Atlanta’s eight new deacons ‘filled with enthusiasm’
By ERIKA ANDERSON REDDING, Special to the Bulletin | Published February 6, 2020 | En Español
ATLANTA—“I’m Deacon Jim,” said Deacon James Grebe as he greeted well-wishers at the Cathedral of Christ the King. The introduction came easily to the new deacon, who was one of eight men ordained to the permanent diaconate Saturday, Feb. 1. For Deacon Grebe, it was a day that links him to his family, including two brothers who are also deacons, and a son who is a priest, in a special way.
Father James Grebe, a priest of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, posed for a photo with his uncles and newly ordained father.
“I am very proud of him and very surprised. I never thought I’d see something like this,” said the priest. “It’s a special day.”
The new deacon is the oldest of his two brothers, John and Andy, but the final one to be ordained. Appropriately, Deacon Grebe will serve at Holy Family Church in Marietta.
The cathedral was full an hour before the ordination Mass. There was a palpable air of joy and anticipation as friends and family members of those to be ordained greeted one another and spoke of their loved ones.
Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, celebrated the Mass, ordaining, in addition to James Grebe, Deacons Bruce Goodwin, David Hernández, William Kester, Dev Lobo, Joseph W. Odom Jr., Igor Ponce and James Windon.
Husbands, fathers and grandfathers, the men range in age from 48 to 68 years old and are from a wide variety of backgrounds. They represent industries including law enforcement, technology, accounting, carpentry and veterinary medicine. But they all share a common desire to serve their church and its flock.
A holy journey
In his homily, Bishop Konzen said that each of us is granted the gift of a vocation.
“However it appears—however it plays out, vocation is what the Lord says—a calling from God,” he said. Because God so loves his church and his people, he “sent us his Holy Spirit to make us all servants of the love of Jesus Christ.”
Bishop Konzen expressed his thanks to the families of the new deacons who supported the men during their “rigorous formation.”
“To all here who’ve given support and encouragement, the church offers her gratitude for work well done, for the sake of these men you love and for the sake of those they will serve,” he said.
The new deacons will be involved in ministries such as marriage preparation, altar server training, Boy and Girl Scouts, social justice and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Bishop Konzen addressed the men to remind them of the “seriousness of their commitment and their new responsibilities.” The work they will do as deacons will be like that of God’s own son, he said.
“The work you begin today … for you, this work will be a journey. In fact, a missionary journey, not unlike the work of the first deacons, elected to assist the apostles as they took the word of God and the celebration of the Eucharist out to the whole world,” he said. “This holy journey will bring you to a variety of parishes, into many labors and into many hearts ready to receive the truth you bring.”
As they serve, Bishop Konzen encouraged the men to look toward the holy men and women of the church for guidance.
“Let the church lead you then, in your preaching, and your conduct at the altar, in the exercises of mercy and love. The example, as well as the prayers of the apostles and saints you follow, is the storehouse that acts as a dispensary of mercy and love—a fount of charity and spiritual wellness that you may and should tap each day,” he said.
Following the homily, during the holy rite of ordination, the men promised obedience to the archbishop and prostrated themselves face down on the marble floor of the cathedral as the congregation prayed for them.
Bishop Konzen then placed his hands upon each of them as he prayed and consecrated them as deacons. Soon after, the men were clothed with the vestments that they will wear as they assist with Mass.
As they concluded the ordination Mass, the congregation responded with thunderous applause as the new deacons recessed out of the cathedral.
Following the ordination, loved ones gathered for a reception in Kenny Hall. Joyce Guris, director of religious education at Transfiguration Church in Marietta, spoke of her friend, Deacon Lobo, who will serve at the parish.
“When he and his wife moved to the parish, they both jumped right in as catechists,” she said. “He has a real passion for walking with young people and helping them to know the Lord.”
Father Fernando Molina-Restrepo, pastor of Transfiguration, called Deacon Lobo “a gentle soul with a servant’s heart.”
“He’s always ready to serve with a smile,” said the pastor.
Deacon Dennis Dorner Sr., chancellor of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said that all the newly ordained deacons have a heart to serve.
“This is an extraordinarily good class,” he said. “You could really see it at the pre-ordination retreat. They are just filled with enthusiasm and really get what it’s like to be servant leaders. This was a good day.”
Read more about this class of deacons in “Meet the Deacons.”