Surrounded by nearly his entire extended family, Alexander Pince was overwhelmed with emotion before, during and after his ordination to the Transitional Diaconate Aug. 29, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, presiding over the Rite, informed Pince that ordination makes him a minister of the Word, Altar and Charity. “Be a servant of all… You come here freely and have worked hard to put yourself in this particular place, making a commitment to be of service to the Lord and those around you.”
Pince has chosen to live his life in a particular way, Bishop Dewane continued. “Live this life you have chosen to the fullest… Take comfort in prayer which should become the center of your daily life.”
Deacon Pince explained afterwards how the emotions of joy, blessings, and supreme happiness accompanied him throughout the day. “What a beautiful and blessed experience,” he said.
Deacon Pince, 29, was born in Concord, N.H., and is the fourth of seven children. He is a graduate of Ave Maria University and is currently studying at Pontifical North American College in Rome where the ordination was originally scheduled. However, due to the global pandemic, the location and date were changed to allow family and friends to attend while international travel restrictions persist.
As part of the Rite, Pince was called forward as a candidate and presented to the Bishop for examination and then election. Following the Homily, in a series of questions, Pince knelt before the Bishop and promised respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, he then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints.
Following the Litany, the candidate again knelt before the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide his ministry. Next, Pince received a stole and dalmatic (the exterior garb of a deacon), signifying the office of Diaconate and the Deacon’s role in the celebration of the Eucharist.
Deacon Pince returned to kneel before Bishop Dewane, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in his hands and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” The Rite of Ordination concluded with the sign of peace.
The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, a Deacon performs many services in the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priesthood and of the Episcopate. In Parish life, Deacons may preside at baptisms, weddings and perform funerals and burial services, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and deliver homilies. The new Transitional Deacon has an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.
The first public Mass for Deacon Pince was Aug. 30, 2020 at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, with his uncle and inspiration, Father Peter Williams, serving as the main celebrant. After his first Mass, Deacon Pince baptized his infant cousin, the newest member of his extended family.
Jeffrey Ball, Enrique (Rick) Castro, Ramiro Hernandez, Jack W. Milholland Jr., Roberto Pagán, Vern W. Smith, and Dr. William Soscia reached the altar of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice by very different paths.
Through their passionate belief in their Faith and with the support of their wives, children, family and friends, they arrived to take the of the Permanent Diaconate in the Diocese of Venice on Aug. 15, 2020, The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The men processed into Epiphany Cathedral dressed in white albs of a candidate. It wasn’t until Bishop Frank J. Dewane laid his hands upon the head of each candidate that they were officially ordained Deacons. During this moment, in silence, he laid his hands on each man’s head and prayed for an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The imposition of the Bishop’s hands confers grace and spiritual power.
The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice is to: serve as ministers of charity, lead in identifying the needs of others and strive to meet those needs; serve as ministers of the Word, when they proclaim the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and lead the faithful in prayer.
Deacons Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Milholland of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton, are examples of men who chose to give their lives to Jesus Christ in this unique way, Bishop Dewane noted.
“Your soul has been indelibly marked; be conscious of the change that has taken place within you,” the Bishop continued. “As Deacons you are loved by Jesus Christ in a particular way that comes with a grace from your response to His call. Be the instrument of Jesus Christ in response to that love.”
Bishop Dewane called on the men to be the leaven in the community and to be a pillar in their Parish while calling others to the Faith. “The Lord will give you the words,” he said. “Your life experiences will add meaning to those words and serve you well. Do the will of God from your heart and serve the people with love and joy.”
During his homily, the Bishop also took time to thank the wives of the Deacons for their effort in joining their husbands sacramentally, through marriage, on this spiritual journey. He noted that the partnership they have, and the support from the whole family has helped to shape the new Deacons into who they are today: men of God.
Deacon Hernandez said he was nervous beforehand but felt the presence of the Lord by his side as the ordination progressed. The emotions were most pronounced during the Litany of Saints, when the seven were prostrate before the altar while everyone sang the beautiful prayer. A tranquility then came over him during the laying of hands by Bishop Dewane. “It is hard to describe that moment, but it was wonderful. The joy the beauty of this day is like nothing I have ever experienced. I feel so blessed.”
At the start of the formal Rite, the candidates were called forth before Bishop Dewane by Diaconate Director of Formation Deacon William Ladroga and then they were presented to the Bishop for his examination by Permanent Diaconate Director Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C.
