I remember how proud I was watching my dad be ordained a deacon 20 years ago but it doesn't even compare to how proud of him I am today watching him serve the Lord by impacting peoples lives and making Jesus real to those he comes in contact with each day. It keeps him busy to say the least. My mom's response to people when they ask where my dad is goes, "Our Father, who art in a meeting". But, it brings him such joy and such satisfaction that it is worth the sacrifice we have to sometimes make...like when I noticed the other day that he has a rehearsal dinner scheduled on my birthday!! Oh well...it's not a biggie this year anyway.
I've been having some memories related to my dad becoming a deacon that I thought I'd share today. The first is the day he told me that he and my mom had made this decision. I was in the 3rd grade. A little boy in my class had been involved in some sort of accident that resulted in his death. The day of his funeral I was sick but desperately wanted and needed to be there to say goodbye with the rest of the class. So I stayed home until my dad picked me up and took me to the funeral. Afterwards, he was driving me to my doctor's appointment (I think I had strep throat) and it was there in the car on the way to the doctor's office that he told me this big news. Funny that I remember all of that but I don't really remember how I felt about the announcement. I think I just thought it seemed pretty okay with me.
I also remember how he had to go away for an entire weekend once a month for 4 years. I was in 4th grade when he started and in 8th grade when he was ordained - and I was the oldest of 3! When I think of it now, especially now that I'm a mom who lives for the moment that my second pair of hands arrives, I don't know how my mom did it! I know it was hard on her because we've talked about it but...I look back on those weekends and remember them being really fun. But, that's how my mom was and is today with my kids. She can make things so much fun. One particular weekend that stands out in my mind was a rainy one. Again, as a mom now, it makes me shudder to think of a whole weekend alone with 3 kids and not being able to get out of the house! But I remember that we made a huge train track out of pillows all throughout the downstairs or our house. We must have used every pillow from every bed and couch in the whole house. It was a blast!
As I got older, I had mixed emotions about my dad being a deacon. Deep down inside I was immensely proud and new that it was a really special thing. But as I grew into a teenager I couldn't express that of course. I had to be pretty cool about it. My friends would joke and call me a DD for Deacon's Daughter. They said I could be like the preacher's daughter on the movie Footloose. I would agree and laugh along with them although I had never seen that movie and had no idea what they were talking about! I quickly figured it out from how they talked about that character and soon I began to take that on as a bragging point to show people that I was a "cool DD" which is hilarious because I couldn't have been more opposite than that girl!
Last, I remember the first mass that my dad served as an ordained deacon. I was used to seeing him up on the altar helping and serving in different capacities but this was the first time as "the deacon". There was of course the now often told story of the pastor of our church announcing that my dad would not be preaching that day because he did not have all of his faculties. After the church finished laughing I think he explained that faculties in this case meant that he had not finished his "preaching training" for lack of more knowledge on my part as to how to explain it but of course it sounded like the priest was saying that my dad was loony. I had no idea what either meaning of the word was so I had no idea why everyone was cracking up.
But there was a part of the mass where I did get to laugh. When they got to the part of the mass where the deacon (in this case my pop!) sings, "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith" my whole family just cracked up. I think partly because we were not expecting it and partly because, well, he wasn't a bad singer...I just think maybe his very first time doing it didn't sound so natural or something? Not sure why but it just struck me, my mom and brother so funny and I remember us just all giggling there in the pew.
Those are just some of the memories I have about this special time in our lives. I don't know if anyone but me will even enjoy them but I sure have had fun thinking about these things. The rest of the 20 years has been filled with watching my dad proudly from the pews, listening to people rave about how wonderful he is and sometimes even just going to my knees to pray for some of the things he has to do like being with people when they die or helping families through crises. I don't know how he handles those things but I know he depends on God to give him the graces he needs in every situation - and God does not let him down.
Please say a prayer for my dad and his ministry as well as all who are called to serve the Lord in any way. Here's to another 20 great years pop!