Congratulations to Deacon Bob Fritts!
Ordination May 30, 2020
Blessed Sacrament extends our congratulations to Deacon Bob Fritts, who was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate this Saturday at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Deacon Bob (as he wishes to be called) has been assigned to serve here at Blessed Sacrament, where he has already been serving faithfully for many years! We have asked him to introduce himself to the parish more formally through the interview below, and to preach his first homily at our weekend Pentecost masses.
Please tell us about yourself and your family.
My parents moved to Savannah when I was six months old. I grew up Episcopal, and was baptized in 1962. I have been married to Mary Beth for 37 years and we have two wonderful children and there fiancés, Kimberly (Andy) and Dexter (Avery), two grandchildren, Ansley Kate and Kellen Andrew Smith. Mary Beth and I have been members of the Church since 2009. I first became interested in the Catholic faith during high school at Benedictine, but since then I found out that my mother’s family was Catholic and fled persecution from Czechoslovakia in the 1850’s. I have been committed to serving others since my youth. I am an Eagle Scout and have been involved in many youth programs. I retired from the Government and have served numerous local and national organizations in leadership roles. I attended college in Savannah and received a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems. As part of the diaconate program, I received a Master’s Degree in Theology.
How did God call you to become a Permanent Deacon?
I derive so much joy in working with others. This is especially true working with the underserved including the sick, hopeless and poor. It became clear to me that God was calling me in 2013 when I began to help at the hospital. As I visited sick people, I felt God’s presence in the Eucharist. But there is nothing more convincing than the experience I encountered on June 13, 2015 at 4:15 pm. I will share the full story soon, but on that day, I came face to face with the Holy Spirit.
Describe the classes and formation program required in the Diocese of Savannah to be ordained.
After expressing an interest in the Diaconate, you begin to discern this calling. There are a number of interviews and evaluations. These take several months. You must submit a number of records to the Bishop. After this period you will receive a letter from the bishop accepting or denying your application. Your first year continues your discernment and aspirancy. An interview panel undergoes your evaluation each year. Classes are held in person every month for 48 months. Some are followed up by weekly online meetings. Students must write a number of papers during each semester. These are usually presented in a thesis style following a college level format. At the second year, you are received as a deacon candidate. The third and fourth year result in being elevated to the minor offices of the church and you become an ordinary lector and acolyte. The fifth and final year of this journey, you are preparing for graduation. A final interview is conducted and you then complete a pastoral year and a canonical retreat. Ordination occurs after you submit a request to the Bishop.
You will be ordained a deacon by the laying on of hands of Bp. Hartmayer on your head this Saturday. What is going through your mind and heart as you approach this life changing moment?
One journey is about to end and a new one is starting. I have made so many friends along the way who have shared in this great experience. The most important friend is Jesus. You learn to trust in Him. There is so much to learn about the church but the most important thing is to keep your focus on Jesus. You learn that it is not about us individually. I know that my calling is to serve Him and do our best to be living examples of Christ on Earth.
To what specific ministry do you feel most called in your diaconal work here at Blessed Sacrament?
I hope to help those who are underserved. God calls us to make disciples of all people regardless to their station in life. There are so many people in the hospital, on the street, or anywhere, who are spiritually poor and need help. I look forward to bringing Christ to others when they need Him the most.