Twenty-five years seems to be a magic number that many people strive for - 25 years of life - 25 years of marriage - 25 years of work. Recently I celebrated 25 years of ordination to the diaconate - twenty-five years of active ministry as a Roman Catholic deacon. A ministry shared with my spouse and children - with family and friends - with my parish family. On October 8, 1988 - twelve men were ordained as deacons by Bishop Joseph Imesch at the Cathedral of Saint Raymond in Joliet, Illinois. It was an exciting day - a terrifying day - a day of perpetual commitment - to serve the people of God - the people of the Joliet Diocese. All twelve of us were originally assigned to our home parishes - many to be moved later to other assignments - as some relocated - as parish needs changed. We were ordained for the Church - as assistants to the Bishop - as his eyes - ears and hands - to minister faithfully to his people. Twenty-five years later - four of us have been born to eternal life - the remaining eight still in active ministry. We have preached thousands of homilies - baptized approximately five thousand babies - witnessed hundreds of marriages - donated over one hundred and fifty thousand hours as unpaid ministers - spent thousands of hours involved in youth ministry, RCIA, bible study, nursing homes, food pantries, bereavement, wakes and funerals, missions, retreats and dozens of other ministries - all in the names of Jesus. Many people question why any man would become a deacon - considering the investment of time and money out of our own pockets - taken away from our families - from our personal interests - without any compensation.
To a man - all of us joyfully serve - to honor that call from God - to make our election and commitment to serve His people - as men of God - permanent - to be role models and examples of ordinary men - called to do extraordinary works - in the name of Jesus. Unlike those who serve for a time - then move on - our commitment is a life long one - serving day in and day out - not as perfect men - not as great men - but as ordinary men who listened to God and through His grace - serve him in charity and humility. Our reward is the smile on the faces of the parents and babies we baptized - the thank yous received - the heartfelt handshakes and hugs freely given. To my brother deacons - to my family and friends - I say thank you for allowing me to enter into your lives - for accepting me as I am - an ordinary man.
Dcn Dick-Dcn Chuck-Dcn Jim-Dcn Dale-Bishop Imesch-Dcn Leon-Dcn Tom-Dcn Tom-Dcn Paul