Frank Dunleavy

Date of Ordination: 05/02/2015
Current Assignment: Infant Jesus Parish, Woodbury Heights

“Deacons are cool!” I remember thinking that when I first started dating my wife, Dianne, over 30 years ago. I fell in love with Dianne and her family and I was very impressed with her father, Deacon Harold “Hal” Traxler. He always had the same sense of humor, easy going personality, and deep love for God and his people whether he was at church preaching, at home with his family, or just conversing with old friends or new ones. I was privileged to witness a deacon’s life first hand, and day-to-day. I found his love, service and joy very contagious. I’ve been blessed with many other uplifting and encouraging role models, including: my grandmother, my parents, my wife and children, and other priests and deacons.

I officially “heard the call” back in 2008, in a homily given by Fr. Tim Byerley at St. John Vianney Church. He stated confidently that there would be vocations coming very soon from within our church. To me that seemed almost impossible since our church would probably be closed soon due the mergers. I wondered who Father had in mind. Was he already talking to them and training and molding them? Then it hit me. What if he was talking about me? But I remember thinking how busy my life was then. How could I juggle career, family and school with this new ministry and calling? I followed the advice of another deacon who told me to “lean towards – yes” (because if God is calling you, and you say no, you are saying no to God. But if He is not calling you, and you say yes, you will know during formation that you are not called, and in the process you may find what you are called to do). So after much discernment and many questions and prayers, I applied.

Then came the 5 1/2 year formation process – which was both a great challenge and a great blessing! Along with the diaconate staff and instructors, I was also mentored by many wonderful parish priests, deacons and parishioners. Meanwhile, my family kept me humble and reminded me that love and service start and must continue at home. I gave lots of time, effort and sacrifice in those formation years, but what I received was even more. My family became much bigger. The men in my diaconate class became a brotherhood, and the bonds at the parish and in the community became much deeper and more personal.

God has a plan and a mission for all of us. Stop. Pray. Listen. Perhaps God is calling you to the diaconate. Ask Him to reveal His will for you. Attend Mass and go to Confession often. Read the Bible and the Catechism. Talk to a priest, deacon or other role model to help and guide you in your discernment. Lean towards – yes and always give thanks to God!