Deacon Kevin Anstey, St. Patrick Parish, Ottumwa, and seminarian at Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, Ill.: The impact of his ordination to the transitional diaconate didn’t hit him until Deacon Frank Agnoli addressed him as a deacon at the end of the Mass. “When Deacon Frank actually said ‘Deacon Kevin,’ my heart went crazy … to hear that for the first time.”
Before entering the seminary he worked as a contractor for Deere & Co., testing new machinery, which involved baling hay all night. “I’d be on a tractor for hours and hours in the dark. That was the time I had so much time for thought and prayer. That’s when I turned a corner in my life of faith.”
When a reporter asked Deacon Anstey whether he’s looking forward to ordination to the priesthood one year from now, the deacon looked at his watch and said, “It’s going to be June 7 … so it’s less than a year, 11 months. It’s something I’ve been hoping for and trying to live up to for six years. To me it’s real now, and to make the permanent commitment to this life is what’s so special.”
Deacon Bob Cloos, Ss. Peter & Paul Parish, Springbrook, and seminarian at Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corners, Wis.: “The whole thing from start to finish was amazing. I struggled to stop from tearing up. It just felt so right. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
He has appreciated accompanying Father Ed O’Melia of St. Mary Parish in Davenport on visits to people’s homes and nursing homes to bring the Eucharist to them. He looks forward to the day when, as a priest, he’ll be able to anoint the sick. He also looks forward to being able to consecrate the Eucharist.
Deacon Cloos is grateful for the support he’s received from Vocations Director Father Thom Hennen, his predecessor in that role, Father Marty Goetz; and from Bishop Martin Amos. “It’s kind of amazing to be called so late in life (he’s 55). When you see God’s plan come together it’s beautiful, like an orchestra.”
Deacon Mark Comer, St. Joseph Parish, DeWitt: “For the last week, honest to goodness, I felt surrounded by grace, by the love of the people of the parish, of all the people praying for us … I’m pretty sure I understand now what God wants us to do. I think I’m supposed to give away all the love God has given me … I really do feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Deacon Derick Cranston, Holy Trinity Parish, Richmond: “I woke up this morning with memories of my wedding day, holding my baby daughter in my arms for the first time and today, thinking aboutbeing ordained. They all mark important days in my life and they’re all related to sacraments: the sacrament of marriage, the sacrament of baptism and the sacrament of ordination.”
Deacon Bob Glaser, Ss. John & Paul Parish, Burlington: “I had two siblings and two in-laws in their 80s. I was worried about them getting here. I broke into tears when I saw them … I’m feeling terribly blessed.” For the past week he’d been wondering whether he was worthy of being a deacon. “I feel called; I have felt called to do this all along. I’m still not sure I feel worthy. It is emotional.”
On Sunday, Glaser and his wife LuAnn renewed their wedding vows in honor of their 40th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated last month. “This time, I was the one wearing the white dress,” Deacon Glaser joked.
Deacon Mitch Holte, St. Mary Parish, Solon: “Having my father here. My dad, all my life, never talked about religion. So it’s really neat that he came, and that he waited to come to me to receive Communion.”
Deacon Dan Huber, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport: He felt at peace, and had “a lot of joy and admiration for all of the guys in our class and their spouses and the amount of support, especially from Frank (Deacon Agnoli) …We’ve had a kind of interesting week in the family,” added Deacon Huber, whose mother-in-law died this month. “It’s been a challenging and a blessed time.” He got choked up during the litany because he’s wanted to be a deacon for years, but the time wasn’t right until now. “It’s a lesson in patience; that all things happen in God’s time.”
Deacon Ed Kamerick, St. Patrick Parish, Melrose: “We’ve had five years to prepare,” he said of deacon formation. But as he contemplates the responsibilities and unexpected situations he’ll face as a deacon, it still feels a little like being a 5-year-old looking out the window at night and being scared. Nonetheless, “it will be a joy. I hope to be able to be a good servant to the Lord.”
Deacon David Krob, St. Mary Parish, Solon: Special moment of the Mass: “When Bishop Amos took our hands (during the Promise of the Elect).” Looking eye to eye with the bishop and making a promise of faithful service and obedience was powerful, he said. Much of the ministry he’ll do as a deacon is ministry he’s been doing all along. “Doing it now as ordained clergy makes it special.”
Deacon Dennis McDonald, Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish, Muscatine: Serving at the altar: “It was very humbling. I tried very much to stay in the moment and not be so concerned about what might come next but to enjoy the beauty of the Mass and what was going on …This is what we spent five-and-a-half to six years preparing for. Part of me is saying, ‘God wants me here and I will do this to the best of my ability and God will do the rest.’”
Deacon John Osborne, St. Mary Parish, Grinnell: He felt “very honored” to serve as one of two deacons of the Mass following ordination. Before Mass, the deacon candidates met informally with Bishop Amos. That meeting helped crystallize an important aspect of diaconal ministry for Deacon Osborne: ordination is a beginning, not an end. “Everything in the world tells us that this is the end, but there is no end at all. Deacon formation continues; the diaconate begins today. This is very, very exciting.”
Deacon Dave Sallen, Holy Family Parish, Fort Madison: “I was in the seminary for two years (in the 1970s). The Lord had different plans for me back then, but he was persistent and kept calling. The call kept getting stronger and stronger. That’s how I knew I was headed for the diaconate. I feel very humbled. I can hardly wait to go back to the chapel of the prison (in Fort Madison) and let the guys know. They’ve been rooting for me. I also want to say thank you to my family for all their love and support. I couldn’t have made it without them.”
Deacon Bob Shaw, St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Davenport: “I felt like the support of the whole diocese was there for us. People came from all over the state. Our diocese was there together. That was very powerful for me.”
Deacon John Wagner, Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport: “I’m really excited. I’m ready to make the change … I feel we were well prepared.” He was glad his family could be present. “I lit a candle for my parents before we went in to Mass; I felt their presence.” Highlight? “When we were prostrate; the floor was so cool. There was a cool breeze; it was physically and spiritually relaxing. I didn’t want the litany to end.”
Hymns bring back memories
Belinda and Dennis Anstey of St. Patrick Parish in Ottumwa appreciated the selection of hymns sung during the Mass at which their son Kevin, a seminarian, was ordained to the diaconate.
“If we would have chosen the songs, those would have been the ones we’d picked,” Belinda said.
“Here I am, Lord,” one of the Communion songs, was especially touching to Dennis. “I could hardly get through that one,” he said, recalling how his son had confided that he had discerned his calling to the priesthood while working long nights outdoors on a tractor. The future priest had plenty of time to think and to pray.
The Liturgy of Ordination to the Diaconate “was a beautiful service,” Dennis said.
Belinda said she kept reflecting on her son’s childhood, reaching back for signs of his interest in the priesthood. As a mother, “you think you should have known, but you didn’t.”
Still, that reflection inspired her family to create a poster with labels identifying the qualities of a deacon with photos of Kevin as a child depicting those qualities. For the label “servant,” “there’s a picture of him standing on a chair washing dishes,” she said.
Their son’s ordination to the transitional diaconate “is just wonderful,” Dennis said. “The whole family has learned so much from his journey.”
Deacon Anstey’s sister, Megan Boswell, said: “I got the chills seeing him in vestments.”