Sunday, July 14, 2013

One Call to Serve Comes to an End to Prepare for Another

Two years ago during an information meeting regarding the Permanent Diaconate Juanita and I learned that a candidate in the formation program is required to cease all ministry work within their parish.  They are not to continue to serve on any councils, to serve as a lector, an usher, an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, etc.,  The reason for this is to allow the candidate to focus their mind and efforts on formation.  I suspect that this aspect of formation will be covered in an upcoming Apirancy Retreat and Orientation.  With that in mind, today could have be my last time serving as a Reader for a while.  

This "restriction" seems counter intuitive, considering a main aspect about being a deacon is serving, but I am certain there are good reasons for this.  In the meantime, Juanita and I will join the other members of St. Fabian and celebrate the Eucharist.

In further preparation for our upcoming retreat and orientation, which runs from a Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, Juanita and I visited a number of dog boarding facilities.  We are having to deal with boarding our 7 year old Chocolate Lab, Deacon, for the first time in many years.  Juanita is rightfully particular about where Deacon will stay because she spends a tremendous amount of time and energy keeping his allergies under control.  This includes preventing skin infections by giving Deacon weekly baths and allergy shots.  It can be a thankless job until someone tells her how beautiful Deacon's coat is, or that they would be hard pressed to tell he had allergies.

As for the Formation Program itself, here is some information provided by the Archdiocese of Detroit.  As noted in an earlier post, I have been accepted into the aspirancy year of formation.
Admission into formation occurs through two distinct but unified processes: Acceptance into the aspirant path and admittance into the candidate path in diaconal formation.  With the acceptance of the applicant into aspirant formation, the admission process continues with an assessment of readiness for entrance into the candidate path in formation.  This phase of discernment extends throughout the entire aspirant formation process, thereby allowing ample opportunity for personal observations, dialog, interview, and additional assessment of each aspirant.
The path to ordination is a four year process where the expectation to complete the aspirant path is one (1) year and the expectation to complete the candidate path is three (3) years.  In addition to academic studies, the formation program is composed of a variety of components: Formation Days, Field Ministry, Retreats, Spiritual Direction, Mentoring, and participation in a variety of Archdiocesan functions.  All are essential in the formation of the whole individual and as such, active participation is mandatory.  (Archdiocese of Detroit Office of the Permanent Diaconate "The Discernment of the Call, An Inquirer's Guide for Men Discerning the Call to the Permanent Diaconate, p. 25)

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Nearly 30 years ago I received acceptance to my first vocation as a husband when I asked Juanita to marry me and she said "Yes!"  Our year-long engagement helped us prepare not only for the wedding, but more importantly, life together as husband and wife.  It would be foolish to say that our lengthy engagement (it certainly seemed lengthy at the time) prepared us for everything a married couple might face together, but in retrospect, it was time well spent.

Yesterday, I received a "Yes" to a possible second vocation, that of a Permanent Deacon.  Technically, as the letter from the Office for Clergy and Consecrated Life for the Archdiocese of Detroit states, I "have been accepted into the Aspirancy year of formation for the Permanent Diaconate."

 To say this "Yes" is a bit more formal than Juanita's "Yes" to my proposal for marriage would be an understatement.  Regardless, similar to Juanita's acceptance, this acceptance starts what could be a four-year engagement.  God willing, the engagement would culminate in a Sacrament similar to the Sacrament of Marriage, that being the Sacrament of Holy Orders - Ordination as a Permanent Deacon.  

While in the end I alone (in a manner of speaking) would receive this Sacrament, because of the magnitude of this commitment, the engagement - formation program - will involve both Juanita and I.  A weekend retreat and orientation with other Aspirants and their wives early next month kicks things off.  Now, in addition to the Intellectual Formation that started with the prerequisite classes I have been taking at Sacred Heart, Spiritual, Human, and Pastoral Formation will begin.  

I would be remiss to not include a few "Thank you's" in this transitional phase from the Application process to Formation.  To Jan, Dan, and Jim for their letters of recommendation - thank you.   Likewise, thank you to the late Fr. Norbert and Fr. Jeff for their pastoral support.  Thank you as well to Deacon Jene for helping to get the application ball rolling again last December when Juanita told me to follow my heart.  To my parents, Jim and Sandy, for all they have done throughout my life, leading me to this moment.  Finally, to Juanita, who has been by my side, and was instrumental in helping me hear and act on this calling.   I thank God that you are in my life.  Without all of your involvement, prayers and doing God's will, this would not be possible.

To wrap up this post, as a prayer for Juanita and I, I would like to paraphrase the closing included in the acceptance letter.   I would humbly ask readers of this blog periodically say this prayer for us as well.

"May God's Spirit be with us as we begin this journey in His service.  May His Spirit give us the knowledge, wisdom, and discernment that we will need to come to know His will for us.  Amen."