Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 18, 2009
Deacons are enjoying the dance
Ten months after ordination, the archdiocese's first class of deacons says their ministry is filled with joy
“There has been a very positive response from most of the people. But there are some people who look at this person who has arrived out of the laity and suddenly he is clergy and is treated differently than other lay ministers,” he noted.
“So the comment would be: It would have been very useful, and in the future really it will be necessary to prepare the people so they know what a deacon is and what to expect.”
Noster and Father Stan Blaskowski have worked well together. “He’s been extremely supportive,” he said. “He has given me opportunity to do Baptisms, funeral vigils and to speak on behalf of him at times.
“He has trusted me implicitly with the care of the parishes, which has been very encouraging because I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to prove to him.”
Noster, a farmer and director of Wisdom Home Schooling, preaches the homily every second weekend, which has changed his weekends.
He used to be involved in music ministry and would practise on Saturdays and serve at Sunday Mass. He can’t do that anymore “because whenever I’m at Mass I’m almost always assisting at Mass.”
How demanding is the work?
“As demanding as you let it be,” Noster says. “This could be a full-time job. There is so much to do. If anybody is concerned about the deacon taking over too much work, they better have a look at how much work there is.
“We can use two or three more deacons in these three parishes easily and it would sure make it a lot easier for the priest to minister.”
Noster is about to do his first wedding for his son Simon and his ffiancée Nicole May 23 in California, where Simon is completing studies at St. Thomas Aquinas College. “I’ll officiate the actual wedding vows and I guess give the homily.”
Regardless of workload, the ministry “is actually very fulfilling,” Noster said. “I thought it may be a burden at Easter, especially Holy Week when I assisted at Mass 11 times and I preached six times.
“At the end of it I was certainly tired but in no way drained. I was actually built up by it, was really exhilarated by it.”
To an extent, the diaconate has been what Noster expected “but it has actually more than fulfilled my expectations,” he said.
“I knew there would be grace involved but I didn’t realize how much the Lord would make my job easy. Just when you think you have a difficulty in front of you, the Lord provides just exactly what’s needed.”
Deacon Donald Logan, a public servant with Alberta Learning, serves in the parishes of Villenueve, Calahoo, Mearns and Riviere Qui Barre along with Father Wellington Santana.
“I’ve had lot of experiences — all good, I may add,” he said matter-of-factly. “I haven’t had any problems or any issues. People have been good to me, very accepting.”
So has the pastor, who has given Logan every opportunity to develop his ministry.
In the past 10 months, Logan, 54, has presided at about half a dozen baptisms, three or four weddings and several funeral vigils. He serves at the altar with Santana every weekend and preaches the homily once a month.
One of Logan’s favourite activities as a deacon is baptizing. “It’s an opportunity to bring a new person into the Church and that’s a very, very special moment in that person’s life,” he said. “The child is not always aware of it but it’s an opportunity to remind the parents and everybody else of what it means to be a baptized Catholic.”
A married man himself, Logan also enjoys celebrating weddings. “That’s an opportunity for me to bring a couple into the sacrament of Matrimony which, again, is a very special time in a person’s life.”
Sad as they are, funeral vigils afford Logan the opportunity “to remind people what our faith means to us and the fact that there is an after-life and that the deceased person is not just gone.”
Work could be demanding but Logan’s wife Margaret makes sure his duties as a deacon do not interfere with the family. “She helps manage my time.” If she sees Logan is taking on too many responsibilities, “she would remind me I have other obligations.”
As far as Logan can see, the diaconate is working “more or less” as he anticipated.
“Evidence that this is the work God wants me to do is how well this is going for me,” he said. “I can’t wait until I can retire from my job to do more work.” He plans to retire in three or four years.
Deacon Claude Baril, 53, of Didsbury, has found the experience “fulfilling and humbling.”
“I find myself getting involved in people’s lives in a different way than I ever would have before,” he said.
“For me the most significant change has been my involvement in the sacraments — the humbling responsibility of marrying people and baptizing and officiating at funerals and of course preaching.
“Those are things that I’ve seen before as a layperson but now I’m actually involved in them. Now I’m standing there as the person who is really bringing Christ to people.”
So far he’s presided at three weddings and 12 infant baptisms. He also preaches the homily once a month as previously arranged with Father Maurice Okolie, who serves Olds, Didsbury, Sundre, Trochu and two Trochu missions.
Baril, a financial administrator, is one of two deacons assisting Okolie; the other is Deacon Jim Scott. “So he preaches once a month and I preach once a month.”
Practice has allowed Baril to grow in his homiletic skills. “I find that very rewarding,” he says. “I’m finding I’m growing personally and becoming more confident in the presentation of my homilies.”
Okolie is supportive, he said. “He has respected the fact that I still have a job and a family and he has allowed me room within that to fit everything into my life.”
Parishioners have been equally supportive and he hopes they are being enriched by his presence. “I find that they are very welcoming and I would like to think that I’ve brought something to the parish with my diaconal ministry.”
Added Baril, who together with his wife Margaret own and operate a pharmacy in Didsbury: “I find that people enjoy having me there to share the load, to share the responsibilities and to be there as a resource as well.”
The ministry is what Baril expected.
“There have been no surprises,” he said. “I knew that my life was going to change and it has. I knew that my commitment to Sundays was going to be greater, being involved in more liturgies.
“I knew that I would spend more time preparing homilies. I knew that all of this was going to happen and that I would have to fit it into my daily life.”
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