St. Timothy Catholic Church Newsletter — Apr 2023

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Deacon Mike Ryba, Parish Life Director

Immediately following high school, Deacon Mike Ryba began working at a bank in Chicago doing data entry and then programming. After 40 years in the corporate world, he was ready for a change.

“Shortly after my wife, Lisa, and I were married, I turned to her while in church and said that I was going to become a deacon one day,” Deacon Mike says. “I was 25 years old at the time, which is too young for formation, but at the age of 49 when I told her that it was time, she knew exactly what I was talking about.”

On Nov. 29, 2022, Deacon Mike became the Parish Life Director at St. Timothy after first hearing about the opportunity through a fellow deacon while attending the annual Deacon Retreat at the Bethany Center.

“He told us they were having their Fall Festival the next day, so Lisa and I came by to show our support and were given a tour of the campus,” Deacon Mike says. “We fell in love with the campus itself as well as the variety of ministries they had to offer.”

At the time, Deacon Mike was a parishioner at St. Stephen in Riverview and a deacon there. Since a deacon’s obedience is to the bishop and the diocese, Deacon Mike petitioned to have his canonical assignment moved to St. Timothy.

“I had the option of staying at St. Stephen and doing liturgical and sacramental

April/May 2023

3 A Letter From Our Pastor

4 Liturgical Environment Committee Guiding Us on the Journey Through the Seasons of the Church

6 The Importance of Catholic Faith Formation

7 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Accompanying New Catholics on their Journey into the Faith

17512 Lakeshore Rd. Lutz, FL 33558 Living the Mission
“I Love To Serve”
In this
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St. Timothy’s Deacon Mike Ryba and Lisa Ryba

Deacon Mike Ryba, Parish Life Director

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responsibilities or petitioning the bishop who can move deacons according to needs,” Deacon Mike says.

As St. Timothy’s Parish Life Director, Deacon Mike assists the pastor with assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating, as well as oversight and coordination for all parish ministries and supervision of staff. He works with the pastor to provide pastoral support for the mission of the parish.

“This position is about being present for parishioners and sharing my faith life in helping them build a deeper relationship with the Lord,” Deacon Mike says. “I assist where I can, whether that’s a family need or financial need. My goal is to be a servant and that is what I truly love doing.”

Over the past months, Deacon Mike has found his position very rewarding. In fact, now he believes that he doesn’t have a job — he has a vocation.

“It feels like I’m where I always needed to be, and it’s great to get up in the morning and be excited to go to work,” Deacon Mike says. “The roles of Parish Life Director and deacon flow well together, and I truly am a deacon all the time.”

Lisa also supports her husband in several ways, including helping him balance life at home and work at the parish. They have open dialogue and work together as a “deacon couple.”

“St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is one of our favorite saints, and we try as best as we can to emulate her in ‘doing small things with great love,’” Deacon Mike says. “I pray that St. Tim’s will come to know that even when we are doing small things, we are doing so with all of the love we can give — not only to the parish but, most importantly, to the Lord.”

As many parishioners may already know, Deacon Mike is a big sports fan and played hockey in high school and later in men’s leagues.

“I grew up a Blackhawks fan, but since moving to Tampa, I can say I am a Lightning fan, although I still cheer for the Hawks,” Deacon Mike says. “If there is a sport on TV, I am probably watching it. I also enjoy reading, playing golf, listening to music, going to the movies with my wife, and hosting parties at our home.”

Deacon Mike and Lisa are very excited to be part of St. Timothy’s community and are thankful for all the support they have received so far.

“After 40-plus years in the corporate environment, it is refreshing to work among people who share the same faith, values, and morals,” Deacon Mike says. “Helping others to grow in their faith and serve the Lord inspires me each day. I love to serve, which is at the heart of being a deacon, and this role allows me to do it at an even greater level every day.”

“Helping others to grow in their faith and serve the Lord inspires me each day. I love to serve, which is at the heart of being a deacon, and this role allows me to do it at an even greater level every day.”
— Deacon Mike Ryba

The Easter Message Is the Foundation of Our Stewardship

Dear Friends in Christ,

How do you feel at the end of the Palm Sunday Mass each year? Have you ever noticed the abrupt shift of tone during that liturgy? It begins with great joy, as we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to the acclamation of the crowds. But then the mood swings to sorrow when the passion Gospel is read, for we hear those same crowds shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” a few days later.

Palm Sunday, of course, begins Holy Week, the most important week in the Christian year. The confusion of conflicting moods is spread through the week, especially during the Easter Triduum from sundown Holy Thursday to sundown Easter Sunday.

Holy Thursday offers us the glorious Mass of the Lord’s Supper celebrating the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood before we pass to the sadness of the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The next day brings us the Good Friday Liturgy of the passion with our recognition of what our sins did to the Incarnate Son of God. Then, after a day of waiting as we mourn Jesus’ burial

Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life” (654).

