Passion for youth ministry led to pursuit of diaconate

by Kara Hansen
Special to The Leaven

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Camp Tekakwitha sessions in Williamsburg begin this summer, there will be an everpresent, familiar face there in director Dana Nearmyer.

But this summer, he will bring his faculties as a newly ordained deacon to the Catholic adventure camp for the first time.

“I’m looking forward to serving the people of God and, most specifically, serving at Camp Tekakwitha and other youth events, to represent the church with all the graces of ordination,” said Nearmyer.

Being able to proclaim the Gospel at Mass, as well as help in a more meaningful way with adoration and Benediction, were both aspects of the diaconate that particularly appealed to Nearmyer.

Nearmyer said the five-yearlong process of formation leading up to the diaconate has been helpful — not just in preparation for becoming a deacon, but also in his current position in the archdiocesan office for the evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

“All the formation has been helpful in understanding the church more fully,” he said. “I look forward to helping youth connect more fully with the church, along with the additional reliance on the Holy Spirit that ordination requires.”

And though Nearmyer is passionate about Catholic youth ministry and the new opportunities the diaconate will provide to serve others, he knows with the new responsibility will come a greater need for priorities.

“My first vocation is to my wife and my five children,” said Nearmyer. “My first goal is to get them all to heaven. After that, the balance of work and ministry will require prayer and ongoing dialogue with my superiors.”


Profile

Name: Dana Nearmyer

Parish: Holy Trinity, Lenexa

Age: 46

Family members and ages: wife, Deborah; children: Madison, 16; Blake, 15; Theresa, 8; Maximillian, 5; Mary Eliose, 10 months

Occupation: consultant for the archdiocesan office of youth evangelization and Catholic formation

Favorite food: adventurous eclectic

What I’m looking forward to most about being a deacon: serving the archbishop and people of northeast Kansas

Something people might be surprised to learn about me: I am an American Indian in two different nations.

Favorite saint (and why): Kateri Tekakwitha — her patronage has blessed me and the youth of the archdiocese so richly through the Prairie Star Ranch and camp. Many are choosing her for their confirmation names because she has touched their hearts.

If I could visit a period of church history, it would be: the Sermon on the Mount.

Favorite book (nonreligious): “Wuthering Heights” or “The Great Gatsby” Hobby: playing soccer

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