An arresting achievement
Deacon Royce Winters laughs when asked whether his skills as a former SWAT negotiator ever come in handy as a church official.
“The skills I would use are in conflict management,” he replied.
The former Cincinnati Police specialist is Pastoral Associate for Faith Formation at Church of the Resurrection, a community in the city’s Bond Hill neighborhood. For the past five years he’s also served as director of the archdiocesan Office of African-American Ministries.
In the latter role, Deacon Winters’ office “ministers directly to, and advocates for, all the people of the diocese,” he said. “We minister to African Americans and to African families but also to all the people. I visit parishes and speak on various topics: faith formation, evangelization, a deeper relationship with God.”
Deacon Winters retired from police work after a 27-year career during which he also specialized in drug enforcement and forensic polygraph testing. He converted to the Catholic faith in 1975 after he and his wife, Rita, visited the former St. Agnes Church in Bond Hill.
“The liturgy and the mystery really grabbed me,” Deacon Winters said. He was baptized later that year and ordained in 1998.
Church of the Resurrection was established five years ago as a consolidation of St. Agnes and three other parishes: St. Andrew in Avondale, St. Mark in Evanston, and St. Martin de Porres in Lincoln Heights. Managing some of the cross-parish anxieties that arose initially weren’t on the order of a SWAT negotiation, but required diplomacy.
Father Dennis Chriszt, Resurrection pastor since its beginning, helped heal the birth pains of the merger. “People agreed with the closing of parishes, but they thought their parish should be the one that remained,” he recalled.
Father Chriszt described Resurrection as “a rather small parish [about 500 members], predominantly African-American. We’re active in the community. We have two food pantries and a soup kitchen.”
One of the pantries is in Bond Hill; the other’s at the former home of St. Mark’s. “Just because we moved didn’t mean people aren’t still hungry,” Father Chriszt said. (Photo at right is Father Chriszt, left,with Deacon Winters.)
One reflection of parish unity has been its response to One Faith, One Hope, One Love, as Resurrection surpassed its local goal for the campaign. “With One Faith, One Hope, One Love, we have seen great growth in engagement and new vision, because we had done the hard work of engagement and people were prepared for it,” Deacon Winters said.
The campaign also helped on a pastoral level.
“We all learned a lot more about each other,” Father Chriszt said. “There were people I knew from church or saying hello, but I’d never had a half-hour conversation with them. This was an invitation to conversation and that was good.”
Or as Deacon Winters put it: “There’s engagement in doing the work of the Lord.”
See video of Deacon Winters singing “Be Not Afraid” at the funeral of fallen Cincinnati firefighter Daryl Gordon here.
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