Imagine my surprise when in the middle of distributing groceries, I felt a call to go deeper into ministry similar to the call I heard when I thought God was calling me to be a priest.
How does one discern a call from God to a vocation in the Church? God calls all people to holiness. Within this call, God calls each of us to a particular state in life. For some, this particular call is to marriage. Others are called to religious and consecrated life. Still others are called to ordained ministry as a deacon, priest, or bishop. As a young boy, I thought I was being called to the priesthood. In time, I discerned that God was calling me to the married state. This call was confirmed on the day of my wedding when I saw my beautiful bride and was reconfirmed when each of my three children were born.
In the year 1997, I was teaching a class on Christian Service to seniors at a Catholic high school when a student raised his hand and asked me: "What has discipleship cost you? How have you gone out of your comfort zone to minister to those in the margins?"
I am sure that I gave some answer to satisfy the student's curiosity. But in truth, my student was absolutely correct. Upon reflection, I realized that my own discipleship was very comfortable. Yes, I was doing good work, but was I following Jesus, who went out to meet those who needed help? In truth, I wasn't. I knew that if I was going to be an effective witness to my students, I needed to practice what I preached. And so, with my young students, I opened a food pantry in Fall River to distribute bags of groceries on the last Saturday of every month. The year was 2001.
Imagine my surprise when in the middle of distributing groceries, I felt a call to go deeper into ministry similar to the call I heard when I thought God was calling me to be a priest. But I knew I didn't make a mistake in discerning the call to be a husband and father. So, where was God calling me?
Then, one Sunday, I saw a married man serve alongside the priest at Sunday Mass, and I thought to myself, maybe this is where the Lord is calling me. This call was confirmed on the day of my ordination, Sept. 17, 2011, with the laying on of hands. This call is reconfirmed every time I meet a wounded and hungry heart longing for the tender mercy of our God.
My life is blessed. I am privileged to grow in my relationship with Christ by sharing the sacrament of marriage with my wife and the family we are raising in our home. I continue to serve Christ as a permanent deacon assigned to the Together in Christ Collaborative in East and West Bridgewater and as the director for the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Boston. This is how God has called me deeper into a relationship with him. How might he be calling you? If you think God might be calling you, then I invite you to participate in our inquiry program this fall. If you think God might be calling your husband, neighbor, or friend, share this information with him and encourage him to attend these sessions.
Inquiry program dates and registrations
The formation office for the permanent diaconate will be holding three inquiry sessions for men interested in becoming deacons.
Wives of inquirers are strongly recommended to attend sessions one and two.
-- Inquiry Session One: Who is the Deacon?
This session will be offered via Zoom. For your convenience, please visit www.bostondiaconate.org or email Deacon Christopher Connelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to register and receive a link. Inquirers can choose one of the three dates for session one: Sept. 27, Oct. 6, or Oct. 20. All sessions begin at 7 p.m.
-- Inquiry Session Two: Morning of Recollection and Discernment
This session will be held in person at the Pastoral Center at 66 Brooks Drive, Braintree, on Nov. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon.
-- Inquiry Session Three: Canonical Impediments and Issues
This session will be offered via Zoom. Please visit www.bostondiaconate.org or email Deacon Christopher Connelly at email@example.com to register and receive a link. Inquirers can choose one of the two options for session three: Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. or Dec. 6 at 7 p.m.
More information is available through the diaconate website: www.bostondiaconate.org or by contacting Deacon Christopher Connelly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-746-5649.
DEACON CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY IS THE DIRECTOR FOR THE PERMANENT DIACONATE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BOSTON.