Formation: A “Surprising” Experience
by Joe Dion | May 9, 2017
Shortly after beginning my aspirant year (the first year of formation when one is aspiring to the permanent diaconate), I was asked by the wife of a deacon what surprised me the most about the process of formation. Honestly, the question caught me off guard, as I hadn’t really considered it before. I thought for a moment and then responded: “You know, I didn’t realize how blessed I would be by the men and their wives that are making this journey with me and my wife.”
I then described to her some of the men and women I had met, their personal and professional background, and the gifts each seemed to have for the Church: There were men and women who had lived Cursillo, men who ministered in prisons, a husband and wife who led pre-Cana ministry, couples who volunteered abundantly in parishes, and even a former Protestant minister who regularly led Bible studies and taught college theology. I shared how I was even initially overwhelmed and even somewhat intimidated by the rich and diverse experiences so many of them had compared with my own. However, I also recognized the importance of our different gifts. As St. Paul reminds us, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:6).
As I reflect back on the four years since we were chosen for permanent deacon formation, I can see the Lord’s hand guiding us—my wife, my fellow candidates, and their wives—as we have walked this journey together, growing in our understanding of the gifts we have been given and how we may use them in service to the Lord. As we have negotiated the twists and turns of formation together, we have grown both in our relationship with God and in our relationship with one another.
Since that first “surprise” question, each time someone has asked me about my formation, I invariably talk about my fellow candidates, their spouses, and my wife and the joy of knowing the wonderful gifts that they bring to the Church. I find myself nearly bursting with pride over the privilege it has been to share the journey of formation with them.
This blog was contributed by Joe Dion, Saint Kathryn Parish, Hudson, NH