Two men to be ordained permanent deacons for the Archdiocese of Detroit

Ahead of their Oct. 7 ordination to the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Detroit, Caesar E. Cruz, left, and David E. Smith shared about their family background, what drew them to hear the Lord's calling to ministry, and how they expect to serve the faithful as deacons in the Catholic Church. (Courtesy photos)

David E. Smith of Clarkston and Ceasar E. Cruz of Canton to be ordained Oct. 7 at Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament

DETROIT — Two men with a heart for service and a soul in love with Jesus Christ will be ordained to the permanent ministry of the diaconate Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron will ordain David E. Smith of Clarkston and Ceasar E. Cruz of Canton during a 10 a.m. Mass in front of friends, family and faithful of the Archdiocese of Detroit. The two men have spent years in formation at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, and will be ordained after spending years raising families and working in secular careers.

Their parish assignments will be announced after the ordination Mass.

The two men, both 57, shared a little bit about themselves in a survey shared with Detroit Catholic ahead of the ordinations.

David E. Smith

David E. Smith, 57, of Clarkston, is a member of Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford. Smith and his wife, Shari, are parents of two children: Noah, 27, and the late Hanna.

Smith was born in Flint, where he attended Flint Christian High School before graduating from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in administration (2009) and a master’s in management (2017). Smith, who has been working in industrial sales and manufacturing, will finish his master’s in pastoral studies at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 2024.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Smith shared that his family’s journey to Catholicism ultimately led him to consider the diaconate as a second vocation in life.

“I reached a point of unhappiness with my life, the person I had become, and many of my decisions. I turned back to God, whom I forgot over most of my adult life, and asked for His help to become the person He wanted me to be which is still a work in progress,” Smith shared.

After becoming re-energized in his faith, Smith and his family began to study the early Church fathers, whose steadfast affirmation of the Catholic faith ultimately led them to join RCIA about 10 years ago.

“A few months after being received into the Church, I spoke with a permanent deacon after Mass, and after learning of their ministry I experienced what can only be described as an invitation that persisted over five years,” Smith said. “I followed through in 2017 by submitting my application to the Church and entering the seminary. My entire path to the diaconate has been one of a series of doors opening and saying yes to giving Christ whatever He wanted from me.”

A member of Knights of Columbus Council 5436 and a self-professed reading and home theater enthusiast, Smith completed his diaconate internship at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Lake Orion under the tutelage of Deacon John Manera and Fr. Jim Kean. During his internship, he served at Ascension Hospital in Rochester. Before his internship, Smith had been active in various parishes, including serving on parish pastoral councils, volunteering with youth catechism classes, hospice ministry, memory care ministry and ministry to the elderly, as well as serving in jail ministry.

“In many of the people I’ve been privileged to encounter in various ministries, there seems to be a crisis of loneliness with a profound hunger to know they’re loved,” Smith said. “Time and time again the reactions I saw to the message of God’s love were astounding.”

“My hope as a permanent deacon is, with God’s help, to serve my pastor and God’s people to the best of my ability,” Smith continued. “And to spend my life bringing God’s message of love in words and actions to as many people as possible.”

Ceasar E. Cruz

Ceasar Enriquez Cruz, 57, was born in Taytay, Rizal, in the Philippines, and currently lives in Canton. He and his wife, Anna Marie, are members of Divine Child Parish in Dearborn. They are the parents of Lance, 32 (married to Katie), Adrienne, 27 (married to Cory Passman), and Anne, 22.

Cruz attended Siena College of Taytay in the Philippines, as well as Emilio Aguinaldo College, earning a bachelor’s in physical therapy in 1983. He later earned a master’s degree in early childhood education in 2005 from Oakland University, and works as a physical therapist in the Department of Special Education for the Taylor School District. He will complete his master's in pastoral studies from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in 2024.

Cruz said his journey to the diaconate began more than 30 years ago, when he and his wife — who were Catholics — joined a non-denominational Bible study group.

“Many times, I found myself frustrated and unable to articulate the answer to those who asked, as to why we believe what we believe and do what we do as Catholics,” Cruz said. “I am thankful that I discovered Catholic radio and television programs. As a result, I started to learn more about what we believe and why. I also began to have a much deeper appreciation of the richness and depth of our Catholic faith.”

As he learned more, Cruz became deeply involved in his parish community at the time, St. Theodore of Canterbury in Westland, becoming especially drawn to the Eucharist, which caused him to be “full of energy and excitement.”

“I wanted to share what I had discovered,” Cruz said. “So, I volunteered to teach catechism. I became involved in the RCIA team. I joined the choir. My wife and I joined a Catholic Bible study group. I became active in different Filipino prayer groups and religious communities. I attended weekend Catholic conferences and seminars. I also enrolled in Catholic Biblical School of Michigan.”

It was a lot — and while Cruz and his wife enjoyed all of the activities, something was still missing.

“It felt like I was trying to reach for something, but I did not know what it was. That was the time that I asked God and myself, ‘Why am I doing all these?” Cruz said. “Shortly after, I seriously entertained the thought of becoming a deacon. At first, I was not sure if my interest in the diaconate was a sign of God’s calling.”

When a priest friend confirmed his intuition by suggesting he would be a good fit for the diaconate, Cruz looked into the program, and applied to the Archdiocese of Detroit to begin formation “after much prayer and waiting.”

Cruz completed his parish internship at St. John Neumann Parish in Canton under the guidance of Deacon Pat Conlen and Fr. Paul Ballien, volunteering at the Pope Francis Center and St. Aloysius Neighborhood Services in Detroit, as well as the Missionaries of Charity, teaching the faith to Hispanic children in the inner city.

A member of Knights of Columbus Council 2660, as well as various Filipino religious communities, Cruz said his vocation to the diaconate comes not at his own initiative, but God’s.

“A person does not necessarily become a deacon because he wants to, but rather it is primarily because God called him. No one deserves to be a deacon. It is a privilege from God,” Cruz said. “Deacons are called to serve the Church — the people of God. Whatever authority a deacon has, its purpose is so that he can fulfill his service for the good of the Church.

“A deacon brings the love of Christ to the people he serves,” Cruz continued. “The reverse is also true. He brings the people to the love of Christ. A deacon must first himself encounter and know Christ in order to bring Christ to others.”


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