Becoming a Deacon: by Deacon Ken Miles

Deacon Ken Miles
Deacon Ken Miles

So, what being a deacon means to me? It means service, it means vulnerability, it means growth, it means a jump into the mystery of God. It means trying, and failing and trying again, to follow Christ's formation and plan for my life. It means washing dishes when dishes need to be washed, it means compassionate listening when there is nothing you can say, it means reaching out to someone in pain that you can not take away, it means trying to be as open, accepting, loving and present as Jesus was, knowing you can’t do it yourself. It means a journey of the greatest, grace filled adventure and growth experience in life. So, how did my journey begin?

Inspiration, faith, anger, action

What causes someone to become a deacon is as varied as the number of deacons, even more so, since it is not usually one thing. My journey was long and difficult, but one of blessings. To be able to serve God’s People is a grace that continues to grow and nourish every part of my being.

I was not brought up with religion and, after almost completing my undergraduate career, I realized that math and science were never going to answer everything. Inspired by the life in a flower, I searched for a faith to practice. I made my First Communion at my wedding ceremony in 1969. After completing graduate studies, we moved to Illinois with our 6 month old daughter, as I started work at Argonne National Laboratory as a Nuclear and Computer Science Engineer for the next 40 years.

Inspiration to Faith

In 1979 our third child and first son was born with a heart defect. He died during heart surgery on December 24, 1979. The People of God gathered around us and held us, but my church, the one I had chosen and joined, failed us. None of the “official clergy”, our longtime priests, ministered to us. We were hurt and angry! This was NOT the way a religious institution should be, so I started my search to becoming a deacon. Maybe I could “officially” represent the Church with greater care and compassion. After a three year search and the diaconal formation, I was ordained on September 14 (Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, most appropriate for us) 1985. I’ve served at St. Margaret Mary ever since. I was able to baptize my youngest daughter the day after I was ordained.

Anger to Action

The Holy Spirit has not guided me to what I thought would be my ministry, but such is the path when we are open to listening to the Spirit, but it has been grace all the way. The Church is certainly no less flawed than ever. It can certainly follow Jesus more closely in welcoming, accepting and affirming the talents of all people, of women and the laity, but its liturgies and history of deep spirituality nourishes and helps me grow each and every day.

The Church needs more dedicated people willing to serve. Being a deacon is a grace-filled way to let Christ live in our workplace, our families, in our modern world.

 

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.

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