The election by Bishop Dewane includes the following prayer: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose these, our brothers, for the Order of the Diaconate.” The gathered deacons, priests and faithful responded: “Thanks be to God.”
After the homily, the candidates came forward, and the Bishop asked them whether they were willing to accept the responsibilities of the ministry: to live in humble charity, to hold fast to the mystery of the faith, to celebrate the liturgy of hours with and for the People of God, and to maintain and deepen their prayer lives. To each question, the candidates responded, “I do.” Then each individually approached and kneeled before Bishop to give their promise of obedience to the Bishop and his successors.
The celebration consists of several parts including the presentation of the Book of Gospels and the fraternal greeting.
In addition to family, many friends and supporters, priests, deacons, Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta and Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, were present for the ceremony. Necessarily postponed from and earlier date due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic, the celebration was streamed live for anyone unable to attend. A reception followed in the Epiphany Cathedral Parish Hall where friends and family congratulated the men on this special day.
Seven diaconate candidates took an Oath of Fidelity and gave a Profession of Faith on July 29, 2020, the final hurdle before the group will be ordained as Permanent Deacons on Aug. 15, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over Mass and the ceremony at Our Lady of Perpetual Retreat Center in Venice where the men were concluding a 5-day canonical ordination retreat.
Jeffrey Ball of Ave Maria Parish, Ave Maria; Enrique (Rick) Castro of St. Cecilia Parish, Fort Myers; Ramiro Hernandez of St. Michael Parish, Wauchula; Jack W. Milholland Jr. of Our Lady of the Angels Parish, Lakewood Ranch; Roberto Pagán of Jesus the Worker Parish, Fort Myers; Vern W. Smith of St. Martha Parish, Sarasota; and Dr. William Soscia of St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton, are each concluding five years of discernment and study leading up to their ordination.
Bishop Dewane thanked Ball, Castro, Hernandez, Milholand, Pagán, Smith and Soscia, for having answered the call of Jesus to live their life in a particular way. “You have been chosen to a specific status which you are committed to. This Oath and Profession are a public expression of a promise to live your Faith in a precise way.”
During the Oath, the diaconate candidates recited the Profession of Faith for all to hear. The candidates then read the “Oath of Fidelity” and promised to “adhere to the teachings, which either the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise authentic magisterium.” The ceremony concluded with the signing of documents by the candidates and the Bishop.
The Bishop was joined by Father Fausto Stampiglia, S.A.C., Director of the Diaconate and Pastor of St. Martha Parish in Sarasota; Deacon William Ladroga, Director of Diaconate Formation; and J. Robert Gaitens, Associate Director of Diaconate Formation.
During the process to become a Permanent Deacon, the seven have received training in theology, canon law and pastoral ministry. In 2019, they were admitted as acolytes to assist priests and other Permanent Deacons on the altar during Mass. Prior to that, they were admitted as candidates when they publicly declared their intention of becoming Deacons and the Bishop accepted them. They were also instituted as readers so they could read the Scriptures during Mass.
To a man, they describe their journey toward ordination as both a challenging and life-changing process which started with answering a call from the Lord they heard deep in their heart. Each also credit their wife for supporting and joining them on this journey of enlightenment.
The mission of the Permanent Deacons of the Diocese of Venice is to: serve as ministers of charity, lead in identifying the needs of others and strive to meet those needs; serve as ministers of the Word, when they proclaim the Gospel, preaching and teaching in the name of the Church; serve as ministers of the Sacrament of Baptism; witness marriages; conduct wake and funeral services; and lead the faithful in prayer.
Their ordination ceremony, celebrated by Bishop Dewane, is 11 a.m. Aug. 15, 2020, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. The Mass, which was postponed from early June due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, will include the wearing of masks and social distancing whenever possible. All are encouraged and welcome to attend. A reception will follow in the Cathedral Parish Hall.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Franckel in a Rite of Ordination, an age-old ceremony that was witnessed by the faithful on June 27, 2020 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
Bishop Dewane told Father Franckel that through ordination, he becomes forever raised to the rank of priest in the Body of Christ. With that rank comes great responsibility – to sanctify, to teach, to love and serve just as Christ taught.
“Thank you for coming forward in your response to the call of Jesus Christ,” Bishop Dewane said of the long and sometimes difficult journey made by Father Franckel to reach this moment. “We celebrate you as you are sent forth to preach the Gospel; to be the Good Shepherd of God’s people; and to celebrate the Liturgy, especially the Lord’s Sacrifice on His Table. In doing so you bring together the faithful of the community as you pray with them and for them to the Lord.”
