ORLANDO | Five years of formation preceded my Ordination. The reality is, though, formation never ends.
As I reflect on my diaconal ministry having entered my 20th year of service, it is easy to see how God uses each moment to deepen my understanding and ability to serve the People of God.
It was easy to see how I continued to be formed while serving as parish director at Our Lady of the Pines in Colorado for seven and a half years. It was less apparent, but equally important to see, how that formation continued during my five years working on board cruise ships. Despite not being hired as ‘deacon,’ God used those years as a human resources manager to teach me how to better ‘serve the servants,’ especially those with little power or privilege, far from their homes. When I arrived in central Florida in 2016, it was clear to me that the more I had grown in ministry, the more I knew I needed to grow.
At the start of 2019, I was asked to take on the role of director of permanent deacons for our diocese. I had turned down a similar request twice when I was in Colorado, but like Samuel, when I heard the call the third time I needed to respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Trying to support our 190 active and 60 inactive deacons in the various opportunities and challenges in their ministries and lives is a humbling experience. At the same time, it is a great honor to walk with these men and their families.
An equally sacred trust is the responsibility to lead the discernment and formation of the men seeking Ordination. Our goal is to help them understand the profound nature of this ordained ministry, which is far deeper than the idealized portrait with which most of us start our formation. Sometimes the candidates push back, convinced that we focus too much on the challenges that may be faced. The reality is that it is in the face of those challenges we may provide our most Christ-like service and encounter the deepest grace.
Like most new deacons, I had looked forward to the joy of Baptisms and Marriages. Yet, my greatest service has been to families who have lost loved ones far too young, or who have been broken in other tragic ways. Being present in those moments is where we best live our ministry.
Many ask me what is the ideal number of deacons for each parish to have? I respond that the answer lies not in the quantity of the deacons, but in the quality of diaconal service. True diaconal service must be grounded in humility, docility of spirit, and complete surrender of our will to God’s.
It’s not our will, but God’s that must be done.
Diaconate Discernment Nights
All sessions are from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
- 10/26/21 Basilica of St. Paul, Daytona Beach
- 10/28/21 St. Catherine of Siena, Kissimmee
By Deacon Dave Camous, Special to the Florida Catholic, Final in a four-part series, October 21, 2021