SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
Do you have any favorite memories of the farm growing up?
One really cool advantage to growing up on a farm was that usually one day in the spring, maybe two, I would be needed at home for the spring planting, which meant that after Mass every day, I was excused from school. When the rest of the kids were making their way from church to school, my dad would pick me up and I would spend the day working on preparing the fields.
When was the first time you considered the diaconate?
After Jane and I were married, we moved to Kewaskum because the houses were a little cheaper. We joined Holy Trinity Parish and as we became more involved, I became a lector and served on Fr. Berghammer’s steering committee to form their first pastoral council. As Jane and I continued to be active in the parish, “Father B” said, “Jansen (I’m not sure he ever used my first name), you really should look into this deacon thing.” We respected Fr. Berghammer so much but with my schedule at the Sheriff’s Department, I could never commit to weekend formation.
What led to you finally entering into the program?
We moved back to West Bend in 1987. Jane’s cousin, Fr. Jerry Rinzel, was the pastor. The diaconate was still on our mind. Jane invited me to teach CCD with her. I reluctantly agreed, and began to teach with (her) and learn more about service from her. When I retired from the law enforcement in 2002, after encouragement from Fr. Jerry Rinzel and Fr. Jerry Brittain, and with Jane’s encouragement and example, I entered the deacon program and was ordained in 2007
What is your favorite part of the work?
My favorite thing is, of course, the honor of being part of the liturgy but also the interaction with people, and the joy Jane and I share doing weddings and baptisms and meeting folks where they are.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I think the best advice I was ever given was to be a deacon, but above all be yourself. I also like to remember the quote by St. Augustine: “There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future.”
Is there a saint you feel closest to? What is it about his/her life that inspires or motivates you? What do you think the importance is of keeping a saint close to you?
I always feel close to St. Peter, especially in those times when I think my faith is fading a bit and I feel bad about it. I think of St. Peter. In the weakest and darkest time in his faith life, he denied even knowing Jesus, but eventually he turned out OK. He motivates me to do the absolute best I can to never deny Jesus by the way I live.
What’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Sharing a faith life and married life with Jane. Having three awesome kids. Being ordained by then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Doing the marriages for my daughter and her husband (the first marriage I performed) and my son and his wife, and being able to baptize each of our grandkids.
Is there a Gospel reading that has spoken deeply to you lately? Which one is it and why?
I like the Gospel passage that reminds us all of our mission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” I’m also reminded of a statement I heard from Bishop Don Hying that Jesus doesn’t have a Church that he gave a mission to, Jesus has a mission and he gave that mission a Church.
We are called to share the gospel, but that isn’t always easy or comfortable; what advice do you have for those who want to reveal Christ to our broken world but don’t know how to begin?
Pray. Our broken world needs so desperately to hear the good news, and to have Jesus revealed to them. Pray about it, then pray some more. Yes it can be uncomfortable, yes it can be difficult, but somehow the disciples eventually figured it out. Jesus has to be revealed to the world; if not by us, who? If not now, when?
Do you have any hobbies?
I do some running and walking, usually more walking than running. I play some basketball, Pickleball and maybe when things open up a bit more, racquetball. I like sports; I just haven’t found one I’m good at. I also like to get out on my motorcycle as much as the weather permits. The best way to spend time is, of course, with family and watching our grandkids grow up too fast