The diocese is marking 10 years since it began its diaconate program; the first class (12 of them, like the apostles!) was ordained in 2006, and is pictured below.
Florida Catholic takes a closer look at this vocation and the men who are a part of it:
As the 12 men received the special sacrament of holy orders Sept. 9, 2006, becoming permanent deacons, it was that commitment and the men’s dedication that Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito emphasized during his homily at St. Patrick Parish.
“Their sacrifices are not over, but will take a new form as they begin their ministry and continue in new ways for their ongoing and prayerful formation,” Bishop Barbarito proclaimed.
Then, he recognized program leaders and supporters for their initiatives aimed at the diocese’s diaconate program, marking a 10-year anniversary this year.
The program graduates seven more men this year, and ordination ceremonies are planned to take place Sept. 17 as the candidates complete long journeys to the diaconate. Deacon Dennis Demes, who joined the formation program sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami in the 1990s, said deacons play important roles in the Church, especially with the overall number of priests in the United States declining over the past 50 years.
He explained that deacons, all connected to parishes, perform numerous jobs and touch countless souls “through their service to the poor, visitations and Liturgies of the Word at nursing homes, hospitals, schools, prisons and our diocesan cemetery.” Deacons also participate in marriage and baptismal preparation, evangelization and catechesis.
“In a more formal capacity, deacons assist the chaplains at St. Mary’s (Medical Center), Good Samaritan Hospital and the Veterans’ Hospital (in West Palm Beach). One deacon in particular has been very active at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. One deacon plays a major role in the chaplaincy at the Martin County prison,” he said.
The paper also profiles the men ordained five years ago, and includes their reflections on their ministry so far:
Deacon Jaime Zapata said a peak moment of his past five years was presiding at the wedding of his son, Luis, and daughter-in-law, Christine.
“When I was witnessing their marriage vows, it was a sublime moment, when I recalled my son’s baptism, his first Communion and his confirmation. Every instant in his religious formation came up to my mind,” Deacon Zapata said.
On June 25, the Zapata family celebrated the baptism of Luis and Christine’s first baby, Jaxsen.
“The sum of blessings came when Bishop Barbarito called me to serve as the director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry two years ago. I think from this position I am able to work in evangelization of so many diverse communities. My life is now 24/7 dedicated to the kingdom of God, and my spiritual life is one of praying on the task to be done,” he said.
“I never imagined living this fully my Christian call, and I give the best from myself to what the Lord wants from me. ‘Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam’ (to the best glory of God) as St. Ignatius of Loyola would say. This has been a wonderful blessing every single day, full of surprises and obstacles as well.”
Congratulations, brothers. Ad multos annos!
Meantime, for a glimpse at the future, Palm Beach’s edition of the paper is also profiling the men who will be ordained next month.