On Saturday, November 7th, Bishop James Wall ordained James Wurzbach as the newest deacon for the Diocese of Gallup. For men who study to become deacons, the process can be demanding, requiring several years of study and service to a candidate’s parish community.
Deacon Wurzbach’s path to the diaconate started nearly fifty years ago in California. He recalls being completely non-religious before meeting his wife Gloria.
Wurzbach: My wife brought me into the Church. She was a cradle Catholic and she was like my guardian angel. We got married in 1970, and I came into the Church Easter of 1972.
Voice of the Southwest: So you became Catholic – how did you discover that you were called to go even deeper, to become a deacon?
It has been an ongoing journey and it finally ended up with me becoming a Deacon. Once Monsignor Leo Gomez said ‘Jim, why aren’t you in a deacon class?’ And I said ‘oh, I don’t know…’ and hemmed and hawed about it. Finally about five years ago Deacon Frank Chavez asked me again.
I thought about it for years, and never really thought it was what I should be until Deacon Chavez asked me again. So we went through the program, four years, and I just really enjoyed it. Gloria is faithful, true-blue, and I had just kind of trailed along with it. But once I came into the Church, I realized we needed to teach more people about the Catholic faith.
Is there a particular ministry you’re looking forward to now that you’ve been ordained?
I really like teaching, and I really like preaching, but I couldn’t before because I wasn’t a deacon. I have been at St. Mary’s [in Farmington] as an acolyte, much longer than it would normally be because of Covid, and that’s okay. Fr. Chacon and Fr. King have been real blessings for me. I hope and I pray that I have faith in God and know what He wants me to say and do.
[Wurzbach has been assisting at Mass in Aztec with Fr. Robert Badger and helping at St. Mary Parish since things have been hectic with covid] So I’m really getting a lot out of church and I hope they’re getting as much as I’m getting.
You’d worked hard and looked forward so long to your ordination day – how did you feel when you were finally ordained as a deacon?
When we got there for Vespers on Friday evening I was pretty nervous. But all the priests that I have encountered…there’s just been a kindness about them – so supportive, that it has really helped me.
So when it came time for the ordination, all of a sudden I just had a whole peace come over me. The nervousness was gone – I was just excited, I was happy. And I felt really, really good.
I think, for me, one of the greatest things I’ve been taught through this process – and with Covid – was patience and humility, and perseverance. And I’m very happy now that I’m a deacon. The Holy Spirit has really opened Himself up.
That’s one of the things I really wanted to try on my first homily to espouse – the Holy Spirit. I think a lot of people need to be reminded how powerful and how loving the Holy Spirit is.
This isn’t going to be my mission – this is going to be God’s mission. And all I have to do is go along with it.