By RON KUZLIK     11/9/2023

Several members of our diocesan religious have previously served our nation as members of the Armed Forces and are privileged to be called Veterans.

They have served as enlisted men and officers, at home and abroad, in peacetime and during times of war.

We are proud to recognize these individuals, first for their service to our Country, and now service to Christ’s Church.

They are (in alphabetical order):

DEACON MODESTO CORDERO serves as Director of the Office for Worship for the Diocese of Orange.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Deacon Cordero enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 22 and served as a Supply Specialist.

While stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea, he had the opportunity to attend a Cursillo Weekend.

“This experience helped get me back to the Church and to start working at different ministries in the Church,” Deacon Cordero said. “Through the years, I received multiple invitations from various priests to consider the vocation of the diaconate.

“At the beginning, I declined the invitations with the excuse that I was not worthy and didn’t have the time to do that,” he continued. “After the third invitation from different priests, I decided to give it a chance.”

Having served as Director of Worship in Honolulu for several years, since 2021, he serves in that same position in the Diocese of Orange.



FR. GREG MÁRQUEZ is the pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Santa Ana.

He grew up in Santa Ana before moving to Anaheim.

He later enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was a military cook, stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, working in Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) silos and later at Neubrucke Kaserne in Germany during the Cold War.

After obtaining his degree at California State University, Fullerton, he was working as an English teacher in Mexico City.

It was after several years of discernment that he decided to enter formation and eventual ordination.

“After serving in the military is when I felt a calling to serve the Lord,” Fr. Márquez said.



DEACON RANDY MCMAHON was ordained in 2007.

After graduating from the University of California, Irvine, he entered the U.S. Marine Corps.

His career led to ever-increasing leadership and command responsibilities and the desire to serve his community which he did through the Knights of Columbus.

He spent 26 years in the Marine Corps before retiring in 1999 and returning home to Orange County.

It was during his time as a parish business manager that a Jesuit priest challenged him to consider becoming a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.

Deacon Randy is currently assigned to Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ladera Ranch.



DEACON HUY NGUYEN was recently ordained on Oct. 14. He is assigned to Christ Cathedral Parish in Garden Grove.

Deacon Nguyen grew up in Vietnam. He and his aunt were among the scores of ‘Boat People’ who escaped after the fall of Saigon and collapse of the South Vietnamese government in 1975.

“After high school, I had so much appreciation for the country that welcomed me wholeheartedly,” he said.

“I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Bulk Fuel Specialist – providing fuel for jet fighters in the mobile airfields, serving at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro in Irvine, Calif., and later MCAS Miramar in San Diego.’’

He served in the Marine Corps for six years, 1993-1999.

It was his pastor, Fr. Tuyen Nguyen who introduced him to the diaconate.

“At first, I tried to disregard it,” he added. “Fortunately, the Merciful God sent graces and encouragements to me through my pastor and others.”



DEACON DAVID STROMSWOLD was ordained on Oct. 14 and is assigned to San Francisco Solano parish in RSM.

When he was six years old, his parents sent him and his sister out to California to visit their uncle for the summer.

It was on this trip, on board a Western Airlines Boeing 727, that he had an epiphany.

“I thought it was so cool to fly,” he said. “I was hooked and had to figure out a way to fly.”

He graduated from the University of Minnesota under a Navy ROTC scholarship, and it was off to The Basic School (TBS), the professional school required of all Marine Corps officers and then flight school at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla., and to jet training in Kingsville, Tex.

He flew the F-4 Phantom fighter-interceptor aircraft before transitioning to the F/A-18 Hornet fighter/attack aircraft. He spent nine years on active duty and 15 years in the Marine Corps Reserve before retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

A captain, he flies for American Airlines where he has worked for the past 33 years.

“I think that the military builds individuals to make decisions and to be able to act independently and decisively for the greater good of the organization.”

He looks back on his deaconate formation with great admiration.

“It was only through daily prayer and discernment, and the ability to say yes, each day, that would allow me to know that it was truly God’s will for my life to accept, humbly, this position in the Church.”