Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Greetings from Cold Lake! It is exciting to be able to write that vs greeting you from Edmonton. I’m currently on my “Reading Week” break. For some schools, this is a nice mid-term vacation. For others, it’s a week of studies and homework. Unfortunately I’m in the latter group, so I’m working away at getting a paper on St. Francis de Sales completed!
This last month was mostly school, school, and more school. We wrapped up our first ‘Church History’ course for the diaconate, and started a second history course. We also had our second formation session of the year. I was assigned ‘baptism’, so I had to prepare a baptism outside of the Mass liturgy, complete with homily. It was my second homily I had written, and I THINK there was improvement over the first. My other brothers in the program were assigned Sunday Celebration of the Word, Marriage, and Funeral. In then next two formation sessions we are assigned a different rite, so we get practice on 3 of the 4 main rites we will preside over.
I also made a trip to St. Paul to attend Father Jestoni’s ordination to the priesthood. Thanks be to God, we have another priest in the diocese! I also had the honour of serving as Acolyte for Archbishop Richard, who celebrated a Mass for us at Newman Theological College. We had our fall programming meeting for Camp St. Louis, I came home to attend the Assumption Reunion (thanks to all those who planned the event, it was great!), did some adult server training, and served at the Anniversary Mass and Church Dedication in Mallaig,
The next month will be focused on 3 big papers which I have to write. One is on St. Francis de Sales (noted above). The other is on St. Anselm’s “Cur Dues Homo’. The final one is on a theme in the Gospel of John (I haven’t chosen the theme yet).
One thing I’ve been asked a fair bit is what the life of a deacon is like. So, I thought this month I would do a quick breakdown of a “Day in the life of a deacon”. These are not in order of priority, but I’ve ordered them to make sense of a typical day. I also use the term “we”. While not yet ordained a deacon, our formation process gradually configures our lives to that which we will live after ordaination. So, you will see many of the same characteristics in a candidates daily life as you will see in an ordained deacons life.
-First is sleep. 8 hours of sleep. Have to keep you mind and body health. That leaves 16 hours.
-Next is work. 8 hours a day for our day jobs. Deacon’s are responsible for maintaining their own employment, as they are not paid for their ministry in the Church. I am unique in that I also have a day job for the Church. Most of our North American deacon’s are retired, with the others having jobs in almost every field. In my cohort, Mitch is a welder, Greg worked for many years as the facilities manager for a school division, and Jose is an engineer in the oil sands. That leaves us 8 hours left in the day.
-In our remaining 8 hours, we juggle our ministry and family life. Our families come first. Bishop Paul is wonderful in that he makes it very clear that they are our first priority. So, this time is for our spousal and parental duties. Many of our deacons are also grandparents. This is where Anna, Aspen and I try to blend ministry with family. We do ministry together, to give us more time together!
-For ministry (which in order of priority comes after our family AND after maintaining our employment), we are first nourished by the sacraments. We are encouraged (and most of us do) attend Mass daily. We are also required by Canon Law to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. While priests and bishops are required to pray the full office, we are only required to pray morning and evening prayer. Next, we are nourished by scripture. Either through our studies, preparing homilies, lectio divina, praying the liturgy of the hours, attending Mass, or simply “reading the bible”, we must constantly nourish ourselves with Scripture. Then we have our ministries. What we see of our deacons at the Mass (and other liturgical rites such as marriage, funerals, baptisms) is typically only a small portion of their ministries. Jose is heavily involved in Couples for Christ, and spends a lot of time travelling as a missionary to the various First Nations communities around Fort McMurray. Greg is very involved in Eucharistic Adoration, assists on many building and renovation projects for the diocese, and often travels to the outlying parishes to assist. Mitch teaches Bible Study, visits those in seniors homes and assists in various diocesan projects. Deacons are typically on many parish committees, involved in sacramental preparation, do hospital visits, work in the food banks, etc. The deacon is called to service/charity, typically in the fringes (often where our priests simply don’t have the time to go). When you do the math (1.5 hours per day for Mass and prayer, 1.5 hours for meals with family, etc), there isn’t much time to juggle ministry and family. Yet, that is why our deacons are ordained. They are configured to Christ through the imposition of hands and the prayer of consecration, and it is God’s grace that allows them to successfully conduct their ministry! That, and very understanding wives and children!
Please continue to pray for me, just as I always pray for you!
God bless you and keep you safe!