God is My Tour Guide
The Reverend Martin W. (Marty) Zlatic, Rector
[The following article was published in the May 2000 edition of The Carpenter, our parish newsletter.]
St. Joseph’s has been a significant part of what continues to be a real spiritual journey. In the past twenty years, God has enabled me to be a pastor, live in Rome for four years, travel around the world eight times, be a cruise director, marry the girl of my dreams, have two priceless children, “commute” to Brazil for two years of work, be received into the Episcopal priesthood, and be a worker priest sharing time between Motorola and my parish duties at St. Andrew’s in Lake Worth.
My “active ministry” began in the second half of 1981, when as a deacon I was assigned to be a Roman Catholic Chaplain to the U.S. Army and Air Force in Weisbaden, Germany. After six months, I returned to Rome for a final year of studies. After I was ordained, I was assigned as an assistant priest at St. Clement’s in St. Louis, Missouri.
One of my loves is music, which has been a part of all my parish involvement. At the North American College in Rome, I was selected as Head Cantor for the seminary. I had functioned in a similar capacity at the Old Cathedral in St. Louis. While I was deacon at Hainerberg Chapel in Germany, I organized a choir and conducted seminars in liturgical music.
My journey to the Episcopal priesthood really began back in St. Louis when I decided to leave the active Roman Catholic priesthood. After three years of struggle, I was no longer able to function as an effective priest in the living situation within which I was compelled to minister. There was no other ministerial alternative available to me at the time, and I had not yet found another spiritual home within which to exercise my gifts.
Because I had been involved in the travel industry as a job before priesthood, this was my best opportunity for immediate employment when I left the parish. I obtained employment with INTRAV, a travel company in St. Louis. Although the constant travel out of the country delayed my search to find a new spiritual home, it did have a significant impact on my life. After one year on the job, I met Dee who was traveling with her mother on a trip to the Orient.
Dee was living in New Jersey at the time, and I was in St. Louis. Due to my travel schedule, we were able to maintain a “long distance” relationship—for six years! (We kept People’s Express and Eastern Airlines in business for a while!) These years entailed several job changes for me (from cruise directing to international marketing to Motorola), and a move back home to Jacksonville, Florida for Dee, and a move to Chicago, Illinois for me. When Dee settled in Jacksonville, we both found a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church at All Saint’s Parish. When I was not on the road with my employment, I spent my weekends visiting with Dee.
It was my desire at that time to initiate the process of returning to the active ministry. Our rector in Jacksonville, Fr. John Riley, was supportive of my desire, but unable to help because I was under the jurisdiction of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. It would only be possible for me to begin the process once I was able to relocate to Florida. This became possible when Motorola transferred me to Boynton Beach in November of 1992, which enabled us to live in the same time zone for the first time in our six years. It also enabled us to become engaged and get married.
In our search for a new Episcopal home, God soon led us to St. Joseph’s. We attended a Sunday Eucharist and were warmly welcomed when the peace was offered by a very classy woman sitting in front of us. She introduced herself as Sharon Cassell. We soon joined the parish and later had the honor of having our daughter, Demery, baptized by Fr. Mike. On the same weekend, we celebrated a surprise party for Dee’s fortieth birthday. (Oops, sorry honey!)
I did not realize that Fr. Bob Deshaies had just gone through the process of reception into the priesthood through Fr. Mike. So, when I first approached Fr. Mike about my desire, he rolled his eyes a bit as if to say “Here we go again!” With Fr. Mike’s wonderful support and encouragement, I was able to complete the process and was received into the priesthood on April 22, 1998.
One of my favorite memories is an image from my priesthood reception. As my Mom and Dee’s Mom held up the bread and wine in front of the altar, Brie, Demery, and friends surrounded them in a liturgical dance with Michelle Topi leading the congregation singing “Come to the Feast.” That image captures for me the spirit of St. Joseph’s—rooted in the Eucharist, surrounded by family and friends, inviting all to join in the feast that God has prepared for us.
Since December of 1997, the feast for me has been at St. Andrew’s in Lake Worth. I have enjoyed working with Fr. Bill Hamilton on a part-time basis. In the two and a half years I have been here, we have instituted some exciting traditions, including the Maundy Thursday Seder Meal and Eucharist that we just celebrated with a full house. Through my unique job at Motorola, God continues to bring people into my life who need some counseling and support.
I thank Fr. Mike and St. Joseph’s for being such a part of our life’s journey that continues to be an exciting one—especially when God is the tour guide!
In Christ, The Reverend Martin W. (Marty) Zlatic, Rector