By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Casey Sanders and Michael Martin — seminarians who are in formation for the priesthood — will be ordained to the diaconate March 19 by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.
The diaconate ordination — which typically takes place one year prior to presybteral ordination — will be held at Good Shepherd Church in Portland at 11 a.m.
Sanders, 33, graduated from the University of Evansville in Evansville, Ind., in 2005 with a degree in mathematics. He currently attends the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. Sanders is the son of Steve and Myrna Sanders and his home parish is St. Michael Church in Jeffersontown.
Sanders, a native of Leavenworth, Ind., converted to the Catholic faith in 2008. At the time, he worked as an actuary for Humana. One of his coworkers was a devout Catholic and took the time to explain aspects of his faith, Sanders said during a recent phone interview from Rome. Soon after, Sanders said, he began attending Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
“I felt this profound sense of peace during Mass. It felt like what I was looking for,” he said.
After he completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and was baptized, Sanders said, he began to ponder what the Lord was calling him to do as a Catholic.
He spent a great deal of time in prayer and eucharistic adoration, he said, noting that the thought of the priesthood was a recurring image.
“I wasn’t very happy with my job; it wasn’t fulfilling me. I felt the Lord calling me to something else,” Sanders said.
He entered the seminary in 2011. Since his conversion and subsequent vocational call, his mother and twin brother, Cody, have entered the church. His father is in preparation to enter the church this spring. In fact, Sanders will be the one to baptize his father at the Easter Vigil in the Indiana parish where his parents are members.
Sanders said he’s indirectly influenced his family’s faith with a “quiet witness” but has never pressured them to become Catholic.
“On their own they’ve felt the Holy Spirit guiding them to the Catholic Church. I never reached out to them and said they needed to become Catholic. But my own witness played a role in a sense,” he said.
Sanders has served at a number of parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville, including St. Michael, St. Luke and St. Rita churches. He has also studied Italian in Genoa, Italy.
Following his diaconate ordination, Sanders will return to Italy where he will complete his studies in Rome. In his new role as a deacon, he said he looks forward to baptisms and preaching.
Martin, 51, attended Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisc., and currently attends Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology in Hales Corner, Wisc.
He is the son of the late Dweall and Jean Martin. Martin’s home parish is Good Shepherd, where he will be ordained a deacon.
Martin, a native of Indianapolis, worked for many years as a surgical assistant in operating rooms at various hospitals, including Baptist Health Louisville.
Though he worked in Louisville, he attended Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Albany, Ind., where he was involved in the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference. He also volunteered at soup kitchens and served as a eucharistic minister.
During this time in Martin’s life, he began to care for his aging parents. First, he took care of his mother, who had bilateral lung cancer. He also cared for his father who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
All the while he had dreams of becoming a priest but, he said, the timing wasn’t right.
He called the opportunity to take care of his parents “a privilege.”
“What a blessing it was to be able to take care of them,” he said. “I look at that as a gift that I was able to give back to them.”
After his mother passed away and his father moved into a nursing facility, Martin said he began to seriously contemplate his call to the priesthood and eventually entered the seminary in 2010.
During his formation for the priesthood, Martin has served at Good Shepherd Church and in hospice ministry in Milwaukee.
Following his diaconate ordination, Martin said he’s looking forward to ministering to people in a parish setting. He will spend the next year completing studies in Wisconsin, but he anticipates the day he will be back with the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville, he added.
“I look forward to growing with them and learning who they are wherever I’m going to be,” he said. “I’m happy wherever I’m sent. We are all God’s people. Everyone needs to be served.”