The world lost a good man this week: Deacon Francis Head, who died in hospice after a battle with congestive heart failure. He was ordained in Atlanta but moved to Florida three years ago. Francis was a regular visitor to my blog and Facebook page, and one of the regrets of my life is that I never got to meet him in person. But something that came through clearly and beautifully in all of his interactions online was his great love of his family and his faith.
His life’s journey was not easy, yet he managed it with abundant grace.
When he was ordained in 2013, the Georgia Bulletin noted:
Deacon Head was paralyzed after a motorcycle crash when he was 20. Now he views his disability and wheelchair as a gift.
“When I started formation, I did not want to be the ‘wheelchair deacon,’ but I have learned through much prayer that I am uniquely gifted by God to minister to many people who feel they have no one who understands them,” he said. “There is dignity through Christ whether you roll through life or walk through it.”
He is a member of the Disabilities Ministry’s advisory board for the archdiocese. His parish of St. Gabriel Church, Fayetteville, has found “simple solutions to any problem” when he is assisting at Mass. His son, Will, held the Book of the Gospels at his first Mass while he read. As a teacher at St. John the Evangelist School, Hapeville, he has led school assemblies.
“Now, I not only get to be a deacon at my parish, but also fulfill that role at the school. I am doubly blessed,” he said.
His wife, Stacey, said the years of commitment and training were worth it.
“I was amazed that this part of the journey was coming to fruition. All of that hard work was worth the effort. It was an extremely joyful moment for our whole family,” she said.
Friends, please remember his wife and his son in your prayers at Mass this weekend, along with all those who love him and feel this loss so deeply. Grieve with them, pray for them, hope with them. And join me in praying that Francis is now in the Father’s house, praying for all of us.
Well done, good and faithful servant.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…