Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 28, 2004
Deacon was to be his destiny
Innisfail accountant answers his call to serve God and his people
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
It all adds up that Jim Scott would become a deacon someday.
The amiable accountant from Innisfail has served the Church in numerous capacities since he converted to Catholicism after meeting his wife-to-be Eileen.
But it was a trusted soul who nine years ago suggested that Scott enroll in the permanent diaconate program in the Calgary Diocese.
"I had been seeing my spiritual director since 1995 and she told me I should see my bishop to make me a deacon," said Scott, 61, who will be ordained the first permanent deacon in the Edmonton Archdiocese June 27 at Our Lady of Peace Church in Innisfail.
"I really felt called to serve God's people. I had a strong desire," Scott said. "I have always had a searching mind. I wanted to know some answers, which is why I was seeing a spiritual director."
At the time, the Edmonton Archdiocese had not developed its own permanent diaconate program (which commences this fall) so Scott required permission from Archbishop Thomas Collins to attend the Calgary program.
For three years, Jim and Eileen, now married for 35 years, travelled to Calgary one weekend a month for 10 months of the year.
"At one point, I was on the archdiocesan pastoral council and I was at the meeting Archbishop Collins mentioned a permanent diaconate program for Edmonton," said Scott, who moved to Innisfail from Calgary in 1975.
"But what tends to happen once you get south of Red Deer, a lot of times you go south instead of north. You go to Mount St. Francis in Cochrane instead of Star of the North in St. Albert."
Scott brought along his active service to his new archdiocese and parish and resumed his duties as lector and Eucharistic minister.
Nola Fisher has served as a spiritual director for more than 20 years, mostly at the Faithful Companions of Jesus Centre in Calgary. She has observed Scott as a trustful neighbour and a deeply spiritual man.
"I actually knew Jim from when my husband and our family lived in Innisfail," Fisher said. "He had been very faithful coming every month. I directed him through the exercises in everyday life and then he went on to other programs we had."
Scott completed the archdiocese's Formation for Pastoral Service program.
"We discerned in the directing that he was being called into ministry," she said. "He has gone through a lot in his life but his faith and convictions have remained strong. When Jim says he is going to do something, you can count on him."
Growing up in Pincher Creek, Scott was raised Anglican. He expected 22 family members, including his mother, brothers and sisters, three children and grandchildren, will attend his ordination. It was his understanding that nine of his program mates, now ordained deacons themselves, will be there as well.
"I think I'm most likely to be serving in Olds. You have to go to where you are needed. Father Les Drewicki at St. Stephen Parish is eager to make use of me," Scott said.
"He's responsible for Olds and Trochu. After the churches in Sundre and Didsbury were closed, the people began coming to Olds. But he does go to Sundre once a month and I think he travels to Three Hills occasionally. He's very busy."
Scott anticipates he will help celebrate baptisms, weddings without Masses, and funerals. Throw in the odd homily on Sundays and Scott will be there.
"I feel confident. As the day of my ordination comes closer, I'm getting a little excited. I must say that Eileen has provided tremendous support. From the beginning we were told it's marriage and family first and how you support them comes second. Then the diaconate program. And it's true," he said.
"Eileen can participate in some of the ministries. If I'm involved in a Baptism, she can help set things up. If I'm part of the team doing prayers the night before a funeral, Eileen can be with me."
"I am there to support Jim," Eileen said. "It enlightens me to see his growth. I think we have both grown through this. I know I understand my religion more. And I have been able to meet the other wives in the program and that has helped Jim and I grow closer together."
Eileen said there is a beautiful harmony in their family because their children are all behind their father.
"Our children (Mike, 33, Mark, 30, and Michelle, 27) are very supportive knowing this is what their dad wants. This is Jim's calling because if it were not, he wouldn't continue on. If Jim gets called out to serve and if there is anything I can do, I'll be there to support him and help him out."
As for being the first deacon ordained in the archdiocese, Scott says he feels honoured to be the first permanent deacon in the archdiocese. More deeply, however, he feels the call to serve.
"I have had experiences where I see God calling me to humility," he said. "If you place more emphasis on the position of deacon than on the call to serve, then you have the wrong idea. I am growing closer to God. "You always question yourself if you are worthy. But none of us is worthy. It's only through God's grace that we can do anything," he said.