by Leon Suprenant
This year, we celebrate the fifth anniversary of our first ordination class of permanent deacons.
Now they may seem like seasoned veterans, but these men were truly trailblazers for the diaconate in northeast Kansas. I asked them about some of their early experiences.
Deacon Tom Mulvenon says the scariest moment was his first Mass at St. Joseph Church in Shawnee. After 35 years at nearby Holy Trinity, he generously accepted the assignment to St. Joseph — a brand-new parish, a new pastor, all new parishioners, new church and new customs.
After the initial trepidation, Deacon Mulvenon says that he “never anticipated the outpouring of graces” he would receive through his serving at St. Joseph.
Deacon Chris Seago of Mater Dei in Topeka vividly remembers his first baptism. “I was very nervous and had a small infant and a 2-year-old girl to baptize,” he said. “I don’t know what it was about me, but the second that 2-year-old girl saw me, she started screaming. She did not want to have anything to do with me.
“When it came time for her to be baptized, she was still screaming and hollering and squirming so bad I don’t know how her parents hung onto her.
“I was able to pour water on her head and recite the words, but the water didn’t hit the same part of her head each time. It was like trying to grab a fly with your hand.”
Deacon Seago witnessed his first marriage on the Tuesday after his ordination.
“To say I was nervous was an understatement,” Deacon Seago recalled. “I kept reviewing the rite over and over. I kept thinking I have to do this right, I can’t mess up. I was nervous the whole time. I remember praying afterward that this couple would always turn to God in their married life.”
Deacon Seago said that while he was nervous the first few times he performed baptisms, funerals and weddings, he was gradually able to devote more time and energy into professing God’s love for us and his desire to be with us and comfort us than “worrying about messing up the rite.”
Deacon Tom Rothermich of Queen of the Holy Rosary in Wea said his “scariest first” was his first homily.
“The day that I was to deliver my first homily,” he said, “I remember sitting on my chair listening to the readings, thinking, ‘If I fake fainting, they’ll carry me away and I won’t have to preach!’ But the Holy Spirit held me up and everything was fine.”
Deacon Rothermich marvels at how active the Holy Spirit has been throughout his diaconal ministry.
May the Holy Spirit continue to guide our present and future deacons, to the glory of God and the salvation of his people.