Father Fils-Aime, 41, who was born in the Cornillon region of Haiti in the town of Potino, said he feels blessed by God to be ordained and feels the love of the people of the Diocese of Venice. “I am grateful for all of the prayers and support I have received during this journey and feel I am prepared to serve the people as I continue to trust in God.”
The ordination was a bright moment for the Diocese during this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. All present wore masks and maint
ained social distancing. While there were many family and friends present, the immediate family of Father Franckel was not able to attend as they were home in Haiti, unable to travel. To help bridge that gap in distance, the ordination was streamed live through social media.
To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Franckel forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Franckel and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Franckel Fils-Aime, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”
During the Rite of Ordination, Fils-Aime knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Fils-Aime then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication (Litany of Saints).
After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Franckel again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head of the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to pray over Father Fils-Aime. Next, Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, prayed the Prayer of Ordination.
Father Franckel was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Timothy Navin, Pastor of San Marco Parish in Marco Island, the location of his first pastoral assignment as a seminarian of the Diocese. The hands of Father Franckel were then anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make his ministry fruitful.
Next, the Bishop presented Father Fils-Aime with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Franckel to all those present to enthusiastic applause.
Journey to ordination
A recent graduate from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Father completed more than 14 years of priestly discernment and formation. He first entered seminary in the Dominican Republic studying to become a Franciscan Capuchin Friar. He spent nine years in formation before discerning a call to Diocesan priesthood in Venice. During this time, he studied in the Dominican Republic and Brazil, eventually earning a philosophy degree from Centro Universitario Franciscano in Brazil.
Father Franckel learned of the Diocese of Venice through holiday visits to the area which included participation in the annual New Year’s Day Mass celebrating the anniversary of Haitian Independence for the Haitian Catholic Community of the Diocese of Venice. There he met Msgr. Patrick Dubois who then arranged an introduction and meeting with Bishop Dewane.
In addition to his pastoral assignment at San Marco Parish, he later held summer assignments at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Avon Park, St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, as well as a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral.
Along with family and friends, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the Parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass.
The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Franckel Fils-Aime was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.
Vespers and First Masses
On the eve of his ordination, a Solemn Vespers was celebrated at San Marco Parish for then-Deacon Fils-Aime. During this prayer service Bishop Dewane blessed the priestly vestments and chalices which were used by the newly ordained at his first public Masses on June 28, 2020.
The first Mass celebrated by Father Franckel was at San Marco Parish. There, Father admitted that when he first arrived at the Parish in 2015 his English was limited and credits the priests and staff of San Marco for how well he speaks the language, and how poorly, he joked. During the Mass, he added: “The people of San Marco welcomed me with their hearts open and I consider them to be a part of my family,” he said. “I love you all for what you did for me and who you are.”
As is tradition, during the first Mass of a newly ordained priest, another priest delivers the homily. In this case it was Father Jack Costello, Rector of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, who spoke about then-Seminarian Franckel serving a pastoral year at the Cathedral. Father Costello noted how blessed the Diocese was to have a new priest, one who is well prepared to serve the faithful with sincerity and compassion.
The second Mass of the day was in the afternoon, celebrated in Haitian Creole at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Fort Myers. While there are nine active priests serving in the Diocese from Haiti, Father Fils-Aime was recognized as the first Haitian priest to be ordained for the Diocese in more than 15 years. Father Jean Woady Louis, Parochial Vicar of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, delivered the homily noting how important it is to have a priest to provide the Sacraments in their native language.
At both Masses, which were streamed live on social media so his family and friends could watch from afar, Father Fils-Aime shared how his parents, Voguel Fils-Aime and Philomène Remy, supported his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. He expressed regret that his mother, who passed away in 2011, was not alive to see him reach his priestly ordination but was confident she was present in spirit and watching over him.
“It is such a privilege and honor to be called by God and I do not have the words to give thanks to the Bishop for the opportunity to be a priest here in the Diocese of Venice.”
In this time of darkness, let us all join in congratulating and praying for Mark Harris upon his Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate April 15, 2020, at Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.
Deacon Harris, a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, was one of three to be ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Robert F. Hennessey of the Archdiocese of Boston. The ordination was rescheduled and moved to the seminary chapel due to the ongoing pandemic.
During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop.
