As we begin this Lenten Season, we are all striving to listen to the voice of God calling out to us. We are all looking for a personal renewal, for repentance and forgiveness, and the willingness to follow Jesus, as he carries the Cross of life, all the way to Calvary.
As your servant, I am now in my fifth year of being your deacon. What a blessing this calling has truly been to one who is unworthy. We never know when God is calling us to further service. We need to find that quiet moment and listen, in prayer, to the voice of God. “Whom shall I send?” “Send Me.”
This is a good time of the year to listen for the voice of God, and if you feel he may be calling you to the diaconate, please take that to prayer, and really consider it. No one becomes a deacon because of the title, it is truly a calling of further service in the Church. Diaconate means “servant,” the very reason why the deacon wears the dalmatic, the vestment that has sleeves in it. The sleeves look like they are rolled up, preparing that person for the work of the church, in charity. Roll up your sleeves and go to work for the Lord.
The Diocese of La Crosse has an excellent diaconate formation program, so much so that it encompasses the Dioceses of Madison and Superior. The whole program is five years of study, once you are accepted by the diocese and complete background checks. The first two years are very much discernment driven, for this is the time when you will know, and the Church will know, if this is right for the both of you. It is not failure to step back from the program, it is discernment that you must take to prayer, and in prayer the good Lord will let you know.
A new class will be beginning in the fall, if you feel called—if you have even the littlest bit of interest—that may be God calling you. The program is set up so that those who apply should be ordained before age 65, with some exceptions.
All priests, bishops, and even the pope were ordained deacons first. Some are transitional, meaning they will be ordained to the priesthood within a year. Others, like myself, are permanent deacons, I will go no further. Deacons can be married as long as you are married before ordination. Being a permanent deacon, for most, is a volunteer position, an unpaid position, but a very rewarding answer to God’s call. “Send me Lord.”