By Barb Arland-Fye
John Osborne is married and raising four children with his wife, Sherry, working full-time and studying to be a deacon for the Diocese of Davenport. He is one of 14 candidates in the diocese’s Deacon Formation Program, which will benefit from the “Moving Forward in Faith and Hope” capital campaign now underway in the diocese.
“Sherry and I have chosen to enter the Deacon Formation Program because we have a deep desire to serve Christ and the church. It may sound like a cliché, but we feel strongly called to servant leadership. We have learned from our church how to love. We feel that it is our duty and desire to share with others what our church has taught us. Participation in the program of formation has deepened our love of Christ and others. Our spiritual life has been transformed so dramatically that I willingly admit I see the world differently. And that’s a good thing!”
The $500,000 in capital campaign funds to be allocated to the deacon formation program will assist in covering the costs the diocese incurs in training deacon candidates. These costs consist of hiring speakers and faculty, providing meals and an annual retreat. The financial burden of studying for the diaconate can keep many qualified candidates from preparing for this vital ministry, and many parishes are unable to assist in the cost of training deacons.
The diocese believes it must be proactive by providing additional deacon formation classes. This fund will allow the diocese to form more than one class simultaneously.
“The assistance given to the program through the capital campaign is a concrete expression of the fact that we’re preparing these men for diocesan ministry just as we prepare seminarians for priestly ministry for the entire diocese,” said Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of deacon formation.
“Truthfully, we are always in formation when it comes to ministry,” said Deacon Jeff Schuetzle of Prince of Peace Parish in Clinton, one of 33 active deacons in the diocese. “We received so many blessings from our years in the Deacon Formation Program. I use the plural because our formation was done as a family which allowed us to grow in our faith as a family. Secondly, we entered a new community and made lasting friendships with our classmates and their families. Lastly, but most importantly, we came to a much deeper awareness of who our loving God is as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our desire to give him glory by serving as deacons for the Diocese of Davenport. I am very thankful to the diocese for this opportunity.”
To date, the capital campaign has raised $13.3 million toward its $22 million goal. Funds will cover the purchase and renovation of diocesan headquarters in Davenport as well as support clergy, seminarians, schools, parishes and diocesan ministries. Each parish also will receive 20 percent of the funds it raises toward its target goal and 50 percent of any overage.