Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About Me
Knowing that this article should have been in the bulletin sometime over the past month…better late than never. Here is a short bio condensing 54 years into a bulletin column.
I am the youngest son of Annmarie and the late (2002) Paul Aveni, Sr. I was brought up in Manomet, MA (Plymouth) in Saint Bonaventure Parish. My father was a pharmacist and owned a pharmacy in Manomet, and my mother worked as the CEO, CFO and COO of our family.
I graduated in 1982 from the then Plymouth-Carver Regional High School. With my fascination and interest in emerging technology in the 70s and 80s I enrolled at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH majoring in Computer Science, and graduated in 1986 in the second class of that major. I eventually ended up at SunLife of Canada in Wellesley as a network administrator and PC support specialist during the time that SunLife was transitioning from mainframe terminals to PCs. It was an exciting time in the industry.
In my time at Saint Anselm, my faith came alive in ways that it hadn’t in my younger years. The campus ministry at Saint Anselm and presence of the Benedictine Monks allowed for a dedicated ministry to the college community age group in a way I had never experienced before. Upon graduation I got involved in my parish (Immaculate Conception in Malden) and ‘slowly’ began to discern a vocation to priesthood. I entered Saint John’s Seminary in Brighton and began my studies toward a master’s degree in divinity and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston May 16, 1998.
In my 21 years as a priest I have ministered at Immaculate Conception in Revere, Saint John the Evangelist in North Chelmsford, Saint Joseph Holbrook, Saint Mary Revere, Holy Trinity Parish Quincy, Saints. Martha and Mary Lakeville and Sacred Heart in Middleboro (which included the former St. Rose of Lima Parish in Rochester as a worship site) as pastor of both parishes, and Our Lady of the Assumption in Marshfield.
Between my assignments in Middleboro and Lakeville and Marshfield, I was given privilege and opportunity to participate in the sabbatical program at the Institute for Continued Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College in Rome in the fall of 2013 as Billerica was coming together as a collaborative. My time on sabbatical was renewing to my ministry and priesthood.
Now we come to the present moment, where I tend to prefer to live. I am excited about and look forward to my time here among St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish as your pastor. I am grateful to Fr. Shawn Allen and his leadership as the founding pastor of the Collaborative of Billerica, as we build on foundation that he laid.
You can reach me at email@example.com.
I am Fr. Tounoussia Sassou, a priest of the archdiocese of Garoua in Cameroon. I am the second of five children. I was born on September 14, 1980. My father passed on in 2007. My Mother is alive. I was ordained to the sacred priesthood on June 14, 2008. After my ordination I was sent to Immaculate heart Parish in Boula-Ibib as associate pastor for three years. Then I was sent for studies to the Catholic University of Central Africa for three years after which I got a
Masters degree. After my studies the bishop sent me to Immaculate Heart Parish in Bidzar for two years, and at the same time I was lecturing at Saint Augustin Major Seminary. In August 2016 my Bishop sent me for further studies in the USA. From August 2016 to May 2018, I studied at Boston College and graduated on May 22 with an STL (Sacred Theology Licentiate).
I am very grateful and thankful to the Archdiocese of Boston and to Fr. Paul Aveni for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work in this Parish, Saint Matthew the Evangelist. I am excited to work with the community. I love soccer, basketball and Ping pong.
Peace and Blessings!
