Two seminarians ordained to Transitional Diaconate

Jacob (Jake) Christian Gwynn and William Patrick (Pat) Long were ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on Saturday, April 13, 2024. The pair followed different calls of the Lord in their lives, but their answers were the same, leading the two Diocese of Venice seminarians on a journey toward the priesthood.

Deacons Gwynn and Long were among 10 ordained at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton by Most Rev. Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of the Diocese of Palm Beach. The men, from different Dioceses across Florida, are studying at either St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach or Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts.

Following his ordination, Deacon Gwynn said, “The theme that was said many times on my day of ordination continues to resound in my heart today: ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad’ (Ps 118:24). I am eternally grateful for the call to serve the Lord and His people through the ministry of the Diaconate and eventually as a priest!”

Deacon Long said the ordination brought “tremendous peace, joy and gratitude; gratitude to God for His great love, and for the opportunity to share that love with many as a newly ordained Deacon in His Church.”
The first of three ranks of ordained ministry in the Church, Deacons perform many services to the Church in conjunction with the ministries of priests and Bishops. Among their many duties, they will preach, perform baptisms, witness marriages, and preside over wakes and funerals.

Bishop Barbarito opened by giving thanks to the Lord for calling the ordinandi to the ministry of Holy Orders in service to all, and then by giving thanks to each of the men and their supporters.

“We also give thanks to each of them for discerning and accepting the call of the Lord, as well as to all of you, their family members and friends in supporting them in their discernment,” the Bishop said.

To the men, Bishop Barbarito stressed the importance of the day, after years of prayer and preparation.

“Holy Orders is the ordering of our lives toward Christ… Today, you will make three significant promises to Him and to His Church which will intimately affect your lives – a lifelong commitment of celibacy; to prayer; and to the service of Church as expressed in obedience. All of them become one in handing yourselves over to the Lord completely and totally.”

Following the homily, the men approached Bishop Barbarito one-by-one, knelt and promised respect and obedience, each to his own Bishop and his successors. To signify humble submission before God, the men then lay prostrate in the sanctuary while the assembly sang the Litany of Saints. The faithful remained standing during the Litany as the ordination took place during the Easter Season.

Each man again approached the Bishop who imposed his hands on the candidate and proclaimed a prayer of consecration, to confer the Holy Spirit to guide their ministries. This is the moment the men were ordained. The Deacons then 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.

Next, the newly ordained Deacons knelt before the Bishop who presented them each with the Book of the Gospels, 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.” The receiving of the Book of Gospels is a symbol of their new ministry of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching. The Rite of Ordination concluded with the fraternal kiss of peace.

Deacon Gwynn is studying at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary, having graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami in 2020. Born and raised in Palmetto, Deacon Jake is the third of four children. Deacon Jake recalls that becoming a priest was one of his earliest aspirations. One of his mentors from a young age was Msgr. Joseph Ferraro, a retired priest who also served as a U.S. Navy Chaplain, who inspired him to pursue a path to not only the priesthood but also in the Navy Chaplaincy. Following that inspiration, he was sworn in as an officer of the U.S. Navy in 2021 and is currently a Lt. (j.g), in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

As a Diocesan seminarian, Deacon Gwynn has had summer assignments at the following Parishes: St. William in Naples, St. Agnes in Naples; Our Lady of Lourdes in Venice; and Our Lady of Grace in Avon Park. He served a pastoral year at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice. In addition, he has taken part in the Navy Officer Development School and later the Navy Chaplain Basic Leadership School, both in Newport, Rhode Island. Deacon Gwynn is pursuing his priesthood for the Diocese of Venice and the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. Deacon Gwynn was vested by Deaon Craig Dutka of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto.

Deacon Long has been studying at St. John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts which specializes in formation for later vocations. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, but raised in Sarasota, the second of six children, Deacon Pat is a graduate of St. Martha Catholic School and Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota. He graduated with a degree from Florida State. While pursuing a marketing career in the health care industry, he kept ties to the faith as an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, religious education teacher, youth group leader and in Pro-Life work. Feeling God was calling him to the priesthood, with the help of a spiritual director he opted to enter seminary. As a seminarian for the Diocese of Venice, Deacon Long served at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, St. Martha Parish in Sarasota, attended the Institute for Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Nebraska, and participated in the Spanish Summer Immersion Program in Guatemala. During his ordination, Deacon Long was vested by Deacon Stephen Beck of Incarnation Parish.

Please pray for these men as they continue their spiritual journey.