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Ordained: Deacon fulfills lifelong calling to serve

Tony Holt to serve St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Belfield and St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Fairfield.

Tony Holt
Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk laying hands on Tony Holt during deacon ordainment.
Contributed / Father Marty Nagy
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BELFIELD, N.D. — Deacon Tony Holt is settling into his new role, serving St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in Belfield and St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Fairfield.

Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk traveled from Chicago, Ill. for the ordination at the Belfield parish in October. Father Marty Nagy said many levels of clergy came to the ordination.

“It was really a beautiful celebration,” Nagy said. “They traveled from other parts of the country and they came out here so that they can celebrate the ordination. So we really had the full clergy here.”

Holt had aspired to become deacon for decades prior to his ordainment.

“I felt the call to service as a deacon for 25 years, and it was a steady urging to be in that very unique service that a deacon has,” Holt said.

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He is still in awe of his ordination.

“It's been very beautiful because it is a very different way of being in God's presence, being in other people's presence,” Holt said. “It's very humbling to be called to be in that position, to be offering those prayers and those petitions and to be coming alongside people that way.”

Holt ordainment
From left, Deacon Marko Krutiak from Chicago, Deacon Tony Holt, Deacon Philip Gilbert from Kansas and Fr. Ivan Shkumbatyuk of Minneapolis.
Contributed / Father Marty Nagy

Holt, who is an engineer, said he was born and baptized a Roman Catholic. He and his wife, Katrina, were drawn to Ukrainian Catholic traditions.

“That is where our hearts were filled the most,” Holt said. “The journey began many years ago – about 30 years ago for me – with a very deep study of the early fathers of the Church.”

Formerly residents of western Washington, the Holts moved to Belfield about three years ago.

“Part of our decision in selecting Belfield was because it had our church here already,” Holt said. “I have family roots here. My family were homesteaders in North Dakota many, many years ago.”

Nagy said he knew Holt was the right fit for a deacon almost immediately.

“The first week I met Tony I talked to him about the possibility of being deacon because I could see right away he had a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge about the church and a real desire to serve the church in many ways,” Nagy said. “He already had been doing some teaching. He was on the parish council.”

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He said the Holts’ deep involvement in the church stood out.

“He had taken some theological studies already, and I just thought he was a fantastic candidate,” Nagy said. “So actually, my first month here I called my bishop and recommended that Tony be ordained to the diaconate.”

Shortly before becoming a deacon, he was ordained as a subdeacon, which is a title unique to Byzantine and Ukrainian Catholic traditions, Holt said.

“The subdeacon is really called to be a missionary in the parish,” Holt said. “I'm serving now as a deacon, and it's a part of the overall reaching out to people to bring God's healing and love. Bringing the understanding of God to people, helping them know who Jesus is, helping them to come into a loving relationship with Jesus to help them to break down their fears associated with our sins, and come to know God's forgiveness that he offers to all of us. And it's a very joyful journey.”

Katrina Holt has been an essential part of her husband’s faith-led path, he said.

“A deacon's wife always ends up participating in the ministry of the deacon at some level,” Holt said. “We really enjoy serving people together that way, and she's a very important part of my support in the diaconate and just the ministry of a deacon. She's a very integral part of that.”

Some of Holt’s duties as deacon include incensing, petitions and reading the gospel, Nagy said.

“I'm looking forward to growing in the ability to have outreach to people,” Holt said. “Getting to see the elderly that are homebound and are at facilities and getting to spend more time with them. I hope to get involved with prison ministry.”

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Holt ordained
From left, Deacon Philip Gilbert, Deacon Leonard Kordonowy, Bishop Benedict Aleksiychuk, Deacon Tony Holt, Deacon Marko Krutiak, Cole and Clay Richard and Father Marty Nagy.
Ashley Koffler / The Dickinson Press

Related Topics: DICKINSONFAITHSTARK COUNTY
Ashley Koffler is a Killdeer, North Dakota native and Dickinson State University graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in writing, and minors in journalism and psychology. Formerly working in Community Affairs for Roosevelt Custer Regional Council for Development, her reporting focuses on the Dickinson city government, community features, business and agriculture — among others.
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