I asked Deacon Sue to respond to the question of what a deacon in the church is about. Here is her explanation of the prayerful process to be a deacon. We thank her for serving as Christ Church's Deacon these past few years.
Hello my friends,
I just want to do a little follow-up about Archdeacon Chris’ call for those interested in the Diaconate. A couple of folks have said how much they enjoy church, being on a committee and/or working behind the scenes like the alter guild. Those are indeed a call to ministry but being a deacon is so much more. It’s a life.
This is not an individual decision, families should discuss how it would affect family-life, finances, social engagements, homework, spirituality, transportation, stress, and mental/emotional strain. This is a commitment of not just attending a Sunday service but giving into a new life of Jesus. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples to show humility and servitude. That is a part of what we deacons undertake as well as taking up the mantel of “turning the tables in the temple” to work for social justice. But before we get to that we must wholly commit to the process.
Discernment takes one year. You must fill out 28 pages of every detail of your life, good and bad choices, no stone unturned. A CORI (criminal records check) is a part of the packet as well as a complete physical signed by your doctor, and a Psych evaluation done by a group affiliated with Boston university. You write a documentary of your life especially your relationships with family, friends, church, and socially.You submit vital records of birth, baptism and confirmation. Then, your parish must put together a committee to sponsor you. They are 6 people who learn every detail of your life and must maintain that confidentiality perpetually. My team and I became so close we laughed and cried every month we met. They turn in a final report to the diocese whether to lift you up or not as a candidate, as does your sponsoring priest, mine was Rev Jeremi Colvin.
You then must pass an interview with the standing committee and another with the Bishop. Now, your journey begins!
1-You must commit to participate one weekend a month to live in community with other deacons-in-training at the Sister’s of St. Anne’s convent in Arlington. You eat, pray, worship, train at the altar, sit for 6 hrs a day for class, sing, learn to teach and to listen. Yes, there is homework, small group workshops, safe-church trainings, each month a deacon after Friday supper-teaches a lesson, another-preaches on Sunday worship and a third acts as deacon. There are right and wrong ways to do all these things and each day there is time set aside for constructive advice.
2-Commitment is also made to dedicate daily to prayer. This is more than just praying for the sick or family concern, you must meditate on the Word and contemplate your personal journey. Then there is the reflection on the duties you are asked to fulfill.
3-Travel time to meet with the various people is required monthly. It is also a big part of your training. You must meet with the Archdeacons for supervision, a clergy advisor, a spiritual advisor, a mentor, and while doing your internship a supervisor. Each one is probably in a different part of the diocese. My clergy advisor was in Newton, my Spiritual Advisor in New Bedford, my mentor in Sandwich, and Internship supervisor in Swansea.
4-Over the next 3 years you must dedicate time to do an annual internship. One year it is in an organization where you serve the community in a non-profit for 9 months. My first year was working with a faith-based group advocating and providing the needs of seniors. Another year you serve as a student deacon in a parish as practice for 6 months, (I was blessed to be under the mentorship of Fr. Al). A third year it’s a place of your choosing, I chose to create and facilitate a Lenten workshop on Martha and Mary.
5-In your spare time, you must complete the monthly reading or book, write an essay, write an Ember Day letter, write a sermon, research, and organize your internship project, and make sure your car is maintained. (I was by the side of route 24 once or twice without antifreeze).
6-You may not return to your sponsoring parish. You can never return to serve the community that lifts you up for the Call. Just as Jesus was rejected for who he was, the son of God, he could only be seen by the people of Nazareth as “that carpenter’s son.” We too, would conflict with those who may have seen us differently. Some would-be-deacons only wanted to serve “their church.” They had to discern if they really had the Call. Not everyone makes it to be ordained.
Why did I go through all this?
At my side at my ordination was: my daughter Crystal, Rev Jeremi, Archdeacon Pat Z., Fr. Al, Rev Don Meir (my spiritual advisor), and Tom, my beloved.
In the congregation: my granddaughters, friends from my senior fellowship, my bff, my friends service dog, many sponsoring church members, my discernment team, and my fellow deacons were all there to say:
“Bishop Gayle Harris, Bishop in the Church of God, on behalf of the clergy and people of the Diocese of Eastern Massachusetts., we present to you Susan Correira. to be ordained a deacon in Christ's holy catholic Church.”
Bishop Gayle then asked me:
“My sister in Christ, do you believe that you are truly called by God and his Church to the life and work of a deacon?”
I believe I am so called.
My heart Answered:
YOU BET I’M READY!!
If you are interested in the Diaconate, please check out: