Answering Jesus’ Call

CICERO — Deacon William Mailloux lived life to the fullest. Through his service to others, Deacon Mailloux was a role model to those who knew him. On Feb. 3, family and friends gathered at Sacred Heart Church to pay their final respects to a husband, father, pilot, firefighter, physician and deacon, much loved by his parish and communities he served.

Deacon Mailloux, 72, died on Jan. 29 at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. A resident of Auburn, Deacon Mailloux was born on April 15, 1930 in West Warwick, R.I. He graduated from Hofstra University and the State University of New York Upstate Medical University at Syracuse.

Before the funeral Mass began, two close friends eulogized Deacon Mailloux for being a selfless human being who cared deeply about his family, friends and the church. Brother Gregory Myles, a long-time friend, was the first individual to speak. Brother Myles said Deacon Mailloux left his mark on many lives.

“I saw grown men and women cry and teenagers weeping for that man,” Brother Myles said, “a man filled with immense integrity, sensitivity and love for everyone he met.”

Brother Myles spoke about Deacon Mailloux’s time as a New York City firefighter before he went to medical school. He said the Sept. 11 tragedy really affected him

Of all the offices Deacon Mailloux held throughout the years, Brother Myles said his ordination to the permanent diaconate for the Syracuse Diocese was at the top. “Bill had high respect and knew the importance of the diaconate. Some people just don’t understand their value in the church,” said Brother Myles. “He loved being a deacon. I was privileged to be here for his first Mass and one of his last.”

Brother Myles talked about Deacon Mailloux’s decision to enter medical school and how determined he was to be a doctor. “He told the admissions officer he would be one of the greatest doctors this school had, and he was. He was probably the finest doctor. To Bill, every patient was special and important. He saw Christ in every patient.”

The second eulogist was Msgr. Ronald C. Bill, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Utica and former pastor of Sacred Heart Church. Msgr. Bill began his remarks by addressing the family of Deacon Mailloux. “It’s our promise that he will not be forgotten,” said Msgr. Bill. “Rose, thank you for sharing him with us.”

Msgr. Bill said he met Deacon Mailloux and they became good friends. Deacon Mailloux started a rural health clinic in Northern Oswego Country to help those in need of medical care. “His ministry to refugees, helping young mothers — so many people he helped at no cost. He had over 200 patients at one time and no one paid a cent for this loving care,” Msgr. Bill explained. “His smile, the care and general interest he took in people’s lives — he put you at ease, gave you hope and calmed your fears.”

Deacon Mailloux was a happy person who loved his life, Msgr. Bill said, and will be missed by all. “Deacon Doctor William Mailloux, we salute you. You were a man for all people,” he said. “Go to the God that made you so special.”

Father James Gehl, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, delivered the homily during the funeral Mass with Bishop Thomas Costello as the main celebrant. Father Gehl said although he knew Deacon Mailloux for a short time, he had a bond with the deacon. “Before his illness, Doc asked me to be his spiritual director, but that didn’t happen. He did much more for me than I did for him,” Father Gehl said. “He was a happy person at peace with himself. He was serious about his faith and professions.”

Even after he took on so many responsibilities at Sacred Heart Parish, Father Gehl explained how Deacon Mailloux always seemed to have time for everything and wanted to do as much as he could. “As a deacon, he always wanted to do more. He trained altar servers, did the RCIA program and decided as a physician that he wanted to integrate that into his ministry,” Father Gehl said.

Deacon Mailloux was survived by his wife, Rosemarie Mailloux of Auburn; three sons, William Jr. of California, George and James, both of Liverpool; three sisters, Beatrice Luido, Muriel Petruzzi and Gertrude Crean, all of Long Island; a brother, Reginald Mailloux of Long Island; and three grandchildren.

“Jesus called him and Bill was ready to go,” Brother Myles said. “May the Christ-like healing hands of Deacon Bill rest on the shoulders of everyone here today. To my best friend, my physician, my religious brother — Bill, I love you.”

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