Name: Terry Starns.
Family: Wife: Rebecca (Becky); four daughters (Rachel, Heather, Teresa and Katie); and four grandchildren (Noah, Karson, Lucy and Isabelle). They all live in the Milwaukee area.
Occupation: Parish Life Coordinator for St. Andrew Parish in Blue Grass. (Retired from Brookfield, Wisconsin, as Superintendent for Public Works.)
Ordination date: June 13, 1992.
Parish assignment: St. Andrew, Blue Grass.
Describe your diocesan deacon assignment: It’s a rather different situation being a deacon assigned to a parish and also being the Parish Life Coordinator (PLC). Besides having the role as deacon, I am also responsible for the administration and spiritual life of the parish. It is, basically, the same as being a pastor except that I don’t preside at Mass, hear confessions or anoint in the sacrament of the sick. It was a little easier for me coming to Blue Grass because they had a PLC for 12 years before I arrived. The parish was used to this type of management and leadership. Our sacramental minister is Father Bud Grant from St. Ambrose University in Davenport. He presides at Mass for us and takes care of most of the other sacraments as well. There are three PLCs in the Diocese of Davenport.
How did you know you were being called to the diaconate? In the spring of 1988, I was praying one night at home for people attending a retreat. I was praying the rosary when I suddenly felt a very strong calling that left me with a burning desire to serve God. At the time, I thought it might be the diaconate but I wasn’t sure. Then, a few months later, my wife Becky told me she had a calming come over her and she too felt that I was being called to ministry. Shortly after that, the diocese announced that interviews would begin for men interested in the permanent deacon program. I applied. After a series of interviews and testing, I was accepted to the fourth class of deacons in the diocese. I guess that the confirmation of my calling was that I never lost a desire to serve and to try to bring others to Christ.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a deacon? There have been many rewards but probably the most rewarding is seeing people’s lives change when they turn their lives over to God. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When people realize this, their lives change for the better and that affects all of those around them in a positive way. Selfishly, being able to preside at baptisms, weddings and funerals of family and friends gives me a warm feeling of satisfaction to be able to serve those I love.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a deacon? Early on in my ministry, being in one of the earlier formation classes, we did not have the training that the deacon candidates receive today. Working a more than full-time job and raising a family made it difficult to get the extra education and learning experiences that I needed to be competent. However, I did participate in many extracurricular learning activities and college-level courses so that I was more effective in my ministry. In recent years, as I approach 70, the biggest challenge is having the energy to do everything that I need to do. Both my wife and I have faced some serious trials in our health and that can be quite challenging.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”