How would you describe your relationship with Jesus throughout your life?
As a child, I loved receiving the Sacraments and going to church. Like many people of my generation, I stopped going to Mass regularly during my college years. After the death of my grandmother, who was the most saintly person I knew, I started a slow and gradual process, coming back to regularly practice the faith. Eventually this process turned into a desire to not just get reacquainted with Christ but to become truly devoted to him and dive deeper and deeper into my faith.
How have you practiced your faith to this point?
The primary way I practice my faith has always been focused on the Mass. We went as a family every Saturday or Sunday (even on vacations), and I loved the sights, sounds and smells of the Church celebrating its most sacred liturgy. I particularly loved the Easter Triduum, as to me it is the fullest expression of what it is to celebrate the Mass. As soon as I was eligible to become an altar server at St. John’s, I signed up, and remained one until I left for college. I feel like this ministry prepared me for the diaconate, as I really wanted to serve more and more.
How did your discernment to become a deacon come about?
During and after college, my faith and my relationship with Christ was not a priority. After I got married, I started to do more research on the Catholic faith, and as I grew in understanding, I felt called to do more. I went to the Inheritance Conference put on by Brew City Catholic, and it changed my life. At the conference, the Archdiocese Office for Diaconate Formation had a table, and the reps there told me I was the right age to start formation. Later that year, we had a men’s retreat led by our deacon, Dcn. Steve Kramer. He asked me afterwards if I was interested in becoming a deacon. It took some time to convince my wife to try and see, as we were a young family, and we knew it would be difficult to balance everything. We eventually decided together to give it a try, and take it year by year, knowing that we could discern out if we didn’t think it was our calling. Three years later, we are happily looking forward to this ministry.
What has the process been like?
The process is designed to really stretch you and form you into a deacon. I told myself after college that I would never ever write another term paper so long as I lived. God has a sense of humor because I am writing more now than I ever have. I approached it initially thinking that it was just “deacon school” and that it would focus only on the practical aspects of being a deacon like preaching, liturgy, Bible studies, etc. It really is a program that changes you and challenges you to become a servant in many ways.
Did anything about it surprise you?
What surprised me most was just how much community is involved in the formation process. The staff, my fellow candidates and their wives have become good friends of ours. It’s a second family; you share in each other’s joys and triumphs, as well as sorrows and sufferings. You really get a sense that even though each man is working out his own discernment and formation, you are in this together and here to help each other become deacons.
What is something that inspires you?
The lives of the saints, particularly the martyrs. My favorite saint is St. Maximillian Kolbe because his story is so striking. Even though I have heard his story time and time again, I still feel a gut reaction thinking about his decision to sacrifice his life for his fellow inmate at Auschwitz. I pray that I may never have to make that decision, but I also pray that I follow his example to sacrifice my life in service to others in my day-to-day life.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received or given?
My mother always said, “you get what you get and don’t throw a fit.” It’s been a guiding principle of my life. We don’t always get what we want, but God always gives us what we need. Be patient and thankful for what you have.
What book are you reading?
Something for class, probably. The last book I read for my own enjoyment was “The Power of Silence” by Robert Cardinal Sarah.
It’s a tossup between “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The 10 Commandments” and Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”
Winter or summer? Why?
Summer. I live for golf, warm summer nights hanging out with our neighbors outside and camping.
A series of discernment sessions will be held this fall for men — and their wives if they are married — interested in finding out more about becoming a deacon. For details, visit www.archmil.org/Diaconate.