Bishop Hennessey thanked the families, all watching online because of the pandemic restrictions, for giving the men to the Church. “You now have the right to recognize them as the one who came to serve”
To the candidates, the Bishop said, “We are watching you by the way you live your life and are recognizing you as a Disciple of Jesus Christ. Embrace the celibate life, the life of charity and the life to serve at the altar… It was the breadth of grace, an undeserved and unexpected gift, that brought you to this place and time and only you and God know the sacrifices made.”
As part of the ordination, Bishop Hennessey first placed his hands over their head and prayed. Then the men put on their stole and chasuble. Next, each came forward to kneel before the Bishop, at which time the Book of Gospels was placed in the hands of each candidate being ordained and the Bishop said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
During the Mass, Deacon Harris served as Deacon of the Altar, assisting with the preparation of the gifts.
Born in Miami, Deacon Harris spent part of his childhood alternating between living in Florida and Connecticut. He earned degrees in Commercial Art and then Business Marketing and Management from Florida Metropolitan University, before earning a Master’s in Education from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.
Now 53, Deacon Harris worked at various marketing and corporate jobs before becoming an elementary school teacher for Charlotte County School District. At Sacred Heart Parish in Punta Gorda he served as Eucharistic minister and catechist, helping with the Youth Peer Ministry, Faith Formation Program and Core Adult Ministry Team.
Now carrying the new title of Deacon, this last phase of his formation before being called to priesthood, Deacon Harris, can baptize, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services, distribute the Eucharist and preach the homily. Deacon Harris will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2021.
The presbyterate of the Diocese of Venice in Florida grew by one with the Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Carlos Encinas.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided over the ordination of Father Carlos in a Rite that was filled with long tradition and witnessed by hundreds Oct. 5 at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice.
The Bishop told Father Carlos that through ordination, he becomes forever “United to the Sacrifice of Christ.” That unity is also with the Bishop and the Universal Church led by Holy Father Pope Francis.
“You are called to be that Church as you go out and strive to minister to the people of God,” Bishop Dewane continued. “Be the example of the Good Shepherd and go out and find the lost sheep who have the strayed by being the Light of Christ to others who might be in darkness.”
To start the Rite of Ordination, Diocese of Venice Vocations Director Father Shawn Roser called Deacon Carlos forward as he presented himself for ordination to the Bishop. The Bishop, on behalf of the entire Church, accepted Carlos and called him to ordination as a Priest by saying: “Relying on the help of the Lord God and Our Savior Jesus Christ, we choose Carlos Encinas, our brother, for the Order of the Priesthood.”
During the Rite of Ordination, Encinas knelt before Bishop Dewane to express his desire and willingness to be ordained as a Priest and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with ordination, which included a promise of respect and obedience to the Bishop and his successors. Encinas then lay prostrate before the altar for the Litany of Supplication/Litany of Saints.
After this solemn act of prayer, the Sacrament of Ordination was conferred when Carlos again knelt before Bishop Dewane, whom in silent prayer, imposed his hands on the head the ordinand. Each priest then came forward to lay their hands upon the head of Father Encinas. This was followed by Bishop Dewane, with his hands outstretched, praying the Prayer of Ordination.
Father Carlos was then vested in stole and chasuble by Father Gerard Critch, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples where Encinas had recently served as Transitional Deacon. The hands of Father Carlos were than anointed with the Sacred Chrism by the Bishop, the sign of the special anointing of the Holy Spirit who will make their ministry fruitful.
Next, the Bishop presented Encinas with the chalice and paten which all priests are called to present to God in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rite of Ordination is concluded with the Bishop giving a fraternal kiss of peace to the newly ordained priest, welcoming him into the Diocesan Presbyterate or priesthood. Bishop Dewane introduced Father Carlos to all those present to enthusiastic applause, before all priests came forward to offer the sign of peace.
In addition to families and friends from Argentina, there were faithful from across the Diocese, many from the parishes where he previously had served. Included among those were also representatives of the Knights and Dames of the Order of Malta, and the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, as well as Diocesan seminarians who served during the Mass. Father Carlos was also pleased that a number of priests and fellow graduates from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, many of whom were ordained earlier in the year, were able to attend.
The Ordination was followed by a reception in the Cathedral Parish Hall where newly ordained Father Carlos Encinas was available to greet the public and impart his priestly blessing on them.
