Vocations View: My Blessings in the Diaconate

Deacon Bill Roche and Deacon Larry Mills carry in the oil for Chrism Mass.

by Deacon Bill Roche

When I was a youngster, I thought about the priesthood, but being a priest was never a serious consideration after I entered high school. I never expected to be ordained.

So admittedly, I was a bit surprised when I felt a calling to the permanent diaconate about 16 years ago. I believe that God was calling me to step out of my comfort zone and embark on a new part of the journey I had been traveling throughout my life. It was a dramatic change – one that has been very good for me personally. I believe I am a better person than I was 16 years ago, but I am still a work in progress.

I was ordained in May of 2005. I was hired as the Director of Faith Formation at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Shreveport in December of that year. I count among the many blessings of my ministry and job that I have gotten to know so many kind and caring people.

My many blessings include:
• The ACTS ministry (first adopted by St. Joseph in 2011) has been a great experience and has helped the parish.

• Through a small men’s prayer and spiritual development group, I have been able to form and develop great friendships, as well as challenge my prayer life.
It has been very fulfilling to be a part of people’s faith journeys through RCIA.

Like all Catholic Christians, deacons are called to holiness. As ordained persons, we have to be visible and prayerful. Yet, as servants, we need to be on the sidelines or behind the scenes.  We stand front and center when we baptize, officiate at weddings, proclaim the Gospel and preach, but it’s not about us. At Mass, we stand next to the priest. However, we are as much in awe of the liturgy of the Eucharist as every faith-filled person in the pews.

We may be preaching, but the message is also one that we need to hear.

God surprises me frequently, usually by the people He puts in my path. If I seem to be helping someone, I am growing through that encounter, so I am also being helped. When I seek help, there are people who are more inclined to open their doors for me because of my ordination. The diaconate has truly been a win-win situation.

Diaconate FAQ

Q: Who is a deacon?  
A: A deacon is an ordained minister of the Catholic Church. A deacon, in virtue of his sacramental ordination and through his various ministries, is to be a servant in a servant-Church.

Q: What are the various ministries of the deacon?  
A: As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach and teach in the name of the Church. As ministers of sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs.

Q: May married men be deacons?  
A: Yes. The Second Vatican Council decreed that the diaconate, when it was restored as a permanent order in the hierarchy, could be opened to “mature married men,” later clarified to mean men over the age of 35. While a married man may be ordained, an ordained man, if his wife should die, may not marry again without special permission.

Q: How do I find out more about becoming a deacon?  
A: The best place to start is with your pastor, who can put you in touch with Deacon Clary Nash, Director of the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Shreveport by calling 318-868-4441, or cnash@dioshpt.org.

Article adapted from nccbuscc.org/deacon

The Diocese of Shreveport is planning to begin a new formation for the permanent diaconate beginning September 2017. The deadline for inquiries into the new formation is April 3. For more information, contact Deacon Clary Nash, formation director, at 318-868-4441, or at cnash@dioshpt.org.

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