By Charles Albert
The Sooner Catholic
For more than 30 years, Gustavo “Gus” Orellana was hearing a call to be a deacon, but always found reasons or excuses not to answer. On Nov. 3, he will be answering God’s call.
Four parishioners of Saint Mary Catholic Church in Ardmore are part of a new deacon class of 22 who will be ordained Nov. 3. The four men have spent their careers in very different occupations, but all served people in their “lay occupations” and now want to assist the Church, assist people in their spiritual needs, continue their own faith journey, and draw people closer to Christ.
The four new deacons will be Ray Butler, 64, Robert Highsmith, 67, Juan Jimenez, 51, and Gustavo Orellana, 66. All agree that none of them could have accomplished this calling without the support and prayers of their wives and their family. All of them said they have found the education, friendship and training to be a wonderful experience.
Butler and his wife Sandra grew up Southern Baptist and went through the RCIA program about 12 years ago. Ray works as an accountant and has found great peace in the Catholic faith.
“My world view used to be negative; it is now positive.”
With his ordination, Butler hopes to help transport the disadvantaged to Church on Sundays.
Highsmith and his wife Patricia also were converts to Catholicism. Robert was attracted to the Holy Eucharist, the kindness of the late Father O’Toole, and the RCIA program on his faith journey. He has found tremendous support from his family of three children.
“The highlight of formation for me has been sharing this experience with so many wonderful people in the program.”
Robert is a retired lawyer and hopes to help the Church in any way possible. He would like to continue his work in education and work with shut-ins.
Juan Jimenez and his wife Maria are lifelong Catholics. Jimenez works as director of Hispanic Ministry for Saint Mary. His faith was greatly influenced by his grandmother, both by her faith and her work in helping people.
In his early life, his faith would be tested through many tough times and there were times when his faith was lacking. However, as he got older, Jimenez said, “The Eucharistic seed that his grandmother and parents planted finally grew.”
Jimenez is open to any task at the parish and really wants urge people to come “home” to the Church and the Eucharist as he did.
Gus Orellana also is a lifelong Catholic. His wife Krystal was raised Southern Baptist and converted when they married 39 years ago. For many years he felt the calling to do something more. Working as a business analysist, there were things “that got in the way.”
“Finally, this was the time,” and with the support of his family, he said he is overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge he’s attained.
“I wish I would have done it earlier.”
Orellana hopes to work with the RCIA program.
Charles Albert is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.