'Icons of Christ the servant:' Archbishop ordains two new permanent deacons

David E. Smith, left, of Clarkston and Ceasar E. Cruz, right, of Canton were ordained by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to the permanent diaconate on Saturday, Oct. 7, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The men were surrounded by their brother deacons, family, friends and their wives, Shari Smith, far left, and Amy Cruz, far right. (Photos by Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Deacons Smith, Cruz are called to serve through 'the outpouring of one's self' in imitation of the redeemer, archbishop says

DETROIT After years of discernment and formation, two men were ordained to the permanent ministry of the diaconate on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron ordained Deacons David E. Smith of Clarkston and Ceasar E. Cruz of Canton in a church full of their brother deacons, clergy and family members. At the end of the ordination Mass, the archbishop announced their appointments: Deacon Smith will serve at Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford, and Deacon Cruz will serve at St. Thomas a’Becket Parish in Canton.

In his homily, Archbishop Vigneron reminded the faithful that the diaconate was established by the apostles themselves under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.

“What we do today is not in imitation of what we heard about in the Acts reading; it is the same thing,” the archbishop explained. “The Church here in southeast Michigan lives the very same life as the original Church in Jerusalem. We are an organic continuation of that Church life, and for that, we certainly give God praises and thanks.”

Through their ordination, Deacons Smith and Cruz become servants within the Church, a role that Christ dedicated them to long before this day, Archbishop Vigneron said.

“(This is) a very intimate kind of consecration. You heard God say in the reading, ‘Before you were born, I consecrated you, I dedicated you, I destined you.’ Before you were born, when God only was thinking about your existence, He had in mind this day,” the archbishop said.

As deacons, Deacons Smith and Cruz will have the opportunity to pour out their whole selves for the service of Christ and his Church, Archbishop Vigneron said. Service is not just about making things happen, accumulating good results or making the community better, although it ultimately does all of these things, he added.

“Service is not about stuff. Service in the Church, as our Lord has redefined it, is always about the outpouring of one’s self,” Archbishop Vigneron explained. “This is the most important measure of authentic Christian service. Christ is the measure insofar as he poured out his life’s blood for those to whom he was given to serve for their salvation. And so it makes sense that the first of the martyrs in the Jerusalem church was a deacon who poured out his blood by being stoned to death in witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Through their ordination, Archbishop Vigneron said Deacons Smith and Cruz become servants within the Church, a role to which Christ dedicated them long before they were born.
Through their ordination, Archbishop Vigneron said Deacons Smith and Cruz become servants within the Church, a role to which Christ dedicated them long before they were born.

Through ordination, Deacons Smith and Cruz are transformed and become icons of service, the archbishop said. Because of this outpouring of self, the deacons’ role as minister of the chalice during the Mass is particularly poignant, he said.

“It is within the chalice by the descent of the Holy Spirit that wine becomes the love of Jesus Christ poured out,” Archbishop Vigneron explained. “And so, rightly do deacons, who are icons of Christ the servant, handle the chalice and be the ministers of the chalice within the Christian assembly.”

In a thanksgiving address given on behalf of himself and Deacon Smith at the end of Mass, Deacon Cruz thanked all those present and particularly thanked Our Lady.

“It is certainly by God’s grace, by His loving kindness and by His mercy, that the two of us are here with you today,” Deacon Cruz said. “We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to Our Lady, the Blessed Mother who continues to accompany us in our journey. We believe it is not a coincidence that our ordination falls on the day that we also celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.

“Today is a great day for the Church and for the archdiocese not because of who was ordained, but simply because ordination took place, which is a reminder for us that Jesus, who promised that he will be with us until the end of time, is really truly with us and continues to do his work through the ministry of his Church,” Deacon Cruz added.

Deacon Cruz delivered a thanksgiving address on behalf of himself and Deacon Smith at the end of Mass. Deacon Cruz has been appointed to serve at St. Thomas a'Becket Parish in Canton, and Deacon Smith will serve at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Waterford.
Deacon Cruz delivered a thanksgiving address on behalf of himself and Deacon Smith at the end of Mass. Deacon Cruz has been appointed to serve at St. Thomas a'Becket Parish in Canton, and Deacon Smith will serve at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Waterford.

For Amy Cruz, the wife of Deacon Cruz, the ordination was an affirmation of God’s will for their family's life and an answer to her prayers, namely her daily rosary for her husband and three children.

“Ceasar, in high school, was thinking about going to the seminary, and myself growing up, I was thinking of being a nun,” Amy Cruz told Detroit Catholic. “Then, by some divine plan, we met, and our lives went a different way; we got married and had children.”

While they were called away from serving Christ through priesthood and religious life, Amy Cruz says the Lord has revealed His plan in a different way, all these years later.

“This is another way to serve, not as individuals serving as a priest and a nun, but together being a diaconate family,” Amy Cruz said, adding she is discerning what her ministry will be as a deacon's wife, and plans to turn to other wives of deacons for guidance.

Shari Smith, the wife of Deacon Smith, said she was deeply moved when the archbishop laid his hands on her husband during the rite of ordination. She added that the diaconate community has been an indispensable support to them during the formation process.

"I will miss our dear friends we have met in formation and the formation team," Smith wrote in an email to Detroit Catholic. "They have truly become family to both David and me."



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