Bishop Noonan stood in front of the altar at Holy Cross Parish in Orlando and laid his hands over the head of Elias Coll. At that moment, a calling the 63-year-old Catholic had his entire life was finally fulfilled.
“From the time I was in my mother’s womb, I feel I was called to be a deacon,” said Deacon Coll....
Deacon Coll was originally scheduled to be ordained in June of 2017. But doctors are not sure he will live until then. He has stage four colon cancer and the cancer has spread to other organs. Bishop Noonan decided to move up the ordination date, which was celebrated on Nov. 26.
“Elias has always been a servant of Christ – visiting the sick, homeless and needy. He has lived the call of a deacon throughout his life. Even in the midst of his fight with cancer he has let the gift of the Holy Spirit shine through him – always with faith, courage and joy,” said Deacon David Gray, director of the Diocese of Orlando Permanent Diaconate, and secretary of the Leadership and Parish Life Secretariat. “All you have to do is meet Elias and you know immediately the light of Christ is shining through him. Ordaining him now to the life he has been living was a natural decision,” he added.
Deacon Coll arrived in Orlando from Venezuela in 2003 with his family. He left to pursue better educational and economic opportunities for his children, and to be in a country that offered security, safety and freedom to live one’s faith.
“We moved here so our children could have a better future, so they could study and develop spiritually, socially as children of God. We have been blessed. God is never outdone in generosity,” said Deacon Coll, who is a parishioner of Holy Cross Parish.
His wife Enri said her husband is an example to others. Many times when people visit him because of his illness they hope to brighten his day but they are the ones to be encouraged by his unshakeable faith and deep compassion for others.
“By the glory of God I have not suffered with pain. I have not complained. On the contrary, I thank God. Thanks be to God it was me and not my wife or my children,” said Deacon Coll.