This image here comes via the diocese’s Facebook page, from the ordination today.
If Deacon Paul Fifer had to sum up the ministry of the Permanent Diaconate in one Bible verse, it would be Psalm 116:9: “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.”
“That’s what the diaconate aspires to — bringing Christ out into the everyday world,” he says. Fifer, a deacon himself since 2006, would know; he serves as the director of formation for the Permanent Diaconate for the Diocese of Gaylord.
In an historic occasion for the diocese, six men will be ordained permanent deacons by the Most Reverent Steven J. Raica, Bishop of Gaylord, on November 7 at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord. It is the largest class ever ordained for the diocese.
Preparing since January of 2011, the men who will be ordained – Kevin Endres of Traverse City, Brent Hemker of Hale, Frank Kopasz of Manton, Martin Korson of Lake Leelanau, Scott Landane of Atlanta, and Jude Younker of Traverse City – have spent nearly five years focusing on prayer and service, all on their own time and expense. Each brings their own unique gifts to the diaconate and are eager to serve in any way they can.
A permanent deacon is the first of three ranks of ordained ministry within the Catholic Church – the other two being priests and bishops. Deacons are called to functions of Word, Sacrament, and Charity. Deacons can be married or single, and all priests are ordained a deacon before they make their priestly promises. Those who wish to become a deacon must undergo years of preparation, including monthly spiritual direction, earning certain academic certifications, meeting with the bishop, psychological assessments, and much more – all with the goal to fulfill a call to serve the Church in whatever way she may need.
The Diocese of Gaylord currently has 15 deacons that can be found serving in various ways – in parishes, hospitals, nursing homes, jails, food pantries, and in many more ways you may not even see. “They work in the fringes, just like Jesus did,” Fifer says.
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Congratulations and welcome, brothers! Ad multos annos!