In other words, Christ’s Resurrection is the source of our own future resurrection. St. Paul wrote about it to the Romans — “For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection” (Romans 6:5).

Eternal life in union with Christ — a hope for a new life beginning now and extending on into heaven — is the result of Jesus’ Resurrection. What greater grounds for thanksgiving can there be than this Easter hope? We should be filled with joy about this promise from God!

And how do we show our joy and our gratitude to God for this amazing gift He has given us? We join in sacred worship and praise God. We share the Good News of Jesus’ victory over death with our family, friend,s and neighbors. And we offer back to the Lord a portion of the time, talent, and treasure He has entrusted to us. Yes, the Easter message that we share in the benefits of Christ’s Resurrection is the ultimate foundation for all Christian stewardship.

A Letter From Our Pastor

Liturgical Environment Guiding Us on the Journey Through

Throughout the year, the Catholic Church passes through many different liturgical seasons. Each season can be identified by the different readings and Scripture passages that are proclaimed during Mass, the priests’ different color vestments, the different types of music that are sung, and the different types of flowers and decorations that adorn the church.

Each element helps set the tone for the particular liturgical season into which the Church has entered, and they each help create an environment for spiritual growth and prayer throughout the year. Diane Tousignant, Co-Chair of the Liturgical Environment Ministry, knows how some well-placed flowers and décor can help lift our eyes and hearts toward God.

“Liturgical decorations are used to foster a mood, sometimes of festivity (Christmas and Easter) and at other times of penitence (Lent) or anticipation (Advent), but always of dignity and hospitality,” Diane says. “The decorations we use are to help enhance the atmosphere of our church for the celebration of the liturgy that takes place at every Mass and to remember and live the life and mystery of Christ that our Catholic Church celebrates throughout the year.”

The Liturgical Environment Committee at St. Timothy aims to utilize art and decorative mediums during specific seasons of the Church year, encouraging reverence and appreciation for the different seasons as we journey through them.

The committee sets up and takes down decorations in the Main Sanctuary, the Holy Family Chapel, Narthex,

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“The church itself is the house of God and it is here that heaven touches earth in every Mass. Being able to decorate God’s house is to give Him the glory, praise and thanksgiving that He deserves.”
— Diane Tousignant
Easter flowers reflecting the joy of the season Lent decorations arranged with care

Environment Committee Through the Seasons of the Church

Adoration Chapel, and Parish Center. Committee members are responsible for the flowers and plants that are used seasonally, the placement, and watering/caring for the flowers.

“My Catholic faith has always been a very important part of my life,” Diane says. “The church itself is the house of God and it is here that heaven touches earth in every Mass. Being able to decorate God’s house is to give Him the glory, praise, and thanksgiving that He deserves.”

Diane believes that ministry members grow in their own faith and spirituality because they receive a new appreciation for the work that is involved to create a beautiful worship space.

“Their hearts are lifted up to the God we glorify with every little act they perform in transforming our church each season,” Diane says.

The Liturgical Environment Committee is always accepting new members. Those who have artistic abilities and flower arranging/design skills are welcome. However, many of their displays are set up based on pictures from previous years, so no formal training is necessary. The committee could also use help moving, packing, and storing materials, as well as watering and caring for the plants. No task is too small and they would love to have your help!

If you are interested in joining or have questions please contact Diane Tousignant at

Daria Magee and Diane Tousignant with the Nativity scene for Christmas Poinsettias arranged for Christmas

The Importance of Catholic Faith Formation

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the 2022 book, Stewardship Starts at Home: Using God’s Gifts To Grow As Disciples Of Christ In Our Domestic Church, written by stewardship expert/retreat leader Lisa McArdle and published by Catholic Stewardship Consultants. This excerpt is reprinted with permission from CSC.

There are Four Pillars of a Stewardship Parish — Prayer, Hospitality, Formation, and Service. The third pillar — Formation — teaches us to know and love our God and our faith.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis (2005, #20), there are six tasks of faith formation that constitute a unified whole by which faith formation seeks to achieve its objective. This primary objective is the formation of disciples of Jesus Christ.

The six tasks of formation promote knowledge of the faith, promote knowledge of the meaning of the liturgy and the sacraments, promote moral formation in Jesus Christ, teach us how to pray, prepare one to live in community, and participate actively in the life of the Church, and promote a missionary spirit that prepares one to be present as Christians in society.

Take a moment to consider how fully you are currently formed. When is the last time you read a book about the Catholic faith? When is the last time you participated in a Bible study? When is the last time you read and reflected on the readings before Mass? Or looked up something in the Catechism?

Frequently, the last faith formation parishioners receive dates back to when they completed their Confirmation preparation or attended their last religious formation class as a middle or high school student.

