Eight Great Men Answer the Call to Become Deacons

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Eight-hundred people attended the Diaconate Ordination Mass and more than 2,000 watched the live video stream on Facebook and dosp.org. Click here to view photos.

Eight men stood at the front of the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg on October 19, 2019 and committed to serving the Catholic Church with humble charity as deacons to assist our priests and benefit the people of God.

Soon after, each one approached the altar and knelt before Bishop Gregory Parkes for the imposition of hands. During this ancient ritual, the bishop placed his hands upon the head of each man, praying in solemn silence for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Bishop then extended his hands over the men, praying that they would be strengthened by the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit and that they would give humble witness to the diaconate ministry of the word, the altar, and of charity.

Andrew Williams of Espiritu Santo Parish, a newly ordained deacon, shared how trust in the Lord and courageous faith helped him to answer the call to become a deacon.

“I now know that despite being completely unworthy and unqualified, I can do all things in God because He is my strength and my courage.  I am truly terrified of the awesome responsibility and privilege it is to be an icon of Christ the Servant, but He has brought me this far and I trust He will lead me to where I must be to serve the People of God,” said Williams.

Rafael “Ray” Ferreris, Jr. of Sacred Heart Parish, Tampa, a U.S. veteran, believes the calling to be a deacon will lead him to new paths of service.

“I’ve always tried to be a man of service to others, I spent 20 in the United States Air Force and always found myself helping the less fortunate in the local communities. However, this was different. I felt God calling me to serve Him in a different way. “

During the homily, Bishop Parkes asked the men to focus their lives on prayer to be nourished by God’s love. (Click here to view entire homily.)

“Always be men of prayer, find strength and guidance in your own personal prayer, lead others in prayer, teach others how to pray and do not be afraid to ask others to pray for you,” said Bishop Gregory Parkes.

Photo credit: Michael Donovan with Life Through the Lens Photography

One of the most moving parts of the Ordination Mass was the praying of the Litany of the Saints when all eight men lay prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary in humble obedience to the will of God. The faithful sung prayers of intercession to the Blessed Virgin Mary and various saints by name. The Litany also included prayers to Jesus Christ for mercy upon all sinners and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The newly ordained men spent five years preparing for ordination through prayer and study. They range in age from 40 to 63. Nearly all have full-time jobs working in fields that range from information technology and finance to engineering and healthcare. One works full-time at a Catholic parish. They are all married and combined they have 24 children. They join 110 other deacons serving in ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

About the Diaconate:

The diaconate is a distinct order within the ordained ministry of the Catholic Church. The bishop, as successor to the apostles, presides over the local diocesan Church. To him is entrusted the primary responsibility of faithfully and integrally preaching the Word of God; of ministering the mysteries of God in the sacraments; and of governing the People of God. Within a diocese, priests assist the bishop as his representatives in and to the local communities of faith. They do so through the ministry of Word and sacrament and by guiding communities in fidelity and charity. In communion with the bishop and priests, deacons are ordained for a distinct ministry, which is indicated by their names: they are ordained, says the ancient tradition (repeated at Vatican II) for service. They function in all three areas of the Church’s life: in the transmission of the word, in celebration of the sacraments, and in the community’s active love.

October 19, 2019 – Bishop Parkes ordained Deacon Pablo Riano, Deacon Andrew Williams, Deacon Wil Huertas, Deacon Rafael Ferreris, Deacon Hector Rios, Deacon Mike Miller, Deacon Carlos Zayas Hernandez and Deacon Marc Garofani to the permanent diaconate at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg. Photo credit: Michael Donovan with Life Through the Lens Photography.

Congratulations to our Newly Ordained Deacons

  • Rafael and Barbara Ferreris, Sacred Heart, Tampa
  • Marc and Ana Garofani. St. Timothy, Lutz
  • Wil and Sue Huertas, Wil and Sue Huertas, Sacred Heart, Pinellas Park, (assigned to St. Cecelia Parish)
  • Mike & Suzanne Miller, St. Mary, Tampa
  • Pablo Riano & Mariana Cristancho, St. Mark the Evangelist, (assigned to Corpus Christi Parish)
  • Hector and Patricia Rios, St. Mark the Evangelist
  • Andrew & Elizabeth Williams, Espiritu Santo Parish
  • Carlos Zayas Hernandez & Teresa Santiago, Nativity Parish