Fr. Jean Sassou Tounoussia
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deacon Allan Shanahan is one of the two Permanent Deacons for the Billerica Collaborative (consisting of the St. Andrew, St. Mary, and St. Theresa Parishes). Deacon Al has technical degrees from Boston College and the Catholic University of America, as well as spiritual and academic formation as deacon. Deacon Al was ordained in 1986 and assigned for the first 28 years to St. Mary Parish in Pinehurst and now to all three parishes in Billerica. In addition to his ministerial duties, he has taught the faith at all levels at St. Mary, and this has continued for the Collaborative, participating now in Baptismal catechesis, Adult Faith Formation, Marriage preparation, Bible Study, and the St. Theresa Confirmation program, as well as adult Confirmation preparation and RCIA, when needed. Let me tell you about how convinced I became over my lifetime that God was moving me in directions he wanted to move me in, for his purposes, directions I did not will or even understand. I was born and brought up in an Irish Catholic family, living first in Watertown, then Roxbury, then Charlestown. I went to public schools through the eighth grade until I was blessed with an offer to go to B.C. High, a Jesuit high school, where I learned to say the Morning Offering prayer, to make a morning offering of myself to God, at the beginning of each school day. I did this for years and then went to Boston College--and promptly forgot about making my morning offering, although I continued to go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, which I did my whole life. I married my Charlestown sweetheart, Judy, graduated from college, and took my first job in Washington, D.C. We had our two daughters there, Debbie and Eileen, and moved back to this area, eventually moving into Billerica 44 years ago. I must admit that when I moved into Billerica those many years ago, I was not an “intentional” disciple of Christ, someone who made it a policy to continue to get to know God better, love him more, and show that love by serving Him in one way or another. I went to Mass every week, yes, but that was it. I still remember the realization after a half dozen years attending St. Mary’s every week that the only time I prayed during the week was when I entered the church for Mass. When I left, I wouldn’t think about God again until I went to church again the following week. I recognized that something was seriously wrong with my week. There was an emptiness. I had no relationship with God, except in church; I had no appreciation or even awareness of the presence of God around me during the week. And so, I worked hard at trying to restore the daily prayer life I had in high school; I recovered the Morning Offering the Jesuits had taught me there. The last part of the Morning Offering was to pray for what I needed, so I started to pray for the dead, my parents, relatives, and friends who had died. I prayed for my wife and children and all my relatives, friends, and acquaintances. I even prayed for my enemies and all those I had never met. I did all that in the shower or getting dressed for work. I added the rosary, turning off the radio in the car on the way to work and counting the Hail Mary’s on my fingers. I started to go to Mass on Saturday mornings as something extra for God. “Coincidentally” at a Daughters of St. Paul book fair in the Billerica Mall, Judy thought I might be interested in a book she bought: the Liturgy of the Hours, the public prayer of the Church. I started to pray Morning and Evening prayer every day. And over time something wonderful happened. I realized that I was conscious of God 24/7. I could feel his involvement in my life and I felt I was tuned in to His life. When I went to Mass, the readings were finally really speaking to me; in the famous parable of the man who gave various amounts of money to invest while he was away, I was the “worthless, lazy lout” who was giving God no return on his investment in me. I needed to do something for God, not just go to Mass, even though that is of course necessary, but I had no idea what that might be. The parish seemed to be running like a top under Father John T. Lawler. Miraculously Fr. Lawler called me one night, out of the blue, and asked me to become a lector—I said yes. Then, after a while, since I was only a lector every other week, he asked me to become a choir member during the off-weeks. Judy and I both said yes. Then, after some more time, he asked me to be a Eucharistic Minister. I said yes. Then, even later, he asked me to be a religious education teacher. I said yes. Eventually he asked me to consider applying to the deacon formation program. I said yes. I didn’t think I was the best candidate in the parish by a long shot. He said just apply and see what happens. I said “If God wants me, he can have me!” All I had to be was open to the invitations to serve that God was placing in front of me--and to say yes when they came along! God is inviting all of us to be open to his calls as we go through life. Please God, may we always say yes.
Deacon, Director of Evangelization and Communication
Background. Deacon Phil DiBello is one of the two Permanent Deacons at St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish. Deacon Phil is also the Director of Evangelization and Communication at St. Matthew.
Deacon Phil is an ordained Permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Boston, and a long time parishioner. He was ordained with faculties to Baptize, receive Marriage Vows, and preach. In his capacity as Director of Evangelization and Communication, he oversees our efforts to tell all of Billerica, Massachusetts and the World about Jesus Christ!
My Conversion Story. I grew up in a small Italian family on Staten Island, during the 1960's. I attended 12 years of Catholic School, including 4 years at Msgr. Farrell, an all-boys High School on Staten Island. I attended college in New Hampshire, but was not very active in my faith (after all, there were women in college :)). In fact I did not begin to come back to the Church until Deb (my wife of 35 years) and I started to plan for our marriage. By then I had been a Software Engineer at several small companies on 128.