This means decades may have gone by since parishioners and family members have experienced formation.

If that is the last time that you have formed yourself or that members of your families have formed themselves, don’t panic. You are not alone.

This realization is an opportunity for growth. A chance to dip your toe back in the water of faith formation and even to learn alongside the members of your family, including the youngest members who are also learning. Don’t ever feel embarrassed that you don’t know an answer to the faith

questions asked to you by your children or grandchildren. Instead, learn together!

Remember, the more fully you are formed, the better you will understand God’s calling for your family. Furthermore, the more you are formed in the faith the easier it will be to answer the call of discipleship.

Being properly formed in our faith and listening to God’s call allows us to understand if we are on the right path or if we need to redirect. Being prayerful and well-formed are key to our following His plan for our lives instead of our own wishes and desires. Remember, as stewards, we strive to listen to God and use the gifts He has given us to serve those he places in our paths. Thankfully, it is easier now more than ever to form ourselves and our families.

There is no need to search for faith-formation opportunities. These options can be sent directly to our smartphones and tablets. Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire ministry sends free daily readings along with a brief gospel reflection straight to our inboxes. Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic offers Lenten and Advent opportunities with free, reflective videos that also arrive via email. Blessed is She even provides an endearing female faith formation perspective — perfect for women young and old. Plus, if you want to form yourself specifically in Scripture, you can also opt for the free podcast, The Bible in a Year featuring the entertaining Fr. Mike Schmitz, from Ascension Presents. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.

Formation is the fuel that keeps your family moving forward as stewards and in becoming all that Christ is calling you to be. Have confidence as you incorporate this ongoing learning into your daily routines.

To find out more about the Stewardship Starts at Home book visit

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Accompanying New Catholics on Their Journey into the Faith

There’s certainly a beauty to being raised in the Catholic Church and continuing to practice the faith into adulthood. But there’s also profound beauty in finding the Catholic faith as an adult and going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA, process. This April, several participants in our RCIA process will become fully initiated into the Catholic faith.

St. Timothy’s RCIA process is flexible, says Joseph Nieves-Serrano, Director of Faith Formation. Students meet all year, every Sunday after 9 a.m. Mass. There is a dedicated group of potential sponsors who step up to serve when needed, attending each class with the students.

“It starts with where they are and creates space for questions,” Joseph says. “When they are ready, they move to catechumenate, where we introduce them to the Mass, readings, and Bible study.”

Joseph has worked with the RCIA process at other parishes in the past. He’s continually impressed by the committed group at St. Timothy’s that supports this ministry. There are about 10 catechists, so RCIA students can be in separate groups based on where they are in the journey.

“This is a journey — that’s what I want them to know,” Joseph says. “It’s a process to become Catholic. There are different stages, and there is no rush to this.”

On Jan. 8, we celebrated the Rite of Welcoming alongside RCIA students who have already been baptized and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Please pray for them as they prepare to become fully-initiated Catholics.

Getting to Know Our RCIA Participants:

Jacalyn Sloop recently enrolled in RCIA and says she has felt very welcome at St. Timothy’s.

“Attending Mass has provided much more peace to my soul than I ever imagined possible,” she says.

Jacalyn came to the faith while studying high-level math in college. She realized what she was learning could not have come together by coincidence.

Saleena Niehaus is excited to be going through RCIA. After watching along with her husband as their two daughters were baptized, she decided she wanted the same for herself. Saleena and her family have felt very at home here.

“Over the past several months, I have found the process informative, teaching the important lessons behind what makes the Catholic Church unique,” she says. “Everyone I have encountered within the program

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17512 Lakeshore Road

Lutz, FL 33558


Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

continued from page 7 has encouraged me to ask questions, and I never feel embarrassed for not knowing something.”

“My ultimate goal is to one day walk up to the altar with my arms uncrossed, fully embracing my spirituality and my journey of faith,” she says.

Nicole Suarez

Nicole Suarez was baptized Catholic in Colombia, but she was never confirmed. Nicole left a Mass this summer with feelings of relief, peace, anguish, and uncertainty.

Due to a desire to make the bad feelings go away, she enrolled in RCIA, and it’s made such an impact on her spiritual journey. She is committed to being confirmed in the Catholic faith.

Josh Funderburk

Josh Funderburk calls his RCIA journey “wonderful.” Attending classes has felt like coming home.

“I’ve never felt like an outsider,” he says. “No discussion has been off-limits, and all questions have been entertained. It has been a great introduction to the Christian faith through the lens of Catholicism and all of the sacraments and mysteries of the Catholic Church.”

RCIA is open to anyone — the baptized and non-baptized. If you were never confirmed, you are also welcome. Contact Joseph Nieves-Serrano at or 813-961-1716, ext. 231 for more information.

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