By Jessica Able and Marnie McAllister, Record Staff
When three young men are ordained to the diaconate for the Archdiocese of Louisville March 24, they will begin a final year of preparation for the priesthood.
Seminarians Tony Cecil, Steven Reeves and Kirby Rust will be ordained deacons at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown, Ky., March 24 at 10 a.m.
The diaconate is a transitional step for seminarians as their formation for priesthood nears its end. And it comes with a new identity, according to the director of the Vocation Office, Father Michael Wimsatt.
“It’s a kind of apprenticeship of becoming a priest,” said Father Wimsatt in an interview last week. “It represents a significant evolution in terms of the way these men can be of service to the local church.
“There’s a deep mission that accompanies this year in the diaconate. They’ll probably celebrate baptisms; they may even witness a wedding,” said Father Wimsatt. “It’s a really beautiful preparation for the priesthood.”
The three seminarians have worked hard to reach this step, he noted, adding, “I have confidence in the three of them. They are ready to begin the adventure of becoming a deacon.” The ordinands are:
Anthony “Tony” Cecil, 24, holds a bachelor’s degree in Catholic studies from Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary at Marian University in Indianapolis. He currently attends St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Ind. Cecil is the son of Anthony Cecil and Violet Vincent. His home parish is St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky.
Cecil said he feels called to the priesthood because of his desire to be present for people in their time of need.
“It’s really an opportunity to be there for people when they don’t know where God is but want to find where God is,” he said in an interview last week.
Following his ordination to the diaconate, Cecil said he is looking forward to serving the people of the archdiocese.
“This has been a long process so far. Diaconate ordination is saying ‘yes’ in a very formal way. I’m really looking forward to celebrating the sacraments and to learning to develop my priestly identity,” he said.
Steven Reeves, 32, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math from the University of Kentucky. He also holds a master’s degree in secondary education from UK. He currently attends St. Meinrad. He is the son of Robert and Elza Reeves, and his home parish is St. Louis Bertrand Church.
Reeves, who entered the Catholic Church in 2010 and began seminary in 2013, said acting as a point between Christ and his people is what draws him to the priesthood.
“That Jesus would use me to give himself to his people in the Eucharist and forgive sins and to baptize them — as priests, we get to have that privilege; we get to be that point between Christ and his people. That’s very beautiful,” he said.
Priesthood, Reeves said, is an “adventure Christ is asking me to go on.”
“I think, too, the idea of doing something that’s kind of crazy, really committing oneself, I look at that as a kind of adventure. The same is really true for all Christians, no matter what their vocation is,” he said.
Reeves said being ordained a deacon the day before Holy Week begins is especially meaningful.
“The fact that the first Gospel I get to preach as a deacon is the Passion on Palm Sunday, there is something very beautiful about that. That goes straight to the heart of our faith and what we are about here in the first place — the Passion and resurrection,” he said.
Kirby Rust, 25, whose home parish is St. Catherine Church in New Haven, Ky., attended Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis where he earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. He also attended the Pontifical North American College in Rome for one year and currently studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati. He is the son of Beth and Chuck Rust.
For Rust, the call to the priesthood came at an early age. He credits his parents and the pastors who served at St. Catherine with fostering his curiosity for the priesthood.
“When I was a little kid I would practice Mass — very stereotypical. I think Father Jeffrey Leger instilled in me a deep reverence for the Mass. That’s when I first really encountered the Mass as something other than a meal,” he said.
Rust said his diaconate ordination will bring the opportunity to serve “Christ’s Church in a different way.”
“I’m looking forward to the new tasks that are handed on to deacons: reading the Gospel at Mass, being able to preach, being able to minister at baptism and witness weddings. I’m looking forward to being a presence to the people, to remind them there is a spiritual world as well, not just a material world,” he said.
The parish assignments of the soon-to-be ordained deacons have not yet been announced.