Ordination Q & A (from 2005 - updates in progress)

Q. Why are doing this?

A. I am doing this because I have a burning desire in my heart to help people. God has warmed my heart with a divine calling. I am simply working, learning, discerning how and what to do. I want to be an instrument of peace. I want to be a humble messenger of good news. I want to be a clean glass pane that the light of the Lord can shine through to give light and warmth in a cold and godless world.

Q. I thought you were already an ordained minister, why are you being ordained again?

A. I was licensed and ordained as a minister of the Gospel back in 1984. However, my journey of faith has brought me to this place of being ordained as a transitional deacon with the Old Catholics. The Old Catholic Church of North America maintains and holds valid Apostolic Succession and administers valid Sacraments.


Q. What is a transitional deacon?

A. A transitional deacon is the last order before ordination to the priesthood.


Q. Don't you have to go to school before becoming a priest?

A. I am currently enrolled as a seminarian at St. Michael's Seminary in Tampa, Florida. I am scheduled to receive a Master's in Divinity next year. I have graduated from Rhema Bible Training Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida.

Q. So you will be a Catholic Priest?

A. Yes. Lord willing, I will be a Catholic Priest.


Q. Why did you become Catholic?

A. Good question. Simply put, I became Catholic because this is where my journey of faith has brought me. The more I studied the History of the Church, I discovered a rich, vibrant, living faith of saints and martyrs descending from the ministry of the Apostles and the Early Church. (In the past I had only heard of the sins and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. I never studied the Orthodox Church.) I had so many misconceptions. But it was my heart's desire regarding Holy Communion that really drew me towards a Sacramental Church. I believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Wine and the Bread are more than just symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ.


Q. You mention a 'journey of faith.' What do you mean by this term?

A. My 'journey of faith' consists of my growth, development, experiences and encounters with God and with people. Many people tend to think religion is a 'private' matter and should be kept to themselves and to God. However, we live in a community of faith and we are called to share our faith with one another. St. Francis said that we should preach the gospel and, if necessary, we should use words. I like that. As I continue on this journey I realize more and more that it is through unselfish actions, guided by the Holy Spirit, with a humble heart that truly witness the message of Christ.


Q. You have had the opportunity to minister in many circles, haven't you?

A. Hopefully, I've been a positive influence and blessing to others. Unfortunately, I am aware of my shortcomings and failings. I am definitely a candidate for God's mercy and grace. I'm thinking of the people I know I've hurt and have let down. I can only ask them and God to forgive me for my stupidity and stubbornness. I desire to live a life of penance and humility and make restitution as God directs.


Q. Where have you ministered in the past?

A. I think I've been in some type of ministry all of my life - even in the detours I've traveled. When I was young, I was involved at Crystal Lake Baptist Church in Lakeland. I played the organ and piano. Sometimes I directed the singing. I remember preaching there, too. While in middle school, I experienced the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon me. (I used to think I could really describe what happened to me, but now I'm content in simply acknowledging that God became very real to me.) I became active with First Assembly of God youth department and made many wonderful friends. Some of my activities included everything from 'street preaching', visiting nursing homes, Bible studies and prayer meetings, youth camps and retreats, seminars. I was pretty bold in those days. I started a prayer meeting at Lakeland High School and even organized a prayer meeting around the flag pole during lunch break. People would call me 'Preach' and 'Rev' back then. I was even 'stoned' - as in one day some kids were throwing rocks at me. During college, I was involved with Eastman Curtis and John Jacobs in hosting the College and Career Class. I also taught a class on Intercessory Prayer. During my last year at Florida Southern, I traveled to Kissimmee to work at Abundant Life Christian Center. I served there in the music, youth and administrative ministry. After that, I was a Chaplain at Carrollwood Community Hospital in Tampa, FL. I promoted Jesus'88 Festival, participated in a few crusades, supported a few church plants by assisting with the worship program in various capacities.


Q. Didn't you backslide, fall away or run from God?

A. Do you mean like Jonah who tried to run from God's calling? Well, I wasn't exactly thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish... come to think of it, maybe I was (figuratively speaking). Being involved in 'ministry' I was aware of all of it - the good, the bad, and the ugly. And quite frankly, it made me sick! I would go to church meetings and leave vexed and depressed because of the petty bickering, back-biting, political power-struggles, nepotism, greed, control, etc. and etc. and etc. Looking back at it now, I probably could have spent more time in prayer seeking God's direction. But I was so burnt out on 'church' I just quit. It was just me and the Lord - and besides, I justified my position well because I had my own time of personal worship. But I became isolated. The last thing I wanted was to be around religious people - I wanted REAL people. Unfortunately, the people I met were real alright, but not real godly. It reminds me of Lot living close to Sodom and Gomorra. I still kept the faith, but came to realize that I was more like the prodigal son. I had lived lavishly but ended up in a pig's sty. (A disclaimer: Some of my exploits have been grossly exaggerated - not all, but some.)


