By Evelyn Sinclair Tierney
For The Catholic Messenger
Ed Kamerick is our bulldozer man — that’s how we know him. As owner of his own construction company, Ed and his sons will come to your farm and build a pond or change the landscape in a matter of hours. He is our soil conservation contractor. That’s how we of the Melrose community and St. Patrick Parish know Ed Kamerick.
On Sunday mornings, Ed and Jane (his devoted wife of 40 years) and their families would be seen filling the south wing of St. Patrick’s Church. One Sunday a few years back, Ed and Jane began serving as greeters and soon it was known that Ed was thinking about becoming a deacon. We had our priest and altar servers, but never a deacon.
We would soon find out what having a deacon meant and Ed and Jane would soon find themselves in a new partnership with their church. It would begin, for both of them, with a year of intense discernment and prayer followed by five years of study, travel and expense.
Ed Kamerick was raised in the Georgetown community and with his family belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. In his youth, he attended many other Christian churches and was in his own words, “always looking for something but didn’t know what.”
He had friends in the Weller community who were Catholic — the Cralls, Bearys and Hollinrakes. He discovered that what he had always wanted and searched for was what his friends already had, the Catholic Church.
Then Ed met Jane Hollinrake, a Catholic from Weller. Before they were married in May 1975, he was received into the Catholic Church at St. Mary Church in Weller. He made his first Communion and was confirmed by Father Sylvester Conrad.
As their family grew to include three sons and one daughter, Ed and Jane’s construction business also grew and so did the family’s faith. During a pilgrimage to the religious shrines of Europe and especially at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Ed felt he found an answer to one of his special prayers. Ed had asked what he, a Catholic layman living in rural Iowa, could do for his beloved church. He perceived a call from the church to serve in the diaconate.
The role of permanent deacon in the Latin Church was restored in 1968 in the United States, three years after the close of the Second Vatican Council. Edwin David Kamerick became a member of Deacon Class VI. (A distant cousin, Father Bernard Kamerick, served in the diocese in the mid-20th century.)
Ed was ordained a deacon by Bishop Martin Amos at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport on July 13, 2013, and was assigned to Father Patrick Lumsden’s parishes in Melrose, Georgetown and Lovilia. The thankful congregations were soon to know the blessings of having a deacon and learned the many duties performed by him.
Briefly, according to the Deacon Handbook of Policies and Procedures, a non-salaried deacon, vested similar to the priest during Mass, can assist at the Mass remaining at the side of the priest. The deacon can proclaim the Gospel, deliver the homily if requested by the priest celebrant, distribute Communion and purify and arrange the sacred vessels. A deacon can also baptize, has a general delegation to witness a marriage and can conduct burials and Celebration of the Word as in the Rites of Adoration and the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Deacons can also give the blessing with the reserved Eucharist, preside at the distribution of Communion outside Mass and bring Communion to the sick and infirm.
The role of a deacon’s wife cannot be discounted. Jane has been at Ed’s side, attending every class, lecture, meeting, Mass and retreat. She earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Theology during Ed’s preparation for the diaconate. Jane is religious education director at St. Patrick’s.
People in our tri-parish configuration have watched with pleasure and pride as Ed has grown in the role he prayed for at the Lourdes Shrine. The dignity and grace he possesses as our deacon is an inspiration and joy. Ed Kamerick is still our bulldozer man, but he is foremost our Deacon Ed.
Congratulations, Deacon Ed, on the second anniversary of your ordination.
(Evelyn Sinclair Tierney is a member of St. Patrick Parish-Melrose and a published author.)