October 19, 2012

Appeal supports retired priests, future priests and deacons

Deacon candidate Russell Woodard ritually places his hands in the hands of Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, during a June 23 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. During the Mass, Woodard and 15 other men were ordained as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Deacon candidate Russell Woodard ritually places his hands in the hands of Bishop Christopher J. Coyne, apostolic administrator, during a June 23 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. During the Mass, Woodard and 15 other men were ordained as permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

Father William Ernst retired from full-time parish ministry four years ago after serving in faith communities across central and southern Indiana for 44 years since his ordination to the priesthood in 1964.

Despite being retired, he still finds himself on nearly every weekend celebrating Masses at archdiocesan parishes—and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“I really enjoy it,” said Father Ernst. “I especially enjoy it when I’m at a parish for a period of time and I begin to develop a little sense of community. … You get to know some people and kind of feel a sense of community with them. That’s kind of nice.”

He’s not the only one who finds joy helping out at parishes. The parishioners like it, too.

“You can’t imagine how people have said ‘Thank you’ after Mass,” said Father Ernst. “They go out of their way to make you feel at home. It’s really a very satisfying experience.”

Many of those Catholics across central and southern Indiana also show their appreciation for the continued ministry of retired priests by participating in “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope.”

Contributions to the annual appeal provide support for retired priests, and for the formation of future priests and candidates for the permanent diaconate.

Father Ernst especially appreciates the health insurance that he receives from the archdiocese that is supported by the “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope.”

“We have excellent health care,” he said. “I’ve had cataract surgery and a knee replaced. It’s the security you feel, knowing that if something does come up, it will be taken care of.”

The appeal gives assurance in a different way to seminarian Daniel Bedel, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Enochsburg.

In order to prepare himself completely for a future life and ministry as a priest, he cannot take time out to work to pay for the formation that he receives at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad.

“There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for me to dutifully train for priesthood and maintain even a part-time job to help pay for the growing expense of my education,” said Bedel. “The only way I am able to truly give my life to my vocation is through the generous support of the people in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.”

Bedel expects to be ordained as a transitional deacon next spring. He is looking forward to beginning ordained ministry among the Catholics of central and southern Indiana.

“I cannot begin to explain how excited I am,” he said. “In fact, I already have a wedding scheduled on the May calendar. And I am particularly looking forward to proclaiming the Gospel for the first time and preaching my first homily.

“As I told some of the priests here at Saint Meinrad, I want to spend this school year really reflecting on the image of a servant in my prayers. And with the continued grace from all who are praying for me, I know God will give me the strength and humility to be a good and faithful servant in my ordained ministry.”

Deacon Russell Woodard and 15 other men were ordained on June 23 to serve the faithful in the archdiocese as permanent deacons.

He currently ministers as parish life coordinator of St. Anne Parish in New Castle and St. Rose of Lima Parish in Knightstown, and at the New Castle Correctional Facility.

Deacon Woodward was prepared for this ministry by participating in the archdiocese’s four-year deacon formation program, which has four spheres of formation: human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual.

Deacon Woodard said that many “seeds of faith” were planted in him through this multifaceted formation program. 

“Since formation took place over the course of four years, each of these seeds of faith had plenty of time to germinate and grow,” he said. “Each of us—deacon candidates and wives—came to the realization that none of our lives would be the same after ordination.”

The formation that he and the other deacons in his class received over the past four years was supported by “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope” contributions made by Catholics across the archdiocese.

“I am particularly grateful to all those who supported me and those of my deacon formation class through their contributions to the United Catholic Appeal,” said Deacon Woodard. “My hope is now that we are ordained these benefactors will themselves benefit from our ministry, and that they will be rewarded for investing their ‘talents’ and returning them to the Lord with increase.”
 

(For more information about “United Catholic Appeal: Christ Our Hope,” log on to www.archindy.org/uca.)

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