The Diaconate: A Life of Service

by Deacon Mike Whitehead

The call to the Permanent Diaconate is centered on one thing –– a ministry of service. Deacons serve the community in many ways, including word, sacrament, charity and pastoral governance. Here are the personal reflections of three of the 32 deacons now serving our diocese.

Deacon Tom Deal:  The Power to Comfort
Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Monroe

After I was ordained, it did not take long before I was called to serve at a funeral. The funeral home called and informed me the family of a 33-year-old man killed in a car accident had requested I do a wake service on Friday, as well as a funeral outside of Mass and graveside rite on Saturday.

Although the timing wasn’t the best for me, I couldn’t say no when they told me the young man had been one of my daughter’s classmates at Jesus the Good Shepherd. When I hung up the phone, I began to pray.

I was overwhelmed by three things –– the power of the Holy Spirit to comfort us; the beauty of our funeral rites; and just how families like this, at times like these, need and rely on their faith and their church.

I can’t tell you what I said in my welcome remarks or in my reflection that day at the wake service, or the next day at the funeral, but the family said it was perfect. Here is the point – it wasn’t me, it was the Holy Spirit.

Deacon Bill Kleinpeter: I Claim You for Christ
St. Joseph Parish, Mansfield & St. Ann Church, Stonewall

I had the privilege to officiate at four baptisms this year. The first was at the Sunday Mass, the second and third were two 6-year-old girls and the fourth was at St. Edmund’s in Lafayette. They were all special to me, but the first and fourth were two of my newest granddaughters, born this year.
After ordination, I began really paying attention to the words that are spoken at Mass and in the sacraments. At Baptism, after the parents and godparents proclaim their willingness of accepting the responsibility of raising the child in his or her faith, the priest or deacon says these awesome words, “My dear children, the Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross.”

I have discovered during the last few years as a deacon that the words in our liturgy have profound beauty and meaning. I challenge each of us to really pay attention at Mass and the sacraments and I will guarantee that you will increase your understanding and appreciation of the Church’s liturgy.

Deacon Jack Lynch: A Crooked Path Made Straight
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Shreveport

In April of this year, I officiated at the wedding of one of my stepdaughters in Texas. Getting her to the altar that spring day was accompanied by a few challenges.

Going to the Engaged Encounter was not a problem, and Sarah’s future husband, Brian, who was raised in a non-denominational church, agreed to be married in the Catholic Church. The next step for them was to go through the Marriage Preparation classes, which they also completed. However, this is where bumps in the road began to occur. The priest who took them through the marriage prep was transferred and also went on sabbatical and could not be reached.

Another priest from another parish had to be contacted in order to complete the paperwork and submit it to the archdiocesan offices in Austin.  A couple of days before the wedding, a package from Austin finally arrived with the necessary documentation. During this time, it was also discovered that Brian did not have a baptismal certificate. So, two weeks before the wedding, Brian attended a church where he was baptized.

The wedding was held at Sacred Heart Church, a historic Czech country church. It was a beautiful ceremony with the groomsmen in their tux tops and blue jeans and the bridesmaids with their lavender chiffon dresses and cowgirl boots.

The Diocese of Shreveport is launching a new formation for Permanent Deacons beginning in September of 2017. For more information on this new formation, please contact Deacon Clary Nash, director, at 318-868-4441, or go to www.dioshpt.org/ministries/permanentdiaconate.

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