Celebrating a milestone in the journey to diaconate

Seventeen men, including one seminarian, pose with Bishop Martin Amos and Deacons Frank Agnoli and David Montgomery after being admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders July 12 at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant.

By Barb Arland-Fye

MOUNT PLEASANT — Bishop Martin Amos called 17 men to continue formation for ordained ministry during the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders. Of the 17, 16 are in the Diocesan Deacon Formation Program and one is a seminarian.

The rite took place July 12 during Mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant, with relatives and friends of the candidates and others witnessing the ceremony.

The candidates, from throughout the Diocese of Davenport and of various backgrounds, pledged to Bishop Amos to prepare themselves “in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and his body, the church.”

Their journey began two years ago, when leaders of the Deacon Formation Program traveled throughout the diocese to introduce the diaconate and to invite interested men to begin an inquiry process.

Inquirers were asked to take time to talk with their wives, families and pastors about the diaconate, read and visit the Deacon Faith Formation Web site and to fill out an extensive application.

Following inquiry, 20 men were invited to participate in a year of aspirancy after interviews with Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of the Deacon Formation Program, and the Admissions and Scrutinies Committee.

Aspirancy is a time of discernment, reflection and study to determine whether an aspirant is ready to be nominated to the bishop for acceptance as a candidate for diaconal ordination.

Of the 20 who were admitted to aspirancy, four left for various reasons — one to enter the seminary because he feels called to priesthood, Deacon Agnoli said.

For those who became candidates July 12, the ceremony affirmed the spiritual journey they have embarked on. In four years, God willing, they will be ordained deacons.

“Today is really a beginning,” observed Mark Comer of St. Joseph Parish in DeWitt. “Being with the bishop here today and all of the members of the class was very special,” added Comer, a married father of three who owns a small motel in DeWitt.

John Osborne of St. Mary Parish in Grinnell appreciated Bishop Amos stating in his homily that all of the faithful, through baptism and confirmation, are consecrated to be a holy priesthood.

“We all share a common priesthood,” Bishop Amos said in his homily, which delineated the differences between the priesthood all of the faithful are called to and the ministerial priesthood that some are called to.

“Ministerial priesthood – the priesthood of bishop, priest and deacon – is at the service of the common priesthood. It is servant leadership to build up the church.”

Osborne, the married father of four young children, has been thinking about being a deacon for years, as have many of the candidates. During his discernment, “I found out how vast the ocean of spirituality is.”

Dan Huber of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport said it was “a great gift to be surrounded by this group of men and their wives; just to see the dedication and passion for the church has been inspiring. The church needs more people to step forward.”

A married father of two young children, he looks forward to being exposed to multiple areas of ministry during his candidacy. “We’re going to be working with people in lots of different ways.”

The beauty of the liturgy at which the candidates were admitted to the Deacon Formation Program reminded Derick Cranston “of the sacredness of Holy Orders” and the connection to a faith that dates back a couple of thousands years. The husband and father of one from Holy Trinity Parish in Richmond is grateful for his wife, Kim’s, support.

Watching the men approach the bishop to take the next step, “you could feel the Holy Spirit coming through,” she said.

 Mitch Holte, a husband and father of three from St. Mary Parish in Solon said his year of aspirancy was wonderful and formative. “I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did.”

His wife, Sally, said, “I’m looking forward to growing with him.”

Jim Brockert, a husband and father of three from Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish in Muscatine, said the rite felt like “a confirmation of the ongoing discernment I’ve had for the last 27 or 28 years.”

The community aspect of the formation program has been phenomenal. “It’s like a family,” he said.

For seminarian Jacob Greiner, that community life will be centered in the seminary in the Twin Cities.

Greiner – who will be ordained a transitional deacon while the others will be ordained permanent deacons – participated in the July 12 rite to fulfill the candidacy requirement at his seminary.

Deacon Agnoli said Greiner’s participation provided a teachable moment for the faithful: “While ordained ministry takes different forms, there is only one sacrament of Holy Orders.” The only difference is that men planning to become priests or single men being ordained to the diaconate make a promise of celibacy.

“With Jacob being there, it was a good demonstration that we’re not talking about competition between ministries.”

As Bishop Amos concluded in his homily, “God has chosen each one of you from birth to be holy and has adopted you in Jesus so that you may exist for the glory of God. That is the Good News.”

Names of candidates, their wives and parish

James Brockert (Amy): Ss. Mary & Mathias, Muscatine

Mark Comer (Susan): St. Joseph, DeWitt

Derick Cranston (Kim): Holy Trinity, Richmond

Dan DePuydt (Linda): Ss. Mary & Mathias, Muscatine

Jacob Greiner (seminarian): Holy Trinity, Keota

Bob Glaser (LuAnn): Ss. John & Paul, Burlington

Mitch Holte (Sally): St. Mary, Solon

Dan Huber (Rachel): Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport

Ed Kamerick (Jane): St. Patrick, Melrose

David Krob (Cheryl): St. Mary, Solon

Dennis McDonald (Linda): Ss. Mary & Mathias, Muscatine

Ted Mountz (Margi): St. Alphonsus, Mt. Pleasant

John Osborne (Sherry): St. Mary, Grinnell

David Sallen (Sheila): Holy Family, Fort Madison

Bob Shaw (Laura): St. Paul the Apostle, Davenport

Bill Tyrrell (Tammy): St. Alphonsus, Mt. Pleasant

John Wagner (Cheryl): Our Lady of Victory, Davenport

Late deacon’s family congratulates men

(The following letter was read at the end of the July 12 Mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Mount Pleasant. It was addressed to the new candidates of the Diocese of Davenport’s Deacon Formation Program. Deacon Joe Demeter of St. Alphonsus Parish died Jan. 8, 2008).

“The family of Deacon Joe Demeter would like to let you know how proud he would be of each of you.

Not many people know the extent of the journey which God has called you to. He would be so happy to know that you have chosen to go down this path.

We were always so proud of our father’s love, faith and devotion in serving as a deacon of this church. He loved St. Alphonsus, what he did, and all of you very much.

We would like to tell you that as you continue on this journey Joe is walking with you. Joe is in each of our hearts, is always listening and his spirit is with each of us.”

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