They Are Called to be Servants Six men ordained permanent deacons
As one journey ended, another began as six men from the Diocese of Orlando received their holy orders and were ordained permanent deacons by Bishop John Noonan June 9 at St. James Cathedral in Orlando. It was a day filled with joy and love as family and friends gathered to witness this blessed event.
“Today is one of the most exciting days of my life,” said Jim Ferruzi, the first deacon ever to be ordained from St. Stephen’s Parish in Winter Springs. “It not only represents the ending of a five-year journey to hear God’s call, but also the beginning of a new journey of service to Him and His people.”
During his homily, Bishop Noonan called Luis Baez, Rick Chabot, Ferruzi, Gerry Hempstead, Jim Spindler and Bill Terneus to be servants of Christ.
“A deacon is not a job. It is not a career. It is not a function you perform or an assignment you receive,” the Bishop said. “It is a call. It is a call to be a prophet, to follow, to be a good husband, a father and above all, to be a servant. Keep the word of God close to your heart, remembering Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. He washed the feet of his disciples. He is the role model for all of us to be servants, to give ourselves to others. Imitate Christ in all you do.”
Hempstead is ready to embrace that challenge. “Today marks the beginning of my service to the people of God in a more graced way,” he said.
Bishop Noonan encouraged the men to follow in the footsteps of Saint Ephrem, a deacon of the early Church, whose feast day the Church celebrated that very day. Ordained later in life, Saint Ephrem was known as a man of prayer, a man of example and a man who loved the Word of God.
“In our lives, we need examples. We need encouragement. We also need mentors and we need heroes,” Bishop Noonan said. I pray on this day, that Saint Ephrem becomes your hero.”
Now deacons of the Church, the men returned to their home parishes – Baez to Our Lady of the Lakes, Chabot to Holy Family in Orlando, Ferruzi to St. Stephens, Hempstead to Good Shepherd, Spindler to Resurrection and Terneus to Ascension — to begin their new ministries. With the exception of Terneus, all gave their first homilies within hours of being ordained. Terneus will deliver his first homily during all Masses Father’s Day weekend.
“As the father of three and the grandfather of five, I am looking forward to preaching to my parish during Father’s Day weekend,” Terneus said. “I am excited about what the future holds and what God has planned for me. I have always wanted to serve God in whatever capacity He calls me. I am happy to begin a new journey in faith.”
As the journey to the diaconate ends for these six men, the Diocese looks to the next group of men discerning the same path. Deacon Gray said more than 50 men have inquired about the diaconate and 34 have applied to enter into diaconate formation as an Aspirant. Normally, the Diocese receives 20-25 applications annually.
While the process of discernment and application is not an easy process and takes quite a bit of prayerful contemplation and work to complete, Deacon Gray says, “I truly believe we are in a time in our lives where the Holy Spirit is very active in the lives of families throughout our Diocese. It is a season of evangelization – a time to recognize the truths of our faith and to proclaim these truths through our lives. I see the growth in the number of those wishing to enter into the Ordained Ministry of Deacon to be the work of the Holy Spirit — Godly men desiring to dedicate their lives to Christ and the Church.” “
We are truly blessed to be living in this time of both challenge and blessing,” he adds. “God always provides us everything we need through the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we walk with Christ proclaiming the Kingdom of God!”