are doing this?
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.
I thought you were already an ordained minister, why are you
being ordained again?
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
A. Yes. Lord willing, I will
be a Catholic Priest.
Q. Why did you become Catholic?
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
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
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 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
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
Q. How can we support you in your ministry?
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.
more information about St. Thomas More Old Catholic Mission
please visit http://www.SaintThomasMoreChurch.com.