My desire to become a deacon was powerful, and constant. I felt called to it since I came to the Church though the RCIA process. I will not say that I have not had doubts, or times of confusion, but for some reason I always knew that my path would end here. This is my vocation.
To be honest, I knew it well before I ever even became Catholic. I remember telling my lovely bride, “If I only knew what the truth was, I would follow it with every ounce of my strength.” I meant it, and when Christ brought me to the Catholic Church, and I knew it to be the truth. I knew I was called to share that truth with everyone Christ would put in my path.
Is that not the call of a deacon? To bring the gospel with him everywhere he goes? To take the gospel to the poor, the young, the elderly and everyone in between? This is most certainly the vocation I feel, and while I recognize that everyone has the call to evangelization, my call just feels, well, more formal.
As I went through the process, I always remembered to keep in mind that though I felt called, that was not enough, the call goes both ways. I had to feel called, yes, but the Church to had to know it was called to ordain me as well. I knew that at any moment, the bishop could decide that my call was not a true one, and that regardless of my personal feelings, I needed the Church to ratify my vocation to the diaconate. This is truly such a great blessing. It is so easy to get caught up in our own emotions, but to know for certain, to have the Church, through the bishop, let you know you are indeed called gives you such peace. I knew at every step that if I were removed from formation, that it would be God’s will, and that was a great comfort.
There are a few big reasons why I felt the need to pursue the diaconate. First, I felt called to work with and share my life with the underprivileged.
In the book of Acts, the apostles were so busy, they did not have the time to work with the widows, with the young, or the elderly. They loved the poor, but simply were frustrated by a lack of time. Is that not the case now? Our priests are so few and so overworked that they can hardly keep their own schedules. Gone are the days when there were three priests to a parish, and the priests left simply cannot teach every RCIA class, visit every rest home, or work in every soup kitchen. The apostles solved this problem by creating the diaconate. At just the right time, the Church has called them back into service. I feel that call.
I also feel the need to teach. Of the many blessings the Lord has given me, one is a loud voice. (My wife constantly reminds me how full of hot air I really am!) In all seriousness though, the Gospel needs to be preached boldly. Our world is falling under the frustrations of a culture that actively promotes sin, and this must be fought by the faithful. I feel that call too, and live that in my working vocation too, as a theology teacher.
Lastly, the church needs Men. Yes, I capitalized men. As I look through parishes, I constantly see women outnumbering men in the pews 2 to 1. It is a scary thing to think that the search for truth, and life in Christ is thought of as a feminine thing. It is of course feminine, but it is equally masculine. The church needs bold men. I may not be as bold as I wish, but I am at least loud.
In short, I feel called to wash feet. It’s a dirty job, but it must be done.