Name: Dennis McDonald
Family: wife, Linda McDonald; son, Kyle McDonald (33), single and living in New Brunswick, N.J.; and daughter, Erin McLeod (30); her husband, Wade McLeod, and their four children: Gavin, 6; Cooper, 4; Quinn, 2; Beckham, 3 months old (all great-looking grandsons!)
Occupation: retired (2010) past president and CEO of Central State Bank and Central Bancshares Inc. (four-bank holding company with banks in Illinois and Iowa).
Parish: Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine
How did you know you were being called to the diaconate?
In 2007, I read in the Messenger that informational meetings were being held for men who might be interested in the diaconate. I mentioned to Linda that maybe I should go to one of those and she agreed, but I never followed up. In February 2008, Linda and I attended an American Bankers Association meeting in Washington, D.C. We flew out of Moline, Ill., early Monday morning to arrive in time for a dinner Monday evening, but our flight out of Chicago was delayed and we did not arrive until 8 p.m. Monday evening and the dinner was over.
As a result, we grabbed a bite to eat in the hotel restaurant by ourselves. During that dinner Linda told me that the previous day she was at a meeting at our parish and Father Jason Crossen (pastor) brought up the diaconate program to some of the other people at the table. Fr. Crossen indicated that he did not think entry into the class was closed and that applications were still being taken even though the deadline had passed.
Linda told me she thought I should sign up for the formation program. I started praying about it, talking to my pastor and the folks at the diocese and decided that God apparently wanted me to sign up for the formation program, but I still had no sense that God was calling me to be a deacon. Through the formation program, spiritual direction and lots of personal prayer and reflection, God has made clear to me that he wants me to be a deacon.
What was most rewarding about being a deacon candidate?
Getting to know my classmates and their spouses. They are truly God-filled people and I feel blessed to have journeyed with them. I am a better person for having spent time with them. I have also found the time spent deeply reflecting on God’s role in my life and God’s call for my life to be very rewarding.
What was most challenging about being a deacon candidate?
The time commitment. It was very challenging to balance family, work and the amount of time I had to spend on the class work and field experiences in the diaconate program. I was fortunate because I was able to retire a couple years earlier than I had originally planned to devote time to the diaconate program. I believe God gives each candidate he calls to diaconate the time and other resources needed to fulfill his call. Some in our class have young children in addition to working full-time and they model well what God can achieve with those who are willing to respond to his call.
What do you look most forward to in your ministry as a deacon?
Working with people; helping to bring God and his Church into people’s lives. To help people encounter the risen, living Jesus Christ and help integrate that relationship into their daily reality.
What is your favorite Scripture passage?
I do not have one favorite, but I think the image of the vine and branches in John 15:1-17 speaks to me about the close and personal relationship that Jesus wishes to have with each one of us and how his love and friendship changes our life.
John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
John 15:9: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.”
John 15:13-14: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
John 15:15-17: “I have called you friends … It was not you who chose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Name: Dennis McDonald