Deacon Candidate Michael Bortnowski- Christ our Light Parish, Cherry Hill.
Although I have experienced a strong calling for a deeper relationship with Christ and the Church since the late 1990’s, my journey in the Diaconate Formation began with many questions. Do I have what it takes to be a good Deacon? Will I be able to effectively balance the demands of a high pressure Corporate job & business travel, family responsibilities, and Church ministries with the requirements of Formation? Would I really be able to complete the required years of Formation and academics while in my 50’s?
Now in my fifth year of Candidacy, time has flown by. Formation has provided me with the opportunity to grow personally, spiritually, pastorally as well as academically. After initially discerning the Diaconate while working in Houston, TX for Compaq and HP, I relocated back home to South Jersey in 2006 with a strong desire to continue in Formation.
I entered the Pre-Aspirancy phase of the program with a strong calling, but with only a novice-level knowledge of Scripture, theology, Church history and human development. My time in Formation has enabled me to become much more educated in these areas and many more. With this increased knowledge and practical experience, I am much more confident in having informed discussions of theology, Christian spirituality and the role of the Deacon with others in the community. My Formation experience has also enhanced my pastoral skills (including Stephen Minister certification), enabling me to be a more effective minister to the homebound and those in nursing homes and hospitals.
Although there will be challenges and times of discernment along the way in Formation, I continued to just say “yes” to my calling. With the inspiration and support of my wife Debbie and the men in the St. Timothy group, being in Formation has been a blessing for me and one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences of my spiritual journey.
So if you feel you are being called to follow Christ as a servant through the Diaconate, just say Yes!