LINCOLN (SNR) - Bishop James D. Conley will ordain three men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Lincoln Saturday, May 25. All are invited to attend the Mass of Ordination, 11 a.m. at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ in Lincoln.
Deacon David Gayhart
Deacon Gayhart is from Chrisney, Ind., the oldest of seven children born to Janie and the late Mark Gayhart. He has one younger brother and five sisters.
Educated at home for high school, the music aficionado and martial arts enthusiast enrolled at Saint Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward as soon as he earned his diploma, with the support of his immediate family. However, he wasn’t absolutely certain of what God was asking him to do with his life at the time.
"I had thought about the seminary for a while and went there more to calm my own thoughts and stop people from harassing me about it," Deacon Gayhart admitted. "My vocation was constantly confirmed through my superiors and the joy that I have consistently experienced in the seminary."
He completed four years at Saint Gregory the Great and just completed four at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Looking back, he described the challenges of seminary’s incredibly demanding schedule as, "very good for my own growth."
Now he is looking forward to celebrating the sacraments of the Eucharist and confession as he receives his first assignment from Bishop Conley. He also loves to teach, though he sees he has room to grow in that area.
"I will undoubtedly make numerous mistakes once I get into the parish, and ask that people be patient with me as I learn the ropes of being a good pastor," he said.
In the meantime, he wants to thank the people of the diocese for all their support, encouragement and prayers.
"I am convinced that I could not have done this without them," Deacon Gayhart stated.
Deacon Steven Mills
Deacon Steven Mills is the youngest of Ed and Mary Mill’s four children. His eldest sibling is Sister Mary Cecilia, C.K., and there are two brothers between them. The family attended Saint Mary Parish in Nebraska City, where Deacon Mills graduated from Lourdes Central Catholic School.
As a child, Deacon Mills said, he planned to play basketball professionally before becoming a priest. When reality about his athletic prowess hit, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"As my prayer life deepened," Deacon Mills recalled, "I slowly opened myself to listen to His will for me... I remember finally being willing to put all of my plans aside and to do absolutely whatever He wanted me to do."
Sustained by the prayers of his family and friends, Deacon Mills attended St. Gregory the Great Seminary for two years and then St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.
Deacon Mills described seminary as, "a time to let the Holy Spirit more fully take control… my time in the seminary helped me learn more about myself as a man and a Catholic."
Now he’s looking forward to living out the sacramental life on a daily basis, though he is keenly aware that, "I am completely unworthy of what the Lord will be doing through me: saying Mass hearing confessions, etc."
He expressed deep gratitude to all who prayed for him during seminary and hopes the people of the diocese will join him in striving for holiness.
"It will make the priest’s job even better the more we are all running toward the Lord together," he said, adding, "Understand that I’m new at this... so enjoy the mistakes and the learning curve."
Deacon Adam Sparling
Hailing from North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln, Deacon Adam Sparling is the son of Greg Sparling and Terri and Con Murray. He is the third out of eight children in this expanded family, which includes five sisters, two brothers, a brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece.
"I thought about a vocation to the priesthood while in high school and strongly considered it," Deacon Sparling recalled. "However, I was also greatly interested in becoming a firefighter/paramedic."
So, he tried to "hide from God’s call," even going as far as trying to "avoid ‘churchy’ things."
He attended Southeast Community College after graduating from Pius X High School, becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) with professional board national certifications in firefighting.
During Lent 2005, Deacon Sparling began attending daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration at the Newman Center.
"Christ softened my heart and I became more open to His call to serve Him and His Church," Deacon Sparling said.
With friends and family encouraging him, Deacon Sparling attended Saint Gregory the Great Seminary, then Mount Saint Mary Seminary.
Deacon Sparling now laughs about his struggles in philosophy courses, which led to wrestling in prayer with St. Thomas Aquinas and a little extra help from the Blessed Mother.
He looks forward to celebrating the sacraments with and for the people of God, sharing in their joys as well as their suffering.
"Together we can take on the great mission of Christ," he said.
He hopes the people of the Diocese of Lincoln will assist him through prayer and, "by becoming the best disciple you can be… The New Evangelization is very much alive in the Church and we all need each other’s support."
Bishop Conley will also ordain six men as transitional deacons Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral. Four men will be ordained for the Diocese of Lincoln and two for the Diocese of Columbo in Sri Lanka.