In a milestone moment for Southern California, former MLB player Darrell Miller Sr.—brother of Naismith Hall of Famers Reggie and Cheryl Miller—was ordained to the permanent diaconate on Saturday, October 23rd, becoming the first-ever Black deacon ordained in the Diocese of Orange.
A retired multi-position player for the Los Angeles Angels, he may also be the first former Major League Baseball player to become a permanent deacon.
The livestreamed ceremony took place at Christ Cathedral (formerly the Crystal Cathedral) in Garden Grove, where Bishop Kevin Vann—a Knight of Peter Claver—presided, ordaining a diaconate class of 13 that had been studying and preparing for roughly half a decade.
Miller himself began his journey about 12 years ago, when Bishop Emeritus Tod Brown invited him to consider it after hearing him speak at a dinner for the Italian Catholic Federation of Orange County.
The rest is history.
“The ordination process deepens that relationship that Christ established with you at baptism, and makes you feel the fullness of the Holy Spirit,” he told BCM.
Miller is a convert to Catholicism and shared his story in a video produced by the Knights of Columbus. He and his wife Kelly, who was integral in that journey, are members of Santa Clara de Asis Catholic Church in Yorba Linda.
Assigned to serve as a deacon at Saint Juliana Falconieri Catholic Church in Fullerton, Miller's day job is with the MLB's Urban Youth Academy in Compton, which he has run since 2005.
Miller asked that readers pray for him and his vocation, adding that if “more people are praying, the more opportunities there will be to serve, and we now need the second Black deacon.”
“If people are feeling called and want to serve, they should pursue their vocation, because it’s a great place to be.”
Stay tuned for a full-length interview with Deacon Miller coming soon!
Gunnar Gundersen is an attorney in Newport Beach, CA. He serves in his parish council and choir, is a published essayist, and regularly lectures on natural law and the American Founding. He is also the first Ordinariate member of the Knights of Peter Claver. Follow him on Twitter at @GBGundersen.