May 10, 2024

‘He wants to win hearts, minds and souls for the Lord’

By John Shaughnessy

The heart of a person is often revealed in everyday moments, especially in moments where the choice is to approach them with either stress or joy.

In their friendship of six years, transitional Deacon Matt Millay has often witnessed telling moments concerning Deacon Anthony Armbruster, who will be ordained a priest for the archdiocese on June 1 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (Related story: A question at the heart of life shows the influences that have shaped a future priest)

“I recall many occasions where Deacon Anthony answered the call to service. For example, when he was the kitchen manager of the Unstable, I recall how he, another seminarian and I would cook on Monday evenings,” says Deacon Millay about the campus pub at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

“At times, those evenings were some of the most demanding nights of the week in that kitchen. No matter, he always approached work with a contagious enthusiasm. He helped me realize that the work we were doing was not just about making good pizza, but all the more, it was about serving the wider seminary community.”

Father Sean Danda, the pastor of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg, saw that same quality in Deacon Armbruster when he returned to help with the parish festival.

“St. Malachy is known for its Country Fair, which was started by his mom’s family back in the late 1970s,” Father Danda says. “Each year, while Deacon Anthony was in seminary, he would come back from Saint Meinrad with two or three seminarian friends and work in his family’s pork nacho tent at the fair. Deacon Anthony loved sharing this St. Malachy tradition with his friends.”

That emphasis on joy in service will be one of the main qualities that Deacon Armbruster brings to his approach to people in the archdiocese, say the people who know him well.

“He cares deeply about others,” says Deacon Millay, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Louisville who will be ordained in that Kentucky city on June 1. “I believe that as a priest, Deacon Anthony will bring a lively sense of Christ’s compassion and joy to the people of God.”

“He wants to win hearts, minds and souls for the Lord in a world that has largely forgotten about love of God,” Father Danda says.

As a mentor and friend during their shared time at Saint Meinrad, Father Devereaux King of the Archidocese of Nassau in the Bahamas delights in sharing the range of Deacon Armbruster’s qualities—from “a profound devotion to our Blessed Mother” to his “impeccable skills of Christmas decorating.”

“I have never met anyone who can take a bare and tasteless space and turn it into Santa’s-Never-Ending-Christmas-Shop,” Father Devereaux says.

Mostly, the priest has witnessed his friend’s growth in significant ways during his time in seminary.

“One of the most memorable stories I have of Deacon Anthony was when he invited a group of mutual friends to a social we had at the seminary. He made those friends of ours feel like our main guests of honor. Anthony was never much of a social person, and most times he preferred to be by himself. But when I observed what he did that evening, I said to myself, ‘This friend of mine has finally found himself and, most importantly, he has found himself in Christ Jesus.’ ”

Describing his friend as having “the heart of a shepherd,” Father Devereaux adds, “The parish that receives this young man as their parochial vicar will be beyond blessed. He will lead those people with great confidence and open their eyes to the beauty of what God can do with a person who has grown tremendously in his Son, Jesus Christ.” †

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