EL DORADO -- Bishop Anthony B. Taylor celebrated Jason Sharbaugh's diaconate ordination for a packed Holy Redeemer Church in El Dorado Nov. 28. The diocesan seminarian is completing studies at St. Mary Seminary in Houston and will be ordained a priest May 22 in Little Rock.
Sharbaugh's ordination into the diaconate brought him full circle to the parish of a priest whom Sharbaugh admitted he once rebelled against, but for whom he always carried immense respect.
Father Gregory Pilcher, OSB, pastor of the church, joked with attendees about Sharbaugh's inauspicious start toward the diaconate and priesthood. Sharbaugh grinned sheepishly and nodded in assent when "Father Gregory," as parishioners know him, shared that as a former Subiaco Academy dean he struggled to keep the rambunctious young man in line.
"I think it can be a good thing when our priests show a little spunk," noted Bishop Taylor, as the audience erupted in laughter.
Earlier in the ceremony, Bishop Taylor exhorted Sharbaugh to "be a bright light shining in a dark world," saying that the heart of any vocation rests in Christ's call to act on the best that resides in each of us.
During his homily, Bishop Taylor reminded parishioners that there are two kinds of hypocrites. One type of familiar hypocrite is someone who feigns piety on the outside but who is far less pious on the inside. But there is another kind of hypocrite who is less visible, said Bishop Taylor. That hypocrite is a person who is actually much better on the inside than manifested outwardly.
"Each one of us has a light to share with others," he said. "We also have some darkness."
Bishop Taylor said that Sharbaugh, a member of Sacred Heart Church in Morrilton, must observe his daily holy hour because he will not only be listening for the word of God, he would be called on to preach it.
"Evils can extinguish the light within, so never turn away from the hope the Gospel gives," he said. "Jason, you are called by the church today to be a bright light shining in a dark world. We put you on a lamp stand ... now let your light shine so that through you others may be drawn to the light. The saving light of Jesus."
Sharbaugh, 33, said that Bishop Taylor's homily really hit home for him since he was certainly more concerned with "being cool" in high school than heeding the voice of God.
It wasn't until Sharbaugh was in the middle of his first year of law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock that he was struck by his true calling.
"You are who you are, but hopefully you learn to channel that energy toward seeking God and a true relationship with him," he said.
Father Pilcher said he found Sharbaugh's ordination not only personally touching, but also important for parishioners to witness.
"When we celebrate something as sacred as an ordination in a home parish, it provides a sense of belonging to the greater Catholic community, as well as providing an example to others who might be considering a call to vocations," he said.
The Rite of Ordination included several touching moments, including music composed by Father Pilcher and music director Michael Odom.
Following the bishop's homily, the candidate knelt before the altar while numerous priests who had traveled to South Arkansas for the occasion joined the bishop for the laying of hands and prayer of ordination. The acts, which come directly from Scripture, are an essential part of ordination to signify the conferral of the Holy Spirit through whose power the candidate is ordained.
"I always knew the light of God was in Jason. It just took some time to grow," his mother Beth Sharbaugh of Morrilton said following the ceremony.
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