Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 31, 2010
Life of service led Germain to enter the diaconate
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Guy Germain's call to the permanent diaconate didn't come in the form of a "lightning bolt from heaven." It came gradually - through years of dedicated service.
As Germain sees it, his call began decades ago when he served as an altar boy in rural Alberta and crystallized with his joining the diaconate formation program in 2006.
"I see my job as trying to make everybody models of service in whatever role they are called to play," he said in a recent interview. "I see the deacon really as being a bridge builder - trying to build a bridge between the people in the Church and the secular culture."
A 44-year-old manager with the Alberta government and a part-time sociology instructor with the University of Lethbridge, Germain will serve in St. Agnes Parish in Edmonton.
He and his wife Jacinthe have been married for 22 years and have three children: Sebastian, 18, Raven, 15, and Erika, 13.
The idea of service - which is at the core of the diaconate - has always been central to Germain's life.
"About eight years ago I became a palliative care volunteer and at that point I had no conception of been a deacon. But I used to run to the hospital on my lunch hours to be with the dying," he recalled.
"Again I can look back and say that was a sign of God calling me to a life of service and perhaps the beginning of that seed of diaconal service."
Besides visiting the dying, Germain has also served as a soccer coach, Boy Scouts leader, Knights of Columbus member and adult server.
"So I've been quite involved in the Church and in the community," he says. "One of the interesting things that they told us is that the Church doesn't make a deacon. The Church calls men who are already witnessing diaconal signs of service and forms them to take on that role."
Germain was born and raised in Plamondon, near Lac La Biche. He was the youngest of three children. His father was a carpenter and a trapper, his mother a homemaker.
The family attended church every Sunday and Germain began serving as an altar boy at St. Isidore Parish at age eight or nine.
"I think that regular attendance was the seed that nourished the faith and the vocation," he says. "Part of the seed of my vocation was being raised by very devout parents who were wonderful in passing on the faith to me."
At 18, Germain came to Edmonton to study sociology at the University of Alberta, leaving behind his faith and his childhood dream of being a priest.
"What happens with many young people happened with me," he recalled. "I came to university and I left the faith for a time. I had my time of wandering in the desert."
He and his wife returned to the Church soon after the birth of their first child and began a life of service together.
They attended St. Thomas Aquinas Parish for a time until they moved to St. Agnes more than a decade ago.
With the same intensity that they got involved in the community, the Germains got involved in the parish, serving in various ministries as a couple.
Germain remembers getting the idea of being a deacon long before the archdiocese launched the diaconate formation program in 2004. "So I wrote a letter to Archbishop Thomas Collins saying that I thought I was called to be a deacon. Of course, he wrote back saying there wasn't a program yet and advised me to wait."
He applied as soon as the program was launched "but my application was deferred, maybe because of family circumstances."
Germain was accepted into the second class, which began four years ago.
"My particular calling wasn't a lightning bolt from heaven but was a persistent calling of the Lord to say, 'You know, perhaps you should consider this. You live a life of service, maybe this is for you.'"
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