My New Hero: Former Pro Life Democratic Congressman to be Ordained Deacon

Deacon Greg Kandra always has the story, and this is no exception. He has also introduced me to someone who is my new hero.

Mike Forbes is a soon-to-be newly ordained Deacon. On April 13, Bishop Joe Vasquez, bishop of the Diocese of Austin, will ordain 11 new deacons, including Mr Forbes.

A former member of the United States House of Representatives from New York, Congressman Forbes was originally elected as a Republican, but switched parties. He had criticized the Republicans for being “tone deaf” to the needs of average Americans. However, the New York Democratic Party Chair, Judith Hope, refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he is pro life. 

I can certainly identify with this. Pro life Democrats are a beaten, bedraggled crew. Just look at the photo at the top of this blog if you want a taste of how our party supports us. At the same time, the Republicans are tone deaf to the needs of average Americans. 

If you try to follow Jesus, you will not fit in with either party. That’s a fact. 

Here, straight from the Deacon’s bench, is the story:

Describing himself as a devout Catholic in love with Christ all of his life, Mike Forbes considered whether God was calling him to the diaconate for more than 10 years during a successful career in public service. He held staff positions with the New York legislature and the U.S. Congress, and was elected to three terms in the House of Representatives. Since 2001, he has been president of his own advocacy, public relations and marketing firm.

He and his wife, Barbara, are members of St. William Parish in Round Rock; they have two adult children and two children at home. Forbes credits the example of the four deacons is his parish with motivating him to begin a serious inquiry about formation.

The “street retreats,” in which the candidates spent two days living on the streets with the homeless, and prison ministry were enlightening pastoral experiences. He remains open to ministering wherever God, through the bishop, calls.

 

And Wikipedia notes: 

n 1994, Forbes ran on three ballot lines for the House of RepresentativesRepublican, conservative, and right to life. He defeated incumbent George Hochbrueckner by six percentage points. Forbes got a seat on the powerful Appropriations committee, unusual for a freshman representative, due to his ties with new House Speaker Newt Gingrich. In December 1996, Forbes announced he was not going to vote for Gingrich for speaker. Forbes voted for Rep. Jim Leach instead. Forbes supported the Clinton impeachment.

On July 17, 1999, Forbes switched to the Democratic Party after chastising national Republicans for being “tone deaf” to the needs of average Americans. While embraced by President Bill Clinton, Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Max Cleland, and other Senate and House Democrats, New York’s liberal Democrats (particularly chairwoman Judith Hope) refused to welcome Forbes into the Democratic Party because he is a staunch pro-life advocate.

 

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    I checked with some people who would know about these things, and it seems Mike Forbes will be making a little Catholic history. He appears to be the first former member of the U.S. Congress to be ordained a deacon. How cool is that? (Hint: very!)

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Verrryyyyy Cool !!

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I may start sending him fan mail. (I wonder if he’s hankering for an overweight old groupie.) :-)

  • Dale

    Being a pro-life Democrat must be extraordinarily difficult, given our political climate. The Democratic Party won’t welcome such a person. And the Republican Party will see the person as the enemy.

    Michael Forbes learned that lesson well, when he switched parties. A three-term congressman, he failed to win the Democratic nomination for the office he held. And his former Republican colleagues attacked him with a gleeful venom, even after he was out of office, because he was a “traitor.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/29/nyregion/public-lives-parties-switched-and-friends-lost-but-no-regrets.html?ref=michaelpforbes

    I know little about Mr. Forbes, but am in awe of his courage and his principles. We need more politicians such as him! Unfortunately, given the extreme ideological polarization which our country is enduring, that seems unlikely to happen.

    The Church will benefit from his work as a deacon, I do not doubt. I hope he finds success with his business as well.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Amen and amen Dale.

      “I know little about Mr. Forbes, but am in awe of his courage and his principles. We need more politicians such as him! Unfortunately, given the extreme ideological polarization which our country is enduring, that seems unlikely to happen.

      The Church will benefit from his work as a deacon, I do not doubt. I hope he finds success with his business as well.”

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I do have a fuzzy memory of him switching parties but being ostracized by the Democrats. It really shows you how pro-abortion the Dems are, especially here in New York State. They primaried him in a Republican district, and he lost the primary and the Republicans took the seat back. He probably had a good chance to hold on as a Democrat if he wasn’t primaried. The Dems here hate pro-lifers like you wouldn’t believe.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve noticed. :-)

  • http://www.thereluctantwidow.com Kimberlie Meyer

    I am a fellow Oklahoman introduced to your blog by my parish priest. I really look forward to reading your entries. While living in WI during the early 2000′s, I worked in the (full time) campaign office of my Congressman. Moving back to OK, I refused to register for either party. My experience left me disgusted with the money- driven ideals of the Repubs and I just couldn’t embrace the Dems as a pro-life Catholic. So I remain “independent.” ” If you try to follow Jesus you will not fit in either party.” True. Very True.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Welcome Kimberlie! I’m glad you’re here. It sounds like you and I think alike.


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