Members of the first class of permanent deacons and their wives stand outside the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in 1971. The deacons and their wives, from left to right: Charles and Janet Kruger, Hubert and Dolores Derouaux, George and Joyce Evans, Bernard and Antoinette Bak, Doris and Americus Roy, and Angelina and Richard Johe. (Photo: Catholic Review)
When George Evans became one of the first deacons in the United States in 1971, the 37-year-old from Baltimore County was already a family man with a wife and four children, but over the 50 years of his ministry his “family” has grown exponentially.
“It’s the people that drew me in. And the fact that I brought so many people into the Catholic Church,” said Deacon Evans, who will celebrate his milestone with a special Mass June 20 at St. Rita in Dundalk. “The church is really my family. And I don’t like missing any time with my family. I know so many people there.”
Father George Gannon, pastor of St. Stephen in Bradshaw, met Deacon Evans when they served together at St. Rita. Father Gannon said even though Deacon Evans had cut back on his ministry in his later years, he was still in high demand among parishioners.
“I would say most of the baptisms that were done at St. Rita’s were done by Deacon George and not because he was just there to do them, but because people requested him. And it was the same thing with weddings.”
Deacon Evans’ work has spanned generations. He would celebrate the weddings of young couples and years later be on hand for the baptisms and marriages of their children.
“Once he made a connection with you, he kept that connection alive. He recognized people. He really was someone who welcomed people to the church and continued to support them in their role as a disciple of Christ,” Father Gannon said.
Over the decades Deacon Evans has been a fixture at his parishes, but that wasn’t always the case. He was among the first class of new deacons after the Second Vatican Council restored the permanent diaconate. Deacon Evans and five other Baltimore men were ordained at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen as the national news media looked on.