Photo: Sarah Webb/CatholicPhilly.com
A longtime archdiocesan staffer, newly ordained as a permanent deacon, says he’s blessed to serve those in need through a ministry of both spreadsheets and sacraments.
“It really melds together so perfectly and beautifully,” said Franz Fruehwald, chief financial officer for archdiocesan Catholic Social Services (CSS).
Fruehwald has spent more than 30 years at CSS, balancing the books and heading up its IT division for 12 years before being appointed as CFO.
Managing the money behind CSS’s array of services – which broadly support families, youth, immigrants, persons with intellectual disabilities and those experiencing homelessness and hunger – is a sacred stewardship, he said.
“I came here looking for a job, and then quickly realized it was really a natural extension of who I was as a person, as a Catholic,” said Fruehwald.
Eight years ago, while immersed in budgets and strategic planning for CSS, Fruehwald discerned a call to the permanent diaconate — a summons he figured he’d missed out on decades earlier.
“I’d thought about it many years ago, but we had young children then,” he said, noting that the diaconate involves “a tremendous commitment of time” for both the candidate and his spouse.
“Back then, I told my pastor about my possible vocation, and he said, ‘That’s fine, but consider the time and energy this requires,’” said Fruehwald. “So I thought, ‘He’s probably right. I’ll wait.’”
While raising their family, Fruehwald and his wife Marian threw themselves into parish life at St. Cecilia in Philadelphia, volunteering for various activities. After their children were grown, Fruehwald’s interest in the diaconate revived, but he concluded that he was ineligible since he was over the age limit of 50.
However, a chance encounter at the office revealed that he hadn’t “missed the boat” after all, he said.
Welcome aboard the boat, brother!