Seven men to be ordained permanent deacons Dec. 5

| November 24, 2015 | 0 Comments
Deacon Joseph Michalak carries the Book of the Gospels March 26 at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Deacon Joseph Michalak carries the Book of the Gospels March 26 at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

When seven men step forward to be ordained permanent deacons Dec. 5 at the Cathedral of St. Paul, it will be the first time since 2010.

The five-year break resulted from changes to the diaconate formation program, including its establishment as an institute under the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Deacon Joe Michalak, ordained in 2010 and the director for the Institute for Diaconate Formation at the St. Paul Seminary. “I’m in my 16th year as director of the formation, so I’ve seen a lot of the changes. The biggest change was 10 years ago when the U.S. bishops issued, for the first time ever, actual norms and our national directory based on universal Vatican norms. That changed formation all across the country.”

Key changes in the current program in the archdiocese include:

  • An increase in length of the formation program from four to five years
  • Men are ordained while still in formation, with this year’s ordination class scheduled to complete their formation at the seminary in June 2016
  • A requirement that all candidates complete the two-year program at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute as part of their formation
  • The option of working toward a master’s degree while in formation
  • The separation of the director of formation, who oversees the institute, from the director of the diaconate, who focuses on the welfare of the deacon community. Deacon John Belian, a parishioner of St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, assumed the latter role earlier this year.

“We’ve got a particularly good formation program, compared to others,” Deacon Michalak said. “I’m humbled and like a proud father to see these men finally, after five-plus years, coming to that great day of entering into the ministry.”

The future of the diaconate is bright in the archdiocese as well, with 10 men in their second year of candidacy and 15 in their novitiate year. The next ordination will be in December 2017.

“In the broader picture, I anticipate that we’re going to see deacons assigned in far broader areas,” Deacon Michalak said. “I think the future is deacons being assigned to universities, and deacons being assigned to education. . . . They’re not just for the parish. They’re for anywhere the Church needs to be.”

The seven men expected to be ordained Dec. 5 are Paul Buck, a parishioner of St. Henry in Monticello; Eric Gunderson, a parishioner of Epiphany in Coon Rapids; Tim Hennessey, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in Little Canada; Kim Jensen, a parishioner of St. Stephen in Anoka; Michael Kraemer, a parishioner of St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center; Martin Meyer, a parishioner of Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville; and John Shearer, a parishioner of St. Agnes in St. Paul.


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