Seminarian takes next step towards priesthood,Stovall ordained to transitional diaconate

By Joanna Puddister King and Tereza Ma
JACKSON – In a momentous ceremony held at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle on May 20, Tristan Stovall was ordained to the transitional diaconate for the Diocese of Jackson, marking a significant milestone in his journey towards the priesthood. Surrounded by family, friends and members of the diocese, the ordination of Stovall was a joyous occasion filled with faith, hope and celebration of vocations.

Deacon Stovall’s path to the diaconate began in the red clay hills of Neshoba County, where he first encountered Catholicism, being fascinated with the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II as a young boy. At the age of 15, his interest and thirst for knowledge of the Catholic faith grew when he attended Mass for the very first time at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. After that experience the young Baptist knew then that he “had to become Catholic.” This journey ultimately led him to convert to Catholicism in 2014, where he was received into full communion with the church.

Throughout his faith journey, Stovall’s desire to dedicate his life entirely to God grew stronger, and the example of the saints, particularly St. Catherine of Siena, played a significant role in his discernment. Drawn to the care of souls, he felt a calling to the diocesan priesthood, which he believed was his specific ministry within the church.

The ordination ceremony itself, was presided over by Bishop Joseph Kopacz, who bestowed the sacrament of Holy Orders upon Stovall. As the faithful witnessed the laying on of hands and the prayers of consecration, the solemnity of the moment resonated with all present, feeling the commitment that Stovall felt within his heart.

The next day, Deacon Stovall was able to take part in his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Cross Philadelphia with Father Augustine Palimattam Poulose on the Feast of the Ascension, filled with family, friends and parishioners.

“It was a beautiful experience preparing for ordination after seven years of seminary and then preparing for [my] first preaching on Ascension,” said Deacon Stovall. “It’s like a culmination of so many years of preparation.”

With his ordination to the transitional diaconate, Deacon Stovall now stands on the threshold of priesthood, embracing his role as a servant-leader within the church. As a deacon, Stovall will be an ordinary minister of Baptism, and will be able to preside at weddings, assist the priest at Mass, proclaim the Gospel and preach, as well as preside at wakes and funeral services.

Of those responsibilities, preaching is the thing that Deacon Stovall says he is most looking forward to this coming year. “The ministry of the Word is [one of] the primary things I’m going to focus on … and also the ministry of charity … becoming more attuned to people’s needs in the parish and talking with them and spending time with them.”

Currently, Deacon Stovall is in Cuernavaca, Mexico – outside of Mexico City – with Father Nick Adam and several other seminarians, taking part in a language immersion program to better serve the Hispanic community in the diocese. After returning from the program, Deacon Stovall is assigned to the Basilica of St. Mary in Natchez with Father Aaron Williams this fall before returning to seminary, and ultimately continuing his journey to the priesthood.


First Mass