By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
MOBILE — The Archdiocese of Mobile is searching for Hispanic men interested in possibly becoming deacons.
The archdiocese is organizing its first Hispanic Diaconate Formation Program and Archdiocese of Mobile Deacon Ronnie Hathorne, director of the Archdiocese of Mobile Permanent Diaconate, said he’s “so excited and at the edge of my seat.” Deacon Hathorne, Director of Hispanic Ministry Deacon Hector Donastorg and Deacon Charles Eick will travel the archdiocese this summer to recruit Hispanic men interested in becoming deacons.
Hispanic men interested are also urged to contact their parish pastor.
The Hispanic Diaconate Formation Program is necessary according to Deacon Hathorne in order to better minister to Spanish-speaking people in the archdiocese.
“Fr. Bruce Krause (pastor) at St. Mary Parish in Opelika explained it best – he had people traveling 35 to 40 miles to come to receive the sacraments, to hear confessions, to be baptized, just to speak to clergy,” Deacon Hathorne said. “They were traveling such distances. People are not receiving the sacraments. When they need to be counseled, or when they’re hurting, there’s no one to minister to them.”
The archdiocese currently has about 40 active deacons and most don’t speak Spanish. The archdiocese also has 19 candidates currently in formation who are scheduled to be ordained in 2022.
Deacon Hathorne is hoping to recruit between 25 and 35 applicants to begin a three-month inquiry session in January 2021. Those still interested would continue with the application/interview process and those accepted would begin the formation process in 2022.
Candidates don’t need to be fluent in English, but meet minimum standards.
“We want them to (eventually) preach and proclaim the Gospel in English and Spanish,” Deacon Hathorne said.
The Hispanic Diaconate Formation Program will be made possible through a partnership with the Dioceses of Birmingham, Biloxi, Lafayette (La.) and Louisville (Ky.), along with the Southeast Pastoral Institute. SEPI is a part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and assists Hispanic ministries in southeast U.S. dioceses.
It will play an important role in formation classes and SEPI recently announced Dr. Olga Villar as its new formation director. Dr. Villar earlier served as director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mobile.
“You can see the Holy Spirit involved,” Deacon Hathorne said.
The Hispanic formation class will coincide with a diaconate formation class in English. Both classes would be scheduled to be ordained in 2026.
While there will be two different classes, the diaconate candidates will share a common trait.
“He’s got to have a servant’s heart and serve God’s people,” Deacon Hathorne said. “We’re not looking for preachers, we’re not looking for teachers. We’re looking for someone who loves God’s people and wants to serve them.”
By ROB HERBST