Years of soul-searching, prayer, discernment, and study culminated in ordination for seven men who will now serve the Diocese of Phoenix as permanent deacons. All but one are assigned to their home parishes. Read on for a closer look at the men’s journey.
Deacon Bill Booth
Favorite Saint: St. Joseph “because he was a good father figure, and he protected Jesus and Mary.”
Why he sought the diaconate: As a young man, he lived the party lifestyle but still felt empty inside. A return to the faith led to a deep conversion of heart, two stints in the seminary, and repeated invitations by priests and others to consider the diaconate. “It’s been a blessing ever since. God knows what He’s doing. I’m grateful to Him for where I’m at.”
Deacon Ramsey Echeveria
Favorite Saint: Several. “I carry a different saint with me every day, depending on the situation.”
Why he sought the diaconate: Once a Christmas-and-Easter-only Catholic, Deacon Ramsey turned 30 and felt his life lacked purpose. His wife brought him back to church, where an intense Bible study group led the couple to serving at their parish. “The thing that I’m looking forward to is spreading the faith, teaching, helping people, getting to know people, and building relationships.”
Deacon Rob Estes
Favorite Saint: St. John of the Cross. “His relationship with the Lord, his contemplative prayer, and how he just had that union with the Lord in his prayer.”
Why he sought the diaconate: “I don’t know how to describe the feeling other than: it was an innate tug at my heart and soul that the Lord has had on me for quite some time.” He’s looking forward to serving at the altar, but he’s also been called to serve in a grief recovery ministry that “helps people get through all kinds of grief.”
Deacon Antonio Hernandez
Favorite Saint: St. John the Baptist. He was “a prototype deacon, a herald of the Gospel.”
Why he sought the diaconate: “I think, for me, it was an alignment of this interior calling that I had throughout my life and this exterior invitation that happened for me at Kino when I was getting involved with my parish and also with the diocese’s activities.” He’s looking forward to “serving our bishop, being his heart and ears … Just being that servant.”
Deacon Wayne Rich
Favorite Saint: St. Francis de Sales. He “does just such a wonderful job relating everyday activities to our developing more intimacy with our Lord.
Why he sought the diaconate: “For me, it just seemed like the next step in the growth of our faith. Our family was received into the Church in 2008 … the idea of serving as a deacon captured my imagination. One of the things I’ve learned about discernment and taking the next step is, it seems like the Lord works through attraction.”
Deacon Sean Sylvester
Favorite Saint: St. John Paul II. “I was born the year he was elected and he was pope most of my life.”
Why he sought the diaconate: After years of sensing the call, by 2015 it was unmistakable. “I don’t know if you’ve had the experience where God’s, like, shouting at you; you can’t ignore it anymore. And that’s what it felt like.” He’s looking forward to imparting the Church’s blessing and performing baptisms because “what greater joy is there than to bringing a new Christian into the world?”
Deacon Pat Thielen
Favorite Saint: St. Joseph because “he is the guy that I think of when I think of being a good father.”
Why he sought the diaconate: He was away from the Catholic Church for a time, but it was in the back of his mind for years. “It’s like you have this dream, right, this thing you want to do … But it was like this dream that I had now became a possibility.” He’s looking forward to drawing “people into a deeper relationship with Jesus. I want them to know Him better.”
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