Deacon Smith dies

Deacon Earl A. Smith, one of the first African-American deacons ordained to the permanent diaconate in the United States, died Sept. 10. He was 91. A funeral Mass will be offered Sept. 18 at St. Edward in Baltimore – Deacon Smith’s home parish and the faith community where he ministered as a deacon.
In a 1982 interview with The Catholic Review, Deacon Smith said much of his ministry was a cooperative effort with two other St. Edward deacons, Deacon Bernard Joseph and Deacon Joseph Neale. Together, the trio reached out to others by visiting shut-ins, hospitals and nursing homes, distributed food and clothing to those in need and taught religious education classes. They also proclaimed the Gospel, gave homilies, performed baptisms and witnessed weddings.
“What we do is a two-way street,” said Deacon Smith, who also was part-time coordinator of Catholic health ministry at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore. “We get help from the people as much as we give help. The commitment keeps you in tune with what you’re doing and takes you out of yourself to go beyond your own concerns.”
Deacon Smith was ordained in 1972 and was a member of the second class of deacons ordained in the Baltimore archdiocese. The former accountant retired from active ministry in 1995.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Smith.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.