Vianney Spiritual Center, Bafut, Cameroon. From 2007-2010, studied philosophy at St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Bambui, Cameroon, receiving a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Earned a master of divinity degree and a baccalaureate in sacred theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.
Hobbies: Playing and watching soccer, basketball and ping pong, watching documentaries, learning languages and reading formative books.
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Banya, Pidgin English and some French.
How did the year as a transitional deacon help prepare you for the priesthood?: “This year as a transitional deacon has been a year of enormous blessings for me. I cannot thank God enough for all the pastoral situations he allowed me to experience that have greatly shaped my identity as his servant. Prior to being ordained as a deacon, I took Philippians 2 as my reference point of the kind of servant I would like to be. With this image in mind, I was able to serve whenever duty called. Immediately after my ordination, I was assigned to St. Catherine of Siena in Kennesaw for the summer of 2015, and during the school year in Chicago I assisted at St. Catherine Laboure in Glenview, Illinois. Preaching during Holy Mass; serving at the sanctuary; visiting the sick and homebound; baptizing and doing funerals are some of the pastoral moments that I had the opportunity to exercise my ministry as a deacon.”
FATHER GERARDO CEBALLOS
Born: Aug. 18, 1988, in Puruandiro, Michoacan, Mexico.
Family: Son of Raul Ceballos and Lidia Gonzalez; sisters, Rosa, Maria, Xochitl, and brothers, Saul and Israel.
First assignment: To be announced.
Education: Attended the Colegio Jose Maria Morelos, Secundaria Damaso Cardenas in Puruandiro; the high school seminary in Morelia, Michoacan; the Pontifical University of Mexico, in Mexico City; and earned a philosophy degree from the Archdiocesan Seminary of Monterrey, Mexico. At the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, he studied English and theology and earned a master of divinity degree.
Hobbies: Hiking, traveling and watching movies.
Languages spoken: Spanish, English, and reads and writes in Italian.
How did the year as a transitional deacon help prepare you for the priesthood?: “While in my deacon year in the seminary, I had the opportunity and blessing to be assigned to Holy Name Church, a multiethnic community in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was a challenge at first because even though the two languages in the community are English and Spanish, the traditions and customs in every ethnic group are very different. This helped me enormously to prepare me for my future ministry in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where we have the blessing to have such a wonderful diversity of languages, peoples and cultures united in one faith.”
FATHER CARLOS CIFUENTES
Born: June 27, 1985, in Medellin, Colombia.
Family: Son of Jose Cifuentes and Nora Posada.
First assignment: Prince of Peace Church, Flowery Branch.
Education: Licentiate in philosophy, and most recently earned a master of divinity degree in theology from University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Also studied American Sign Language at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and spent summers working on ASL with the Disabilities Ministry of the archdiocese.
Hobbies: Reading, spending time with friends, playing soccer and listening to music.
Languages spoken: Spanish, English and American Sign Language.
What has your year as a transitional deacon been like?: “It was a good year. I had the opportunity to celebrate many baptisms and a lot of preaching.”
FATHER ROBERTO SUAREZ BARBOSA
Born: July 15, 1982, in Chiquinquirá, Colombia.
Family: Son of Roberto Suarez and Margarita Barbosa; one brother, Miguel Angel, and sisters, Viviana and Leidy Milena.
First assignment: St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs.
Education: Minor seminary in Chiquinquirá for high school education. Attended St. Bonaventure Franciscan University in Bogota, Colombia, and completed philosophy degree in the Archdiocesan Seminary of Monterrey in Mexico. Studied English at Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio and Georgia State University. Studied theology at University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, earning a master of divinity degree.
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, playing guitar and piano, watching movies, dining out and soccer.
Languages spoken: Spanish and English.
What has the year as a transitional deacon been like?: “It was a magnificent experience. I was able to proclaim the Gospel in Mass, administer the sacrament of baptism and bless the love of couples in weddings. Additionally, I was able to serve at the table of the Lord in the Eucharist. Preparing the altar with the gifts of bread and wine, which would become the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, I became aware that in the Eucharist an exchange happens when people offer not only gifts but also their lives as well to be touched and transformed by the Holy Spirit. Also, I witnessed the power of the Gospel increasing faith, hope and consolation in his people in every situation of their lives.”