Q. What happened?

A. In December 2002, I looked around at my life. Although I had good intentions, I sure had made a mess of things. As a good friend of mine has said, "Our best decisions put us right where we are!" I figured it was time for a little help from God, so I started praying every morning. I would pray something like this: "God, I seek you first today. I humble myself before you and submit my will to your will. Not my will, but yours be done. I need your help today. Now, with that being said, I resist the devil and he must flee from me." That was my habit. But most of the time I didn't 'feel' God there with me at all. This was just pure dumb faith. Oh, and I had some big sins to overcome, too. Sins like pride, unbelief, fear and bitterness. The first was the sin of fear. I was afraid that if I gave my life to God, that he would make me like the religious zealot I was in the past - and I had come to loathe the haughty judgmental stereotype - the spiritual know-it-all's. I was in unbelief because I didn't believe that God was powerful enough to keep me from returning to my prior religious and spiritual surroundings. I was full of pride, too. I wondered why other people could be so successful without a deep relationship with God, but I couldn't. I wanted to show God that I was a 'big-boy' and could do things on my own. And I was bitter - with a capital 'B'. Bitter at my ministerial 'friends' who had 'failed' me. You asked me, 'What happened?' God answered (and is still answering) my prayers. Wade's World came to a close - crashing down around me - literally. Jesus said that unless a seed falls into the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit.


Q. What do you mean, your world came to a close?

A. Everything was gone - my house, my money, my friends, my family, my business. I was in the middle of a hurricane looking for shelter from the storm. Thank God for my parents, a few friends, and a few ministers. I don't think they really knew what was happening to me - and from all sides - but they prayed for me. They loved me. Since everything was basically gone anyway, I decided to give what was left of me and my possessions to God. One friend told me that I reminded him of St. Francis. So I started studying about the Franciscans.


Q. So you're a Franciscan?

A. I'm a Franciscan in my heart. I'm not St. Francis, nor do I have the same calling as St. Francis. I have the desire to live in peace with God and depend on God to provide for my needs and the needs of my family. However, I can imagine a true Franciscan community here in Lakeland. Wouldn't that be interesting? A community of people not seeking their own gain, but working together preaching the Kingdom of God by their actions of charity through Christ? Perhaps in some ways I consider myself a 'Franciscan missionary on assignment.'


Q. So where are you now?

A. I'm on my journey. It's kinda funny. I didn't want to return to the same type of organized church. So God has put a desire in my heart to learn about the Early Church and their beliefs, Apostolic Succession, and Sacred Tradition. I started to spiritually experience the beauty of the Liturgy and the mystery of the Sacraments. I am learning to interpret the Bible in the context of the Early Church - not my own 'private interpretation.' Now, it's OK for me to say, 'I don't know,' and not feel bad about it. I'm learning that the ways of the Spirit are not so much 'either / or' but 'and / with'. My journey has led me to the Old Catholics, who hold and maintain Apostolic Succession and administer valid sacraments. Old Catholics are Western in their rites, but Eastern Orthodox in their doctrine.


Q. Where will you be tomorrow?

A. Besides working to simplify my life, be a loving and responsible parent and daily follow God - who knows? Never in my life would I have thought I'd be working towards the priesthood. I've discerned that on this journey of faith, I don't get the luxury of a AAA Highway map. Maybe some people do. I don't. I get the opportunity to trust God and rely on Him - which is totally contrary to my comfort zone. But come to think of it, every time I have followed His divine leading, he has confirmed His Word with signs following.


Q. How can we support you in your ministry?

A. I appreciate your prayers. Obviously, the devil would want me to be ineffective. Your prayers to God for my protection, health and finances are very important. Please pray for my family. If you want to learn more about our service to Christ and others, as a patron, fellow disciple, student, co-worker - whatever - please contact me directly.

 

For more information about St. Thomas More Old Catholic Mission please visit http://www.SaintThomasMoreChurch.com.


 

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