Meet our new soon-to-be deacons

| December 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Paul and Vikki BuckPaul Buck

Parish: St. Henry, Monticello
Age: 47
City of Residence: Monticello
Profession: Pharmaceutical chemist, Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Maple Grove
Spouse: Vikki Buck
Children: Rebekah (17), Jefferey (15), Christopher (14), Angelina (11)
Education: BS-Chemistry, 2002
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan (U.S. Air Force Base)

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
While Vikki and I were attending a “Why Catholic” group study series, there was a deacon and his wife in our group that made an impression on me and I felt that I might be receiving a calling. I mentioned it to Vikki and we determined that it would be best to wait. As it turns out, the calling didn’t go away, and about a year later it came back very strong after attending a Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) weekend retreat. We both knew that it was something I needed to pursue.

What made you certain that this was your call?
Eventually through continual discernment during formation by myself and by the Church, it became clear. The best way for me to describe it is to say that it felt as if the call was always there. You really know it’s certain when you receive a call to holy orders from the archbishop!

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the challenge of serving in whatever capacity God needs me.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
I love the liturgy and I have a particular affinity to hospital ministry.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
I think the greatest need in our archdiocese is the need to strengthen of the sacrament of marriage in order to strengthen the family.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
Growing in faith and falling deeper in love with Jesus and his Church. Enjoying the fraternal relationships with the other men in formation. Visiting people at the hospital during the ministry to the sick internship.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
Each and every one of the formators (deacons, priests and instructors) throughout all of formation had something to offer. I learned something from each of them.

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
I hope that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit I will be able to act as Christ the servant to all those I meet.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
Sometimes the amount of studying was overwhelming, sometimes the commute to the seminary was trying, sometimes the time away from family was difficult, and sometimes surrendering myself to the will of God was hard. If I had to do it all over again, I would.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
First, continually pray for an increase in vocations to the diaconate and second, take the time in parishes to understand the diaconate and who a deacon is. When men better understand the diaconate and they see a deacon exercising his ministry in gospel fashion, they will be inspired.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
Be open to the calling and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.


Eric and Mary GundersonEric Gunderson

Parish: Church of the Epiphany, Coon Rapids
Age: 51
City of residence: Coon Rapids
Profession: Teacher, Epiphany Catholic School
Spouse: Mary Gunderson
Children: Angelica (17) and Matthew (15)
Education: University of Minnesota, Bachelor of Science, 1988
Birthplace: Fridley, MN

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
A program on Relevant Radio interviewed Msgr. [Aloysius] Callaghan about the seminary and new developments. He spoke about the diaconate formation program that was starting up again after a hiatus in the fall of 2010. It was as if a light went on for me to pursue and inquire about the diaconate

What made you certain this was your call?  In my call I have been blessed with an inner clarity about pursuing the diaconate. I am a Matthew; I left my table and followed Jesus’ call.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to serving as deacon at Mass.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
I am especially interested in teaching, preaching and evangelization.

If applicable, what role will your family play in your new ministry?
I have not been assigned my new ministry; we will discern how our family can support my ministry and parish. I continue to depend on my family’s prayers as I continue my service to the Church.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
There is a great need for healing in our local Church. There is a need to foster unity in the archdiocese. We all need to continue to strengthen our Catholic families, to embrace our faith daily and live out our call to holiness.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
What I have found rewarding has been the opportunities to put into practice our intellectual and spiritual formation. Serving the homeless, the sick and the elderly. Visiting the imprisoned. Bringing Jesus to those losing hope. After going out into the community, coming back to the Mass and offering up the all those needs and prayers at the altar. All of our intentions brought to Jesus in the sacrifice of the Mass.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
I have been inspired by the many deacons of the archdiocese who participated in our formation. They have been great role models of how to serve the Church.

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
I hope to proclaim the Catholic faith in word and action as it is in the Gospels.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
It has been challenging for me to integrate work, family life and formation.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
To inspire men to answer the call to the diaconate, we as deacons need to serve at Mass with joy and reverence, to proclaim the Gospel with zeal!  We as deacons need to go out and serve the community as Jesus served.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
Pray. Take time and go before Jesus in the Eucharist and pray, “Jesus, what is your will for me?” Pray. Ask for the intercession of our mother Mary to help you discern. Talk over your discernment with your wife; the grace of your sacramental marriage will guide you. Attend the diaconate inquiry sessions at the St. Paul Seminary. Pray.


Tim and Anne HennesseyTim Hennessey

Parish:  St. John the Evangelist, Little Canada
Age: 57
City of residence:  Little Canada
Profession:  Licensing Consultant, Minnesota Department of Human Services
Spouse:  Anne
Children: Nick (wife: Eliana) 34; Erin, 31, Zach, 29 (wife: Meghan), McKenzie Purdy, 27 (husband: Mark); Kelsey, 25; Alex, 23; Mary, 21.
Education: Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota 1990; BA in Speech Communication, University of Minnesota, 1980.
Birthplace: Minneapolis

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
The Lord was calling me to this ministry for probably 20 years, but I was not ready to answer the call. One day my wife, Anne, said, “I think you should become a deacon.”  That invitation, along with some powerful spiritual conversion at that time in my life, moved me to action.

What made you certain this was your call?
I spent many hours in prayer. I took long walks. I journaled, and I talked with family and friends. I entered the program, and I continued to discern my call. Ultimately, a sense of peace came over me. I believe that peace was the Lord’s way of saying that this is His call for my life. Peace and joy are two hallmarks of an authentic call to ministry. Thanks be to God, I have experienced both.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to ministering to God’s people. As a deacon, I will assist at Mass, and sometimes preach. I look forward to opening God’s word to those who are hungry for truth. I look forward to counseling people who are struggling, and to celebrating the sacraments with children and adults. I also look forward to ministering to people who are on the fringe of our society, such as those in jail or prison, as well as those who are sick in body, mind or spirit.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
My particular passion is men’s ministry. Our Church and our world needs men who are convicted in their faith and ready to step out to ignite that flame in others. I hope to help men discover who God called them to be. I also look forward to bringing people to Christ and helping them grow in their faith through deeper conversion of heart.

If applicable, what role will your family play in your new ministry?
My family is my rock. My wife, my seven children, my sons and daughters-in-law, and my three grandchildren surround me with love and support every day. I am a very blessed man!  I know that my family will continue to support me and encourage me. There is a saying that goes, “Behind every great man is a great woman.” My wife, Anne, is a very strong person with deep convictions. She will push me when I need to be pushed, and encourage and support me when I am struggling.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
Our local Church needs much healing in the wake of all that has happened in these past several years. We need to stand together, confident of God’s abiding love and never-failing providence—even in difficult times!   We need to rebuild our local Church person-by-person, and parish-by-parish. I believe we will be a stronger, holier