Deacon Simmons was a convert, faithful witness
May 20, 2021
As a convert to Catholicism in 2000, Lyle Simmons’ witness of faith yielded good fruit, eventually spawning two religious vocations – his own to the diaconate, and even that of a priest of the archdiocese.
“He was a major influence on my growth in faith and the call to the priesthood,” said Father Padraic Stack, associate pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Omaha.
Deacon Simmons, whose service as a deacon included leading Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes, died April 26 in Omaha. He was 62.
A funeral Mass was held April 30 at his parish church, St. James, with burial at Calvary Cemetery, both in Omaha.
It was during RCIA classes in 2009 at St. James that Father Stack met Deacon Simmons.
“He was a really easy person to talk to, very approachable,” said Father Stack, who was ordained a priest in 2018.
“He became a friend to me right away, and was somebody who was easy to engage and ask questions, recognizing in him, here’s somebody who’s had his own journey, so maybe there’s hope for me,” Father Stack chuckled.
And it was on a Christians Encounter Christ retreat together when Deacon Simmons told him that others on the weekend thought he might have a vocation to the priesthood.
Ordained in 2013 by Archbishop George J. Lucas, Deacon Simmons also served his parish as a lector, member of the parish grounds committee, Christians Encounter Christ group leader and annulment sponsor.
His wife, Jackie, served on the Archdiocesan Review Board and PATH anti-pornography task force. Together the couple also taught faith formation classes and served as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.
“He was a humble servant,” said Father Thomas Weisbecker, St. James pastor, citing Deacon Simmons’ willingness to offer help in any way that might be needed.
“He was an ideal deacon.”