On September 9, four candidates for the diaconate were installed at the 5:30 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our lady of Perpetual Help, by Bishop Robert Gruss.
The candidates have completed a year of Aspirancy, which is “primarily a time to discern the capability and readiness of an aspirant to be nominated to the bishop for acceptance as a candidate for diaconal ordination” (National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the United States, USCCB).
The next step in their formation is the Rite of Admission. The rite is celebrated when, “it has been established that the intention of those aspiring to Holy Orders is supported by the necessary qualifications and has achieved sufficient maturity” (Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders).
As they continue through the next three years of the program, there are additional rites for institution of lectors and acolytes before ordination as a permanent deacon.
The four men recently spoke to the West River Catholic about themselves and what has led them to discern the diaconate.
Home Parish: St. Therese the Little Flower, Rapid City
Family: Wife Rita; children: Deseree, Danielle, Lisa, Bobby, and Ralph; 8 grandchildren
Church Involvement: CCD and confirmation teacher, active in TEC, usher, Knights of Columbus, homebound ministry, Commissioned Lay Minister, Lector, and Eucharistic minister
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? St. Ignatius and his teachings and writings have taught me that there are times of spiritual desolation and how to handle those times.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? At Mass one day, 17 years ago, I felt a calling. I fought it at first but it got too strong so I talked to Rita about it and we talked to our parish priest. We had small children at the time and he suggested we wait. We were patient and waited but the voices never went away. I searched out (the late) Sister Marie Schwan, CSJ, and she guided us to the lay ministry program which led to this.
Home Parish: St. Therese the Little Flower, Rapid City
Work: Business owner
Family: Wife Natalie; two children: Mackenzie and Ashley; and three grandchildren
Church involvement: Commissioned Lay, Minister, Eucharistic minister, lector, and active in the Cursillo movement and TEC youth program.
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? When we were in the Air Force in California, Saint John Paul II came to visit Universal Studios for a youth conference. Natalie was teaching at a Catholic High School at the time so we got to chaperone the event. It was electrifying. Our faith and our spiritual life also really grew in the lay ministry program.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? I had several spiritual experiences that led me to the diaconate. My wife’s and my spiritual formation intensified through the lay ministry program and we have a strong desire to serve the Catholic community.
Home Parish: Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City
Work: B-1 Simulator Training and Support Engineer and TRU Simulation + Training, Inc.
Family: Wife Mary Helen; three children: Charles, Catherine, and Joseph; and two grandchildren
Church involvement: Lector, Eucharistic minister, volunteer with Joy-Filled Marriage and Heart-to-Heart retreats, and VSI certified (Basic and Master certification)
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? Mary, Mother of God. As a convert, I did not have a devotion to Mary until I was married and had a family. I was called to pray the Rosary daily when my family came under stress from my military career. I have received many blessings through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. She has helped to strengthen our marriage and protect our children as they ventured out into the world.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? I feel called to serve the Lord, and the permanent diaconate seems to be where God is directing me. My wife and I have discussed the possibility of the permanent diaconate for a number of years, but for a variety of reasons, it never seemed to be the right time to pursue this. When Aspirancy was announced, we felt it was the right time to respond to the Lord’s gentle prodding and pursue the possibility of service as a permanent deacon.
Home Parish: Christ the King, Porcupine
Work: Full-time National Guard
Family: Wife Terri; children: Jared, Sarah, Breanna, Audrey, Billie; 17 grandchildren
Church Involvement: Lector, Eucharistic minister, parish council, wake team, confirmation, currently the part-time pastoral coordinator for Christ the King
What is one church influence (saint, teaching, book) that has made an impression on you? Why/how? The clergy have always inspired me. Deacon James “Heavy” Garnett used to always kid around with us. The church we were going to would have Mass every other Sunday so we would go to St. Isaac Jogues every other week and he would say, “I was wondering if you were still Catholic!” He didn’t live a perfect life, just like I haven’t, and that was a great example.
Why did you decide to begin the process of becoming a deacon? It was a calling. A few years ago I went to the Rapid City Diocese website and found the Canku Wakan retreat and signed up for it. That led to more and more involvement and then to the deacon Aspirancy program.