Deacon formation: "It has truly enriched my life"

A large class of deacons is about to be ordained in California — and the Los Angeles paper, The Tidings, takes a closer look at the men, their calling, and their formation:

Ordination to the diaconate is less than three months away for the 48 candidates and their wives who have journeyed for nearly five years in the Santa Barbara Region diaconate formation class.

“It has been a very intense and wonderful learning experience for everyone,” says Deacon Ed Mills, regional diaconate formation director. “We had outstanding teaching by the seminary faculty who worked with the candidates, all from various walks of life. The candidates were formed very much the same way priests are formed; there was continuity with the faculty and each year built on the one before.”

“The process has truly enriched my life,” agrees Pat Coulter, a deacon candidate from Holy Cross Church in Moorpark. “It was all that I thought it would be and more.”

The end – and the beginning – is especially sweet for Coulter, who heard the call and began his journey to the diaconate nearly 40 years ago. But careers in business and as a Marine Corps officer delayed the completion of his formation for ordained ministry. When he applied to re-enter the process, there was an obstacle.

“I encountered some difficulty about my age, but I was determined and committed to follow through with this life-long call to service,” he explains, adding that Santa Barbara Region Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry gave him an exemption, allowing him to begin the process in the region. About a year and a half into the program he retired from his corporate career and is now taking classes at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, “to give me more time to delve into theology and spirituality,” he says.

David Munoz, deacon candidate from Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Santa Barbara, is also no stranger to the diaconate formation process. He began in the first Santa Barbara Region deacon class nearly a decade ago, but after a year and a half realized that the time wasn’t right due to the needs of his family, and he put the call to the diaconate on hold.

“So I moved into it slowly,” Munoz says. “This was my second time, and this time my wife Angie attended all the classes with me.” …

The current group of deacon candidates is nearly as large as the class of 60 ordained in June 2007 at Santa Barbara City College. That does not mean, however, that any of them will lack for service opportunities.

“The new deacons will have plenty to do,” says Mills, one of six deacons serving at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Ventura. “You’d be surprised at the huge amounts of work in parishes, and in society in general, that there is to be done.”

There’s much more.  Read the rest.

  • ron chandonia

    My favorite lines:

    “Mills emphasizes that the ministry of deacon is centered on the corporal works of mercy, so much of their formation concerns discovering and learning about all of the places and opportunities to serve that exist in their communities. For example, the candidates focused on homeless projects within their deaneries including hospitals and jails.”

  • Robert

    Great Post. I’m a revert attending church for 4 years now. I’ve been dealing with the nagging feeling taking my faith to the next step which included being a Deacon. But, I’m having trouble discerning if this is from God or from me.

    Do you have any advice on this dilemma. Thanks.

  • Deacon Herb Gimbel

    Robert, the good Lord tugs at our heat strings. Take the time to pray about it and have a talk with a priest or your Pastor. God calls us in many different ways. Perhaps a retreat would be good for you in tour discernment.

    If their is a deacon at your parish talk to him. the rest will be through the Holy Spirit. Be open and prayerful ask God for the guidance.

    Spiritually yours,

    Deacon Herb

  • Tom

    Congratulations guys.


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