LEXINGTON — On Saturday, May 26, Tim Tebalt, a native of Florence, moved closer to his ultimate goal, the priesthood, by his being ordained to the transitional diaconate at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington, where he will carry out his first assignment as deacon.
“Relish and enjoy this special time of diaconal service the church calls you to in your pilgrimage to the priesthood,” said Bishop Robert J. Baker.
“Embrace this great opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to draw you into holiness of life, enabling you to minister to your people with the wisdom that is born of the Spirit, and with a heart aflame with a mature, chaste, Christian love.”
Friends and family gathered to witness this important milestone for Deacon Tebalt. Everyone left with a greater understanding of the role of a deacon that was summed up in the words, “He will make himself a servant to all.”
Just as with a permanent deacon, Deacon Tebalt will be able to preside over public prayer services, baptize, witness and bless marriages, administer viaticum to the dying and lead burial rites. Because of his calling to the priesthood and in addition to a promise of obedience, he made a commitment to celibacy something unmarried permanent deacons do as well.
“By living in this state with total dedication, moved by a sincere love for Christ the Lord, you are consecrated to him in a new and special way. By this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will move freely at the service of God and mankind,” read the bishop.
A memorable moment for Will Thompson, a young cousin of Tebalt, was during the singing of the Litany of the Saints, when Tim lay prostrate before the altar.
“It was interesting and kind of mysterious,” recalled the young Episcopalian who had never witnessed an ordination before this one.
Other significant components of the rite included laying on of hands by the bishop and the prayer of consecration.
Tim’s brother, David Tebalt, thought the ordination was a “beautiful” service even though as a Baptist, he did not fully understand everything that took place.
Their cousin, Susan Garcia a convert to the Catholic Church followed the service a little more closely, participating as a reader for the Ordination Mass.
“It was so lovely,” said Garcia, parishioner of St. Ann Church in Marietta, Ga.
Sister Beth Fitzpatrick, O.Carm, one of Tebalt’s professors at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, was glad that she was able to attend the ordination of one of her favorite students.
“Tim has a depth to understand the Gospel and great compassion for others especially those on the margins,” said Fitzpatrick, who describes Tebalt as a “great missionary” who currently is one of the senior members of the missionary leadership team at the seminary.
Deacon comes from the Greek word diaconia that means “to serve.”
As a member of the order of deacons, new opportunities of service will be open for Tebalt along with the graces to embrace each task with love.
“The ordination was exceptionally and personally moving for me. It has been a long journey, four years, to finally get to a point to serve God’s people in a new way as an ordained minister,” said Deacon Tebalt.