Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 14, 2008
Finagling daughter got Croteau back into the pews
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Paul Croteau left behind a prospering business to serve the Lord.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Lord has been good to Paul Croteau. And he has responded in kind. When he felt God was calling him to serve as a foreign missionary a few years ago, he sold his business to finance his theological education.
But the Lord had a different plan. Just when Croteau was about to complete his theology degree, the Lord came knocking again. He wanted him to serve as a deacon. Would he go for another four years of formation? He figured God needed him and went for it.
Born in Edmonton 47 years ago, Croteau grew up at St. John the Evangelist Parish and attended Catholic schools but drifted away from Church as a young man following his father's death. "That's why I always say I am a cradle Catholic with an adult conversion," he laughs.
Croteau began his career in the oilfield supply business until he eventually owned a prosperous outdoor sign company.
He married his wife Barb in 1980. The couple has one adult daughter, Dallas, who is married with a four-year-old daughter.
It was Dallas who 15 years ago brought Croteau back to Church when she announced she wanted to be an altar server. "I told her that her mother could drive her to church and she said 'No, the priest said that both parents have to come,' which was a lie," Croteau laughs. "She was lying through her teeth to get me to go back to Church."
Croteau went back and soon found himself immersed in several ministries at Good Shepherd Parish. "I jumped in with two feet," he recalled. He joined the Knights of Columbus, did baptismal preparation and served in various liturgical ministries.
Seven years ago Paul and Barb were happily doing their part at the parish when God came knocking, asking a bit more from them. "God said, 'Paul, I've given you the gifts; I want you to use them.'"
To prepare themselves to do God's work, they enrolled at Newman Theological College. They sold their outdoor sign company and then struggled to make ends meet.
God provided. In his last year of studies Croteau was hired as recruitment officer for Newman. For the past year-and-a-half he has been executive director of the Foundation of Newman College and St. Joseph Seminary. Barb works at the Alberta Marriage Tribunal as a case instructor.
The couple graduated with bachelor of theology degrees in 2005. In his last year of college Paul was asked to consider the diaconate. The idea of four more years of formation didn't appeal to him.
His resistance broke down when he found out what deacons do.
"I saw that the deacon really spoke to what I wanted to do, which is to help people in need and to spread the Gospel," Croteau said. "And four years of formation is an incredible journey. It really prepared me for what I feel called to do - to model the servant role of Christ to people."
The deacon's role is three-fold, explains Croteau. "We are ministers of the word; we proclaim the Gospel and we have a role in liturgy but that's not our first role. Our first role is that of charity. My parish priest wants me to be within the community to evangelize and I work very closely with St. Vincent de Paul Society in my parish.
"And then we have a sacramental role. We can assist at weddings, funerals and baptisms. We are there to serve the priest and the people of God."
Croteau is excited about the future. "I have an incredible joy at the prospect of God moving me forward in this journey."