Venice – Transitional Deacon Carlos Encinas had only to complete his final exams in medical school when he realized his desire to become a priest was something he could no longer ignore.
He left his hometown in Argentina and went to New York City, ostensibly to visit a friend, but actually to seriously discern a vocation to the priesthood. “I needed to separate myself from medical school and home, a place I lived my entire life. I wanted to focus on this process with my whole heart.”
While in New York City, Deacon Encinas discerned with the Franciscan Friars, helping in a homeless shelter. While this experience helped him to realize he was on the right path, he did know that religious life was not a good fit because he wanted to be a parish priest. Thus, he began his formal studies toward the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New York at Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston. N.Y., where he graduated with a degree in philosophy.
It was just before his final year in college seminary when Deacon Encinas decided he wanted to serve in a Diocese which had distinct Hispanic populations, unlike New York City where the population is more diffuse. A friend suggested he look at the Diocese of Venice. A week-long visit, including a meeting with Bishop Frank J. Dewane, solidified his decision to join the Diocese as a seminarian upon graduation in 2014.
Throughout his entire discernment process, Deacon Encinas said God was always gentle in asking more of him, showing him signs that he is on the right path. “God never forces you to do something you don’t want to,” he added. “It was at Mass that I would see signs that led me to realize what God wanted from me.”
The recent graduate of St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach is now on the cusp of reaching his goal of becoming a priest. The Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Encinas will take place at 11 a.m., Oct. 5 at Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. Bishop Dewane will preside over the ordination.
Now 40, Deacon Encinas was born and raised in Corrientes, Argentina, and said he had a desire to become a priest off and on since he was 19-years-old. When he decided to enter seminary in the U.S., his parents, Alberto and Josefina Encinas, were skeptical, and his father was upset because he wanted his son to become a physician.
“As time passed, he appreciated more what I was doing and now everyone is very happy,” Deacon Encinas explained.
Because of the distance and cost, none of his family was able to attend his April 14, 2018, ordination to the transitional diaconate at St. Joan of Arc Parish Church, Boca Raton. The family did watch via a livestream on social media. He is pleased to know that in October, his parents, sisters, a niece and nephew and three cousins are all coming to the U.S. for the ordination.
While a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Encinas had several pastoral assignments including: St. Peter the Apostle Parish, Naples; St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton, and Our Lady of Grace, Avon Park.
The ordination of a transitional deacon to the priesthood is considered one of the pivotal moments in the life of a Diocese. It is one of the most beautiful and often unseen Sacraments in the Church. It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability.
While an ordination is the final step to priesthood, it is not the conclusion of priestly formation, it is just the beginning.
During ordination to the priesthood Deacon Encinas will freely presents himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. He will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience. The reward for that choice is to have his life filled with the message of God.
The journey to the priesthood for one seminarian began in Haiti and meandered throughout several countries. However, April 6 he was ordained a transitional deacon, one small step on his spiritual journey.
“This ordination for me is a moment of grace, a time of thanksgiving to God for his fidelity to me,” said Diocese of Venice Seminarian Franckel Fils-Aime, who was ordained by Bishop Frank J. Dewane at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton.
Bishop Dewane ordained a total of 15 seminarians of different seminarians from Florida arch/dioceses, most being from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach. The Church was filled with family members, friends, guests, seminary faculty and leaders, priests and brother seminarians, all a witness of great support for the candidates soon to be ordained to the diaconate and to the Church.
The Bishop noted the special reason for the Mass and went on to say: “We celebrate your presence here today… of who you are, and who you are becoming.”
During the homily, Bishop Dewane explained that the ministry is much more than taking on specific Church duties. “What you are called to do is to reflect the love of Jesus Christ,” he said. “You are called to demonstrate this love in many ways; this you do with the help of the Holy Spirit.”
The Bishop also encouraged the men to “sow hope and trust in the Lord. You will teach Holy Doctrine to others but must be men of God and examples of living a life of prayer, high moral values and faith. May God bless each one of you for this decision you have made in your life and for your blessedness going forward.”
During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop. Deacon Fils-Aime will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2020. As part of the ordination rite, the Bishop placed the Book of Gospels in the hands of each candidate being ordained and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
Deacon Fils Aime was joyful afterwards and reflected to the day so long ago when he told his parents about his vocation decision.
“They were praying that God would call one of their children to the priesthood, and even more happy because I am the oldest son,” Deacon Fils Aime. “They understand as the Bible says, the first fruit is for God. I thank my family here in United States and in Haiti for their prayers and support.”
