BY MATT POTTER
CATHOLIC STEWARDSHIP AND ABUNDANCE
I would like to tell you about Ed Walker.
I met Ed during the prayer service and walk that kicked off the fall observance of 40 Days for Life, which took place Sept. 21 in Evansville. I was introduced to Ed by Eric Girten, the Director of Family and Life for our diocese.
Ed and I walked together much of the way, talking about our faith and our experience with the Church. Ed is in formation for the permanent diaconate, which is an enormous commitment for those called to this very special vocation.
I love to hear vocation stories from clergy and those in clergy formation. Sometimes, the call to vocation comes like a lightning bolt; other times, it just seems to be the natural progression of life. I have had a number of clergy tell me, “I always knew I was going to be a priest.” Others have said it was the furthest thing from their mind.
Virtually every deacon I know came to their vocation via work in the secular world. Doctors, lawyers, car dealers, firefighters, teachers, pharmacists – there are many lines of work that lead to formation as a deacon. The course work is challenging intellectually, spiritually and emotionally, and the candidate has to be able to withstand the rigors of formation and family life. Many of these men hold down full-time jobs in addition to their monthly course work and formation, which goes on for five years.
One of my best friends from Wyoming was recently ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Cheyenne. Greg is an oncologist and spent many years applying his medical knowledge for the benefit of the native people around Anchorage, Alaska. He and I talked a lot about his call to be a deacon long before he ever began the program. We hunted together, and there were many hours sitting in wheat-field stubble waiting for the deer to get a little closer, or walking through waist-deep snow looking for elk while he would tell me the latest developments of his clerical journey.
Once his decision to enter diaconate formation was made, there was never any guarantee that it would end in his being ordained. Greg had many days where it seemed there were just too many roadblocks that were going to prevent ordination from ever taking place.
But now, he is a deacon. Even though he is really, really new to the game, I have no doubt about his ability to provide pastoral and ministerial help to all those he encounters. He is at an age in his life where he could be done working completely and pursue other interests. Instead, he chose to serve the Lord and the people of God.
Our deacons are pretty special people. Being a deacon is not terribly glamorous work, but it sure is necessary. Like our priests, deacons have to say “Yes” to their vocation every day – during discernment and formation, and after ordination. They are profound examples of stewardship, and I am grateful to them for answering the call to their vocation.
If you see Ed at Mass, or some parish or diocesan event, be sure to say hello. You will be better for it. While you are at it, please pray for our clergy – both those who are ordained and those in formation. There is a lot of uphill in their journey, and our prayers can help ease their way.
Thanks for walking with me, Ed. The pleasure was all mine.
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