By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Julia and Mike Williams joined the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle when Julia was pregnant with her son, Aaron. He started serving as an altar server at age five and has loved liturgy ever since. On Saturday, March 18, Aaron was ordained into the transitional diaconate on his way to the priesthood.
“I was thinking about that today – he’s 25-years-old and we have been going to that church for 26 years. I am sure it means a lot to him, and it means a lot to me,” said his father of the ordination in his home parish.
Julia Williams said she encouraged her son to explore his vocation early, but both parents said they would have supported any decision he made. “I always felt like he had it (a vocation) and I was never going to discourage him. A lot of people kept saying ‘he’s young and he’ll change his mind,’ but I said I am not going to discourage him. If that’s what he wants, I am here to support him, especially when he got into junior high and people were like ‘is he going to grow out of it now?’ I said, if he’s wants it – then I am with him,” said Julia.
Williams said some parents worry about missing out on something if their son decides to become a priest, but she sees it differently. “I think it’s a real honor and a blessing to have a son who’s a priest. I’m overjoyed.” she said.
Mike Williams, Aaron’s father, felt the same way. He said he is proud of both of his sons and he just wanted them to find the vocation right for their lives. “I’ve never had a concern about it. You know, he’s going to be taken care of. And he’s going to take care of people. We have two sons and both of them – whatever they wanted to do we just got behind them,” he said.
Deacon Williams entered the seminary right out of high school. In addition to his regular studies at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, he is earning a masters of liturgy from St. Murdelin Seminary in Chicago. Deacon Williams’ love for liturgy and liturgical music runs deep. He plays the organ and arranges hymns for the seminary schola, or choir.
Bishop Joseph Kopacz recalled one of history’s great deacons and musicians, St. Ephrem, in his homily. Ephrem was a father of the eastern church who used songs to combat the many heresies of his time. The bishop pointed to the importance of music and liturgy in the life of the church.
Barbara and Donnie Tynes watched Deacon Williams grow up in the cathedral. They said they could see his devotion to liturgy early. “Aaron has always stood out, even when he was in high school. He was always so reverent. Everything he did, all the Holy Week services,” said Barbara.
“He was so prepared, so involved,” added Donnie.
The couple said they hoped Aaron’s vocation would carry him into the priesthood and are glad to see him take this next step.
“It’s kind of like your own children graduating or moving on to something else and you’re just so proud of them that they can overcome these hurdles to make it to where they did,” said Donnie.
Deacon Williams will serve in Meridian at St. Patrick and St. Joseph Parishes before he is ordained into the priesthood next summer.