Story by S.L. Hansen
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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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.