Deb's and my road back wound through Marriage Preparation, Baptism Preparation, Lectoring, RCIA, and leading small Bible Sharing groups. During this time, we were blessed with 4 children, and continued to grow in faith. In the late 1990's, I started hearing a call to serve the people of God in a sacramental way, and started investigating becoming a Deacon. Thanks to Deacon Tom Mullins and Father Jack McCormick for guiding me through the discernment process and being a constant source of support.
I was ordained in 2004, and was assigned to Saint Theresa Parish, Billerica. Sixteen years later, I have performed more than 500 Baptisms and 35 Marriages, as well as preached regularly and counseled parishioners. In 2015, with the advent of Disciples in Mission, I am now assigned to Saint Andrew, Saint Mary and Saint Theresa Parishes.
My life changed with the birth of our 5th child in 2000, with my ordination in 2004, and most recently with a 2011 diagnosis of Colon Cancer. After surgery and months of Chemotherapy, I returned to good health, thanks to the prayers of many parishioners and family and the skilled hands of many doctors and nurses.
As I was returning to full strength at my High Tech engineering job, though, I felt a second call. I started wondering whether God had more in store for me than managing the development of software projects. After about a year of discernment of God's will, Deb and I decided that we would heed God's call to enter full-time Ministry in the newly formed Catholic Community of Billerica.
So, in March 2014, I said goodbye to high tech, and hello to a full-time role as Director of Ministry, Evangelization, and Faith Formation. I have not looked back. Sure, I sometimes miss the people I worked with in high tech, but there is an almost indescribable sense of peace working in Ministry. And, this is God's call, not mine.
Then, in June 2020, I honed my focus to be Evangelization and Communication for the Parishes of Billerica, assuming the role of Director of Evangelization and Communication.But remember, it is everyone's job to share the Good News of Jesus.
What's your story?
What has God been doing in your life?
What is God doing in your life right now?
Director of Finance and Operations
Chris Kilburn is the Finance and Operations Manager for St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish.
Director of Religious Education
Tony Carbrello is our Director of Faith Formation.
Although Tony has been blessed to serve the Church in a variety of occupational positions in different parts of the country, since 2008 he has worked for parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston. Tony and his wife (since 2009), with their son Tommy, live nearby in Bedford and belong to St. Michael Parish, where they volunteer in Youth Ministry. Tony attended St. Michael’s College in his home state of Vermont, focusing on high school education. In 2006, he earned a Masters of Theological Studies from St. Norbert College in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Tony's professional focus has frequently been concentrated on adolescent catechesis; his passion is to evangelize teenagers so they may enter into a life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.
Tony may be reached at TonyCarbrelloCCB@gmail.com or 978.667.3733 x445.
Director of Worship
I am so excited to begin my ministry as Director of Worship, journeying with all in St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish. This is my 27th year as a lay ecclesial minister in the Archdiocese of Boston.
While ministering in the archdiocese as Director of Worship for various Collaboratives, I am also a “Minister-in-the-Vicinity” at Boston College and St. John’s Seminary taking Theology courses leading to my certification as a Pastoral Associate.
These are exciting and changing times in the Church. Vatican Council II’s document, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, reminds us “that the faithful be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations called for by the very nature of the liturgy.” The liturgy is the perfect expression of the Church, “the summit toward which all the Church’s activity is directed and the source of all her power.” All our ministries flow from the celebration of the Eucharist. Through our Baptism, we are all called to serve the Church.
I look forward to meeting everyone, serving our faith community, singing God’s praises, and calling forth you to serve the Church in ministry!
Karen Dubbs served as Office Manager for St. Mary Parish since 2015. Formerly she was Director of Religious Education for several years, and before then assisted the Director of Religious Education.
St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish office hours are 10am-1pm Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Karen may be reached at email@example.com or 978.663.8816.
Heather Murphy is the Office Manager for St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish.
St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish office hours are 10am-1pm Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Heather may be reached by firstname.lastname@example.org or 978.663.8816.
Dino Bastianelli joined us in the fall of 2019 as facilities manager for all properties, and had no idea what challenges awaited him. Dino has been instrumental in preparing and keeping our facilities sanitized since we reopened.
Dustin has impressive experience as both a High School Theology Teacher and Parish Youth Minister. Please welcome him as he coordinates the next phase of our Youth Ministry in Billerica. Dustin may be reached at DustinBatistaCCB@gmail.com or 978-667-3733 x448.