Born in Cornillon (Potino), in west Haiti, Deacon Fils-Aime celebrated his 40th birthday one month ago. The son of Voguel Fils-Aime, residing in Haiti, and the late Philomène Remy, he is the oldest of nine. His father and two siblings were present for the ordination.
From a young age, the new deacon felt at home in the Church and first met Jesus through the Sacraments while witnessing the ministry of the priests who served as examples of Jesus Christ’s love and mercy. “I heard the voice of God calling me for His services.”
Deacon Fils-Aime began formation at age 26 with the Order of Friars Minor. He lived in community with the Franciscan Capuchins and continued to study and discern in the Dominican Republic and Brazil. It was in 2014 when he heard God calling, loudly and clearly, to become a diocesan priest. He subsequently joined the Diocese of Venice in 2015.
Now carrying the new title of Deacon, this last phase of his formation before being called to priesthood, Deacon Fils-Aime, can baptize, witness marriages, perform funerals and burial services, distribute the Eucharist and preach the homily.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane will ordain Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser to the priesthood at 11 a.m., July 14, Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice. Here Deacon Roser shares his journey to the Priesthood.
“From my earliest years, I have had the desire to serve others,” Roser explained. “In time, this grew into a yearning to share the love of Christ with them as well. The first time that I thought about the priesthood was in second grade, when I received my First Holy Communion. I remember thinking that it would be incredible to be able to offer Mass and bring Jesus’ presence to others. Time passed and the desire for priesthood mostly faded away, but the desire to serve others didn’t.”
Born in Lima, Ohio, he was raised Catholic and lived in Wapakoneta, Ohio, and then Fort Wayne, Ind., before moving to the Naples area at the start of high school. Although a 2002 graduate of St. John Neumann Catholic High School, Ave Maria is his adopted hometown, as his family moved there in 2009.
After high school, Roser attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, where he studied aerospace engineering and applied meteorology, with the intention of pursuing a career as a U.S. Air Force officer and astronaut. “It was then, during my college years and my involvement with Catholic campus ministry, that I experienced an awakening and renewing of my faith. When Pope John Paul II died, I remember being inspired to reconsider the priesthood.”
Now 35, Roser credits a number of priests and religious for aiding in his discernment for a vocation to the priesthood. Specifically, Father Tim Daly, then Chaplain of the Embry-Riddle Catholic Student Union, provided guidance and prayers through the years. It is for this reason that Father Daly will be vesting Roser at the ordination.
“After some time, in prayer and discernment, I obtained my discharge from the U.S. Air Force Reserves, and pursued the priestly vocation, first with the Glenmary Home Missioners, and finally with the Diocese of Venice,” he explained. “Although I spent time dating and discerning the vocation to marriage before entering seminary, again and again, I felt the gentle but persistent call of the Lord to the priesthood. In surrendering my will to Christ, I experienced great peace and clarity about my future path.”
While discerning with the Glanmary Home Missioners, Roser worked along with the poor and unchurched in Applachia and the rural South. “Later, I felt the Lord calling me back to Southwest Florida, where I delved back into studies and work. Eventually, the desire to serve God as a priest returned. I came to see that diocesan priests, in their work with those entrusted to them at the parish level, truly serve at the “front lines” of the struggle for holiness. I too, wished to take part in this spiritual warfare and tend to Christ’s flock. Thus, I applied to become a seminarian for the Diocese. “
Roser took initial theology classes at Ave Maria University, and then at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. As a Diocesan seminarian, he earned a B.A. in Philosophy from St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami, before being sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome. There he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology Degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and recently completed the one-year Spirituality Program at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. In very early July, he returned to the Diocese.
When asked why he decided to discern a vocation to the priesthood, Roser explained: “For me, the priesthood is the laying down of one’s life in service to others, so that by following in the footsteps of Jesus, we may together journey to our eternal home of heaven. To be responsible for the salvation of souls, is an incredibly daunting task, but it is also one that fills me with joy and enthusiasm. The more uncertain and confused the world becomes, the more clearly, I see that it is the Catholic Church and its teachings alone that stands solidly on the foundation given to it by Christ, through the Apostles. There is great comfort in that. I wish to do my small part in the great work of the New Evangelization.”
