Noel Oteyza remembers a calling to serve the Lord when he was an altar server at mass during a Eucharistic Cenacle in grade school. He recalls experiencing such peace and joy. After that, he said doors opened to serve in several ministries. He began attending retreats, conferences and pilgrimages, which led him to diaconate formation.
Oteyza earned an Aerospace Engineering Degree at the University of Maryland in College Park, then began his career at Dual Inc. supporting NAVAIR in Crystal City, Va. His career brought him to Orlando, where he met Karyl.
The couple became parishioners of Holy Family in 2000. He has more than 20 years in Seminole County Traffic Engineering and worked more than 26 years offering part-time customer service for Marriott Hotels and Walt Disney World.
Oteyza visits the incarcerated in prisons and volunteers at Shepherd’s Hope, which provides access to healthcare for the uninsured.
He said one of the most challenging parts of formation was “resuming academic studies after being out of school for many years.” He noted, “Surrendering to God’s will helped me to learn much about the richness and fullness of the Catholic Church.” He felt it was a grace to have Karyl at his side. “Going through formation together has allowed us to grow in our faith and love for each other,” he said. They both continue to spend a dedicated weekly hour with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, since 2000 when they began dating.
As a deacon, he hopes to use his gifts of customer service at either the hospital, airport or wherever God, through the leadership of his bishop, calls him.
Deacon Bob Pleus was born in Orlando, FL. Deacon Bob attended St. James School in Orlando and then the last two years of high school were at St. Thomas Military Academy in St. Paul, MN. This led him to Notre Dame in South Bend, IN where he graduated with a Political Science degree, returned to Florida to attend the University of Florida Law School. Bob practiced law in Central Florida for thirty- five years. During those years he was a diocesan attorney for four separate bishops in the Diocese of Orlando.
Deacon Bob’s parents were practicing Catholics and as a family, they regularly prayed together and attended Mass at St. James Cathedral. At the suggestion of a friend, John DeVito, in Washington, DC Bob started considering the diaconate.
Attending Loyola University’s LYMEX program as the major part of his formation he received his MA in Pastoral Ministries. Deacon Bob was ordained as a Deacon at St. James Cathedral on June 4, 2000, by Bishop Norbert Dorsey. Prior to receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders at St. James Cathedral he had received the Sacrament of Baptism, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and Holy Matrimony all at the cathedral.
Bob said he would recommend the diaconate to a young man if he listens to the Holy Spirit; and if he has a wife and family, considers their needs. Deacon Bob said this country is short on priests and we need to pray for more priests. He did consider becoming a priest while at Notre Dame.
Deacon Bob’s favorite Bible verse is John 3:16 and he is in awe of the love of God, that Jesus would die for his (and our) salvation. While serving here at Holy Family he presides at baptisms, funerals, and gives homilies. He feels blessed to have the support of Fr. Ennis as his spiritual director as well as Deacon Jack Martin who helped during the early years of his formation. Deacon Bob said he would do it all over again as it leads to a happy life based on service to the parish and the diaconate gives him that opportunity.
Deacon Richard Dodd is a native of Washington, D.C. and has been a member of Holy Family since 1997. As an undergraduate, he studied at Loyola Marymount University and George Washington University from which he received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. He holds a Master’s degree in Theology from St. Leo University.
His professional career began in New York City as an actor at the Strasberg Theatre Institute. He later worked as South Carolina’s State Coordinator for Conservation Education; as a Sales and Operations Manager for the Weyerhauser Paper and Timber Company; and as a regional training executive with the Sanofi Pharmaceutical Company.
Deacon Richard was originally commissioned in the Archdiocese of Miami as a lay evangelist in 1993. He currently serves as the Diocese of Orlando’s Coordinator for Ministry to the Incarcerated, a sacramental PREP catechist, Head of the Men’s Emmaus ministry and an instructor with Holy Family’s Dynamic Catholic Book Studies program.
His initial discernment began when invited to consider the Diaconate while living in Miami in the 1980s. Several years later following the death of his wife Linda who taught in our Holy Family school, discernment commenced for a second time, but again was not affirmed. Blessed by the sacramental grace of remarriage to his wife Kim, a vocational call to the Diaconate returned for the third time, and strengthened by the counsel and prayer of Monsignor Ennis and his mentor Deacon Spencer, he entered Formation in 2012 and was ordained in 2017 by Bishop John Noonan.
As the first-born of seven children in a family dedicated to the Franciscan ethic of offering material care and spiritual presence to the poor and those in need, his role as Deacon fully embraces St. Peter’s direction to “Use whatever gifts you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace.” He has been married a total of 38 years and has four children and eight grandchildren and resides in Windermere.
Deacon Rick Chabot was born in Birmingham, AL and is the second of four children. He attended parochial grammar school in Alabama but moved to Texas for public high school and then Texas State University. His family was active in their faith with Mom and Dad always attending church as a family and usually more than once a week. His Italian mother prayed the Rosary every morning and evening and the children were free to join in if they wanted to, but were not forced.
Rick was the first born son and it was expected for him to become a priest. He never had a calling to be a priest and the Texas girls put an exclamation point on that decision. He pursued a lofty career as an Air Force pilot and then as a commercial pilot.
