Deacon Candidate Dean Johnson- Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish, Glassboro.
I laughed so hard. It was one of those uncontrollable belly laughs that garnered raised eyebrows and side-eyed glares from passers-by.
I along with my family was walking from the parking lot to the church for Sunday Mass when we ran into our pastor. We greeted each other with a handshake and half hug and inquired about each other’s well-being.
And then out of nowhere he said, “Have you ever thought about becoming a deacon? I think you would make a great deacon.”
He smiled, bid me good day, and left me laughing in front of the church doors.
Me? A deacon? Deacons were these old guys who did…who did…well, I really wasn’t quite sure what a deacon did besides stand next to the priest at the altar during Mass and by the doors after Mass.
One thing for sure, though, a deacon was the kind of guy who went to daily Mass, had a full Catholic school education, and had all his car radio presets programmed for EWTN. I was a product of public education, missed Sunday Mass occasionally, and played guitar in a rock band. I was far from what I thought a deacon was or what a deacon had to be.
And yet, something kept gnawing at me. I couldn’t stop hearing that voice saying “I think you would make a great deacon.” It got to the point where I was like, “Alright, fine. Let’s just see what this deacon thing is really about.”
So I researched and inquired and learned that the diaconate is not just about serving at the altar, it is not just about serving in ministries, it is about being “a sign and living witness of the presence of Christ the Servant in the world.”
Wow. A dedication to serve the needs of others, a dedication that says not what’s in it for me, but what can I do for another.
But who was I to be such a witness of our Lord in the world? Who is anyone, really? That’s when that little nagging voice came back to remind me that perhaps I am that person. So I began the process of discernment.
I have just reached the halfway point of my candidacy and formation for the permanent diaconate. The more I learn, the more I fall in love with Christ and His Church and the more I feel Christ’s presence in my daily life and my growing desire for the graces through the sacraments to help me learn to serve and be that presence in the world.
The idea of becoming a deacon now brings a little less laughter, but just as many smiles.