“What am I called to do?” leads one man to being a deacon

A local paper in Mercer Island, Washington looks at one man’s journey to the diaconate:

On Oct. 27, Islander and former Starbucks employee, Frank DiGirolamo, recited vows and allegiance to the faith of the Roman Catholic Church beneath the splendor of the soaring Italian Renaissance ceilings of the 105-year-old St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Amid the pomp of the ancient rites of ordination, DiGirolamo, a married man, became an ordained member of the Catholic Church clergy…

…DiGirolamo, now 45, first considered a more formal role in the church about 10 years ago, he said. “For me, it was a more recent awakening than a lifelong goal.”

“It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It was something I had been moving toward,” he explained.

“After I married, I started to think, ‘What am I called to do?’” he said.

It was at Starbucks, ironically, when he finally gave voice to what he had begun to feel about a possible vocation with his church.

“My supervisor asked each of us who were working for him what we would be doing if we were not in our [present] job,” he said. “I answered that I would probably be working for the Catholic Church.”

It was an answer that he had neither prepared nor imagined he would say. Yet it was prophetic. Within 18 months, he had left the corporate world and was employed at St. Monica.

DiGirolamo remains grateful for that question.

The formal formation process for his new role took more than four years. He has been working for the church, here, for seven years.

He does not believe that his new title makes him terribly special. “I am just a reflection of what this parish has given me,” he said.

Deacons remain somewhat rare. On and off over the past couple of decades, deacons have been added to the church clergy. The number of priests, who must take a vow of celibacy, has dwindled dramatically. Active priests are getting older and retiring. Far fewer men are entering the priesthood. According to data on the Archdiocese of Seattle website, there were 485 ordained priests in Seattle in 1966. In 2010, that number has fallen by a third. The number of deacons has grown from 24 in 1976 to 140 now.

The addition of more deacons helps priests manage parishes and brings an element of the congregation itself into the mass.

It all seems natural to DiGirolamo.

“Having lay people leading the liturgy is how the church began,” he said. “It has always been part of the mass.”

There’s more.  Read it all. 


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