I always make a point, during baptisms, of reading the Transfiguration of Jesus, according to Luke, to illustrate how God calls each of us for a mission. As Jesus ascends the mountain with Peter and John to pray, both the disciples are stricken with sleep. Moses and Elijah begin talking to Jesus…speaking of his departure “which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”. In other words, Jesus was given permission to fulfill what he had been called by God to do.
And thus, I was called by God while in high school. Your call can come anytime. My parents and I were Methodist and for some reason I began to receive my call from God while attending church—which incidentally was most times an hour and a half each Sunday, which included at least a 30-minute sermon (homily). I had attended Sunday School as well as the full church services when I was attending elementary school and sang in our Cardinal Choir.
My call got stronger as a freshman in college; I had decided to study to become a Methodist pastor. At the same time, I was called to study all the Christian religions; this led to my conversion to Catholicism—I was “hungry” to receive the Seven Sacraments which were not part of the Protestant religions. Then, later in life I received a call to study to become a Permanent Deacon and the rest is history. (We are called Permanent Deacons because we are not studying for ordination as Priests-if we were, we would be ordained as Transitional Deacons since we would move on from the Diaconate to Priesthood.)
And the question I get from others is, “I am active in several ministries, why do I have to become a Permanent Deacon?” My answer is, in 30 years as a Permanent Deacon my ordination has given me back more than I have given. My ordination is for a lifetime—even though I am retired I constantly fill in for our active Deacons for marriage preparation and weddings, funeral preparation and funerals, on the altar during masses and, until recently, I was our parish coordinator for pastoral care.
As an ordained Deacon, I became part of the lives of our spiritual community at St. Margaret Mary, through helping to arrange liturgies for engaged couples and families who have lost a family member. Many is the time when a parishioner will say to me, “You baptized my son or my daughter 20 or 30 years ago and now they are married and have children.” In some families, I have baptized all their children’s children. What a feeling this gives me!!
I don’t want to interfere with God’s call for you; I want to focus you on focusing on your call from God. You might realize by focusing that God is calling you to be a Permanent Deacon. Unfortunately, only men can be ordained Permanent Deacons. However, Pope Francis has formed a committee to study the possibility to women being ordained (there were female Permanent Deacons in early Christian history).
DIOCESE OF JOLIET, OFFICE OF THE DIACONATE:
You must be at least 35 years old to begin studying for the Permanent Diaconate. We expect Application for the 2024 Class to become available on the Diocese of Joliet, Office of Diaconate website in early Sept. 2019. There is a year of applications, interviews, screening, and among men invited for formation, one completes about 4 years of study. Advertising materials will be sent to the parishes publicizing some information/discernment sessions to be held at three (3) different diocesan locations. These will happen in late spring or early summer, 2019. Meanwhile, come talk to us.