Several years ago, on a Thursday afternoon, I called a meeting of three of my colleagues to my office. About half way into the meeting, I received a call from our pastor at the time, Fr. Bill O’Shea. He started out by saying: “Is this a good time?” Before I had a chance to answer, he asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a deacon. He said: “I asked around the parish and a couple of people thought you’d be good, and I think you’d be good, too.” At this point my colleagues sitting across from me were getting a little restless… I told Fr. Bill I had given it a little thought but that I was in the middle of a meeting and I’d get back to him. “When do you need to know?” He said: “I need to know by tomorrow afternoon. The director of the diaconate program has just one more slot open, and he’s closing the enrollment at 5:00 pm tomorrow.” I told him I’d think about it and call him back tomorrow.
I finished my meeting in a hurry, shut my office door and just sat there, stunned, baffled and angry. “He had a lot of nerve calling me at work,” I thought. That evening when I told my wife about the intrusive phone call from our pastor, she said: “He knows you would be a good deacon, and I agree with him. I think you should call him back and tell him you’ll give it a try. You’ve always been involved in church work and ministry, and I think the diaconate will provide you with a path to serve in other ways. You should do it, and I’ll support you in whatever it takes.”
I did call him and told him I’d give it a “shot”. Four years later, Fr. Bill placed the deacon’s stole over my right shoulder at my ordination at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. During that four-year formation period there were times that I wondered why I said “yes”. I knew that lay men and women can do ministry without becoming a deacon. “What’s the point?” They said that there were “graces” that come with ordination and that “the Spirit of God will create in your words and actions that you would not be able to say and do on your own.” That sounded a little spooky at the time, but it’s true! Over the course of 18 years, I’ve been called upon to do many things and be for many people what I could never have done or have been on my own. I’m still just the guy from the South Side, son of a railroad switchman, voted by his 8th grade class to be the most likely to become a CTA bus driver – actually, a big responsibility!
A fellow parishioner said: “But you already have five deacons here, and I’m just not worthy……”. My answer was, “One deacon is retired, one travels for work 90% of the time and, while I love what I do, I’m 78. As for worthiness ~ the Apostles were hardly sterling. Whether you’ve been hit by a thunderbolt, received an invitation at work, or have just been gently nudged to consider the diaconate, talk to one of the deacons, Fr. Paul, or give me a call: 630-853-7287. We would love to talk with you!
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.