Deacon Manuel “Yadil” Díaz Santo baptizes a child for the first time in his hometown of Los Montacitos. (FATHER FRED RUSE)

Deacons ordained thanks to missionary efforts

ORLANDO | More than 200 people from the mountain communities of Los Montacitos and La Cucarita caravanned down a steep, winding road to celebrate the diaconate ordination of two of their own Sept. 22.

Jesus “Nilson” Delgado and Manuel “Yadil” Díaz Santo work and live as farmers in Orlando’s sister Diocese of San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic. Now they will plant seeds of faith in the people. They are just two of seven men ordained permanent deacons by Bishop José Grullón Estrella.

The deacons went right to work the following day, baptizing children and assisting with the Sacrament of First Holy Communion. When Deacon Delgado preached his homily at Mass in Los Frios, it was clear he was “on fire.”

“We cannot be silent,” he proclaimed. He went on to share his formation experiences and repeat Bishop Grullón Estrella’s words, “There is no deacon without a community; there is no community without a deacon.”

Most of the time there is no priest present in the mountains of Las Lomas, so the deacons will serve the nine communities. “We are to be voices for those without a voice, Deacon Díaz Santo explained. The two men will continue to advocate for the sick and make contacts in the capital, Santo Domingo, to bring proper medical care to their villages.

Retired priest Father Fred Ruse is one of the many Central Florida faithful who assisted in the new deacons’ formation.

“This was a hallmark moment for our presence in those mountains,” Father Ruse said. “It cannot be overstated: It is consistent with good mission practice — empowerment and accompaniment.”