Seminarian Franklin Forts Is Ordained As Deacon
By Rita McInerney
January 10, 1991
Franklin E. Forts, Jr., was ordained to the diaconate Dec. 30, the Feast of the Holy Family, in a joyous liturgy at his home parish, St. Anthony’s in southwest Atlanta.
Bishop James P. Lyke, OFM, presided at the Eucharist and Rite before a church festive with Christmas greenery and red and white hangings and filled with parishioners, family members, friends, priests, deacons and fellow seminarians.
Father Don Kenny, archdiocesan director of vocations, presented the candidate to Bishop Lyke, stating that he had been found worthy for this ordination. After acceptance by the bishop, the congregation responded with warm applause.
In his homily, Bishop Lyke said, “Today we mark the solemn commitment of our brother Franklin to the service of the word of God, having come together to witness this important event within the family of God. At the same time we honor the Holy Family, the model of all families, whose feast we celebrate today.”
The bishop asked the young man to “draw upon your conviction and courage as you accept the challenging life of a deacon.”
“Though the period of time you shall function as a deacon will be transitional, take with you for life the fundamental and core meaning of what it means to be a deacon: to serve, to use your mind, energy and talents, to give your very life for the family, for the family of the Church, and for the family of the world. Only through this generous witness to the Gospel will you find happiness in the ordained ministry.”
Bishop Lyke told the candidate, before asking for his commitment to celibacy, that “… by this consecration you will adhere more easily to Christ with an undivided heart; you will be more freely at the service of God and mankind, and you will be more untrammeled in the ministry of Christian conversion and rebirth. By your life and character you will give witness to your brothers and sisters in faith that God must be loved above all else, and that it is He whom you serve in others.”
Then the bishop asked the candidate, “In the presence of God and the Church, are you resolved, as a sign of your interior dedication to Christ, to remain celibate for the sake of the kingdom and in lifelong service to God and mankind?”
After Franklin Forts replied, “I do,” Bishop Lyke said, “May the Lord help you to persevere in this commitment” in humility, love and service.
The candidate then gave his promise of “respect and obedience” to the bishop and his successors.
After the Litany of the Saints during which he lay prostrate in the center aisle, the candidate knelt before Bishop Lyke for the prayer of consecration. During this prayer, the bishop asked Almighty God to guide the candidate so that “he may excel in every virtue, in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self discipline, and in holiness of life.”
The new transitory deacon was then invested with the deacon’s stole and the dalmatic, the outer vestment, by Father John Adamski, close friend and former pastor of St. Anthony’s.
In speaking briefly to the congregation after his ordination to the diaconate, the Rev. Mr. Forts thanked his fellow parishioners and friends for their unfailing support.
“We are in many ways Christ for one another.” He went on to say that ever since becoming a member of the parish 13 years ago, “there is always a welcome here for me whenever I come back … We are bound together in love.”
Among the priests present for the Liturgy was Father Gerald McBrearity, SS, representing St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, where Franklin Forts is in his fourth year of theology. Father McBrearity is a priest of this archdiocese.
The new deacon then introduced his mother, Mrs. Minnie Forts, and several other relatives. He said his father, Franklin E. Forts, Sr., was unable to be present and his brother was on his way to Saudi Arabia.
Father Bruce Wilkinson, pastor of St. Anthony’s currently on a leave of absence, and Father Anselm Deehr, ST, administrator, concelebrated. The two permanent deacons of the parish, Dr. Fred Sambrone and Joseph Barker, were on the altar. A number of priests and deacons of the archdiocese were also present.
The choir of St. Anthony’s under the direction of Victor Thomas, minister of music, sang during the Liturgy. A reception followed in Adamski Hall.
The Rev. Mr. Forts, 31, was received into the Church at the Easter Vigil in 1977, by Monsignor (now Bishop) Eusebius Beltran, then pastor at St. Anthony’s. He spent four years in the U.S. Army, two of them in Germany where he served with the ski patrol at the base in Garmisch, Bavaria.
He will continue his studies at St. Mary’s until next May. He is to be ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese on June 1 at the Cathedral of Christ the King. Bishop Lyke recently approved his request to pursue studies for a licentiate in sacred theology after his ordination.