“Paul wants to be a deacon”

And he became one.  From Staten Island, the story of one deacon’s journey to ordination:

When Paul J. Kosinski‘s third-grade teacher, Sister Perpetua, discussed the Catholic church’s seven sacraments, he predicted, “I’ll receive them all” — unlikely, since mutually exclusive marriage and the priesthood are among them.

But 47 years later, Paul has achieved his goal, as a long-time husband and recently ordained deacon of the church.

A mortgage development officer at Sovereign Bank/Santander, Kosinski and his wife, Eilean have been active in St. Mary’s Parish, Rosebank, since 1980. Paul was president of both the parish council and PTA.

Beginning in 1992, their pastor, the Rev. Victor Bubendorf (“Father Vic”) would annually ask Kosinski if he’d ever consider becoming a deacon. Not feeling qualified or worthy, Kosinski would respectfully decline.

But after deacons from St. Charles parish helped Father Vic celebrate mass, when the pastor was recovering from broken hips, Kosinski acknowledged to his wife “it would be nice” to assist the pastor as the deacons were.

Then, in what he considers Holy Spirit-inspired, his wife announced to Father Vic, “Paul wants to be a deacon.”

With the pastor’s recommendation, Kosinski applied to the program, undergoing a 400-page questionnaire psychological evaluation, and completing a 62-page application, covering such matters as his parish leadership roles and affirming he was not ineligible via any canon law violation such as espousing abortion.

The Kosinskis were interviewed to determine if she was completely supportive of his goal, lest the ministry or marriage fail, due to the time demands. Her support was “essential,” Kosinski said.

He was accepted first as an “inquirer,” and reported for 10 weekly conferences at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, Yonkers, a 75-mile round trip he made with two fellow Islanders.

Then, he was admitted to the four-year Formation program, involving intensive study and service. Over 30 weeks, two nights a week, deaconate candidates take 24 classes a year, plus engage in constant reading assignments, research papers, exams, weekend conferences, and an annual retreat.

“And you’re always under scrutiny assessments to identify personality traits that may conflict with your eventual mission,” said Kosinski.

After he criticized an instructor in front of others, he was told he was “rigid and reactive,” and could be expelled if he didn’t demonstrate a willingness to change.

At home, when he mentioned the characterization, his daughter Amy laughed, “Those guys are really smart; it took me 10 years to understand that. They know it already.”

Kosinski recalls, “Never aware I had those traits, I realized there was a real need to change.”

He credits the Holy Spirit for Amy being present and making her comment. “That moment was crucial — and wonderful,” he said.

At Formation, he crafted what he called “the perfect” apology, saying he realized he was at fault for voicing disagreement in front of others.

After six months, the scrutiny he received from this incident shifted from this incident to three classmates, who’d complained that one teacher was “killing” them with too much work.

Kosinski considers the scrutiny a good thing, as preparation for the scrutiny from many quarters he’d endure once ordained.

Read the rest.

Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this, Dn. Greg. As a candidate in Formation, I think people in general (and men considering the Permanent Diaconate in particular) should know that such scrutiny is part of the process. I was called out on my own behavior in a similar way during my Aspirancy year, and it was very helpful, although, of course, uncomfortable at the time. Most of us are squarely in our middle-aged years, and we have all the characteristics that guys that age have, including the ones that make our wives roll their eyes. Part of becoming a Deacon is encountering and working on that stuff.

  2. ron chandonia says:

    This point about this future deacon’s being critiqued as “rigid and reactive” is very interesting. Some Catholics today see such rigidity as a sign of a firmness of religious conviction as opposed to a wishy-washy willingness to bend to the whims of popular sentiment. Inflexibility is too often regarded as a sign of strong faith or orthodoxy. It is very difficult for people with a “real Catholic” mindset to realize that they may have more in common with the Pharisees of the New Testament than with Jesus.

  3. David_J_White says:

    “I’ll receive them all”

    Has he received Extreme Unction, or is just assuming that he probably will? Just curious.

    ***

    After he criticized an instructor in front of others, he was told he was “rigid and reactive,” and could be expelled if he didn’t demonstrate a willingness to change. … (snip) … At Formation, he crafted what he called “the perfect” apology, saying he realized he was at fault for voicing disagreement in front of others.

    Good grief. I encourage my students to disagree and question what I say in class. I want them to learn to think. I’ve learned a lot from students who have disagreed with me in class and pointed out things I’ve overlooked. Does this mean that the Church doesn’t want Deacons who can think for themselves, but who just parrot back what the instructors say? I realize that this article just gives the highlights of the incident and not the specifics, but it sounds like the intructors may be the ones who are “rigid and reactive”.

  4. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    David…

    “Extreme Unction” is now known as the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As the catechism explains:

    1514 The Anointing of the Sick “is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived.”130

    1515 If a sick person who received this anointing recovers his health, he can in the case of another grave illness receive this sacrament again. If during the same illness the person’s condition becomes more serious, the sacrament may be repeated. It is fitting to receive the Anointing of the Sick just prior to a serious operation. The same holds for the elderly whose frailty becomes more pronounced.

    I know people who have received this sacrament a number of times, under a variety of circumstances, and most were not near death.

    Dcn. G.

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