Family is very important to Roser; so he felt blessed to have had the support of his parents (Stephen and Mary Beth) and most of his family and friends. “I believe that my mother always thought that I’d become a priest. Those who initially were uncertain or opposed to the call have really come around. Interestingly, when I first announced my decision to enter seminary, often it seemed that I received more support from non-Catholics than Catholics. We must do more to promote a culture of vocations – it starts at home with the family!”
He admitted that the few weeks he has left to prepare for ordination are a bit surreal, knowing that his studies are finally done and nothing stands in his way to reach his goal. “What a wonderful privilege! Waiting to hear of my official priestly assignment and being assigned to the care of souls can seem a bit nerve-wracking, but I’m anxiously looking forward to parish ministry, celebrating the sacraments and serving parishioners!”
Once ordained, Roser said his greatest desire is to be a faithful parish priest who is a shepherd of souls and brings others to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Ordained a Transitional Deacon at the Altar of the Chair of St. Peter in the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican on Sept. 28, 2017, one of his first acts as a deacon was to serve as deacon at his mother’s funeral and the officiating at her interment. “It was a moving experience seeing the power of grace at work through the Church’s liturgy and sacramentals.”
While a seminarian for the Diocese, Roser had several pastoral assignments including: St. Andrew Parish, Cape Coral; Epiphany Cathedral, Venice; St. Leo the Great Parish, Bonita Springs; Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, Bradenton; and Incarnation Parish, Sarasota.
The ordination to the priesthood is considered one of the pivotal moments in the life of a Diocese. While an ordination is the final step to priesthood, it is not the conclusion of priestly formation, it is just the beginning.
“This is one of the most beautiful and often unseen Sacraments in the Church,” Bishop Dewane explained. “It is a public response to the Call to Holiness, which comes with great responsibility and accountability.”
During ordination to the priesthood the oridinand freely presents himself to serve God, the Church and the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice and his successors. They will also make a renewed commitment to celibacy and promise obedience. The reward for that choice is to have their life filled with the message of God.
What: Ordination to the Priesthood of Shawn Roser
When: Saturday, July 14, 11 a.m.
Where: Epiphany Cathedral, 350 Tampa Ave. W., Venice
By Whom: Presiding Prelate Bishop Frank J. Dewane
Other facts about Transitional Deacon Shawn Roser
Born: Lima, Ohio
Parents: Stephen and Mary Beth (deceased in 2017)
Interesting facts: 4th Degree Knight of Columbus; holds a private pilot’s license; First Lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol; previously served in the U.S. Air Force Reserves.
Fun: Flying, bicycling, running, hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, visiting national/state parks and historic sites, reading, woodworking, cooking, etc.
Relax: Going to the beach, fishing, swimming, reading, etc.
Diocese of Venice Seminarian Carlos Encinas feels blessed and at peace following his Ordination to the Transitional Diaconate on April 14 at St. Joan of Arc Parish Church, Boca Raton.
Transitional Deacon Encinas said a few days later that “the peace and happiness that I experienced that day are still with me. Praise God! The role of a Deacon is to assist the Priest ministering some of the sacraments to the people of God. I’m really excited that I will be able to do that.”
Celebrated by Bishop Felipe de Jesús Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine, the ordination of 13 men at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, is one of the final steps toward priesthood.
While his family was unable to attend from Argentina, they were able to watch a live feed on Facebook. Present in support of Encinas were a number of friends as well as Fathers Tomasz Zalewski and Lawton Lang of St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton, where Encinas served a pastoral year. In a show of support, Transitional Deacon Encinas served as the deacon at the April 15 Masses at St. Joseph Parish.
Deacon Encinas, 39, is from Corrientes, Argentina, and was working toward a medical degree when he discerned his vocation to the priesthood.
During the ordination, the new deacons promised to live a life of prayer, celibacy and obedience to their Diocesan Bishop. Deacon Encinas will have an additional year of theological studies and spiritual formation before petitioning for Ordination to the Priesthood in 2019. As part of the ordination rite, the Bishop placed the Book of Gospels in the hands of each candidate being ordained and said: “Receive the Gospels of Christ, whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.”
In his homily, Bishop Estévez noted the wisdom of the Church that those seeking ordination to the priesthood first become deacons. “This is so that each one of them understands that as Jesus taught the Apostles by the washing of the feet at the Last Supper, that they ought to do the same as the Lord. That is to minister in the manner as servants.”
Bishop Estévez added that deacons are not simply servants, but they are called to be an encounter with the Living Word for others as they have been blessed be a personal intimate relationship with the Lord.