A priest in Texas saw diaconate potential for Rick as he was active in multiple ministries there. Monsignor Henry Petter encouraged Rick to apply just before he had a job change and moved to Orlando. Monsignor Petter contacted then pastor, Fr. William Ennis, and shortly afterwards Rick started his diaconate training to obtain a Masters of Theology degree from Saint Leo’s University. Rick was ordained at Saint James Cathedral by Bishop John Noonan in June of 2012.
Deacon Rick enjoys working with the people of the parish and in other places such as the homeless shelters where he can be involved in helping others. “God gave us the gift of life and as a community we should be helping in any way possible.” For that reason Deacon Rick is involved in many activities at Holy Family including the Building and Finance committees, FOCCUS Marriage Preparation Ministry and the Ministry to the Sick at Doctor Phillips Hospital as well as at Nemours Hospital.
His favorite Biblical thought is to ‘love God with all your heart and soul and to love one another as He loves us.’ He said that we, as a community of believers do not understand that God is ‘everywhere and in everyone’ and that some people help us remember this, and sometimes we help others remember this.
Deacon Jack Martin has been his spiritual director and he has encouraged Deacon Rick to never forget that the church is people.
Deacon Larry Brockman was born in Baltimore, MD and is the older of two boys. Larry attended Maryvale Catholic grammar school in Baltimore and then Notre Dame high school for a few years before moving to LaJolla, CA where he completed high school. From there he went to UCLA for a BS, MS and PhD in electrical engineering. Larry’s Mom was a cradle Catholic and the family attended Mass together regularly.
In 1990 his Dad became a convert.
Larry’s calling to the diaconate was a slow process. He was a lector while in CA and took over scheduling Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC) at Holy Family since 1984. He took small steps and then Fr. John O’Holohan, S.J. once said he should consider the diaconate and so he did. Deacon Larry said his wife was most influential in his successful completion of the training with her encouragement and her attending the training with him. This led to his ordination at St. James Cathedral on June 11, 2005 with Bishop Thomas Wenski.
Deacon Larry’s favorite activities are preaching, baptisms and volunteering at Health Central Hospital. He has pursued a clinical pastoral education offered by Orlando Regional Medical Center. He is still scheduling lectors and EMHC. Deacon Larry has been active at Westminster Towers Health Center visiting patients, Respect Life and the Liturgical Committee. He said he would recommend the diaconate to a young man as long as they have encouragement from their families.
Larry feels there will be a renewal of men in the seminary and in diaconate and mentioned how as far back as in Biblical times it was determined by the economy of the times, good times led to fewer vocations and bad times led to more vocations. His favorite Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 13-14, the patient and kind verse chosen for many weddings.
Deacon Larry is thankful to Deacon Jack Martin who mentored him during his diaconate training and the early years of his diaconate. He is thankful that Holy Family has seven deacons offering the opportunity to minister to many parishioners.
Deacon Spencer was ordained at Saint James Cathedral on June 29, 2013, by Bishop John Noonan. He is part of a group of deacons that were the first class to complete a five-year course with Saint Leo’s University.
Spencer was born in Quito, Ecuador and was the fourth child of five and the only boy. He attended public schools there and finished with a civil engineering degree at the State University of Guayaquil. The whole family are ‘cradle Catholics’ as Spencer beamed with pride. His mother prayed the Rosary daily with his sisters and they all went to Mass as a family. This was mostly without his father present as he was a merchant marine and away a lot of the time.
When asked about a vocation calling Spencer had a rather unusual reply. In his youth, a religious vocation was frowned upon, and locals thought that the person died in the seminary since no one ever saw them again. They were cloistered and would live without having children. These ideas made a religious vocation a difficult possibility. But Spencer did have a calling while in Florida while doing the Saint Ignatius Prayer Exercises with Fr. John O’Holohan, S.J. He had a very significant influence on Spencer, spiritually, with the Ignatian Exercises and Retreats.
Deacon Spencer’s favorite part of his diaconate is bringing to the altar at the offertory each day, all the people he served during the week. He recommends the diaconate to anyone if they are called to go the extra mile and serve God. Spencer feels that vocations are plentiful but more people need to discern their calling. Spencer has been at Holy Family for many years after moving from New York, and has been involved in many ministries such as: prison ministry, PREP, spiritual direction with ‘Audire’ or listening, Saint Vincent de Paul as Spiritual Director, mentoring two young men for the diaconate, mentoring to the Young Adults ministry, training altar servers and following Fr. John O’Holohan, S.J. example in giving the Ignatius Exercise experience to many at Holy Family.
Spencer’s favorite Bible verse is from Mark to ‘serve and not be served and to give your life for the ransom of many’. He feels that the new emphasis on the diaconate from Vatican II was the most practical and spiritual part of it. He says his spiritual director is Father Ennis and he considers him a friend, boss, and teacher. Spencer really liked our pastor’s phrase about Holy Family being an ‘oasis of faith’ today. Spencer expressed his gratitude to Holy Family’s family for embracing his family over the last twenty-one years as a parishioner, employee and now as a minister.
You can just see the joy Spencer has in his new position as a deacon and he is experiencing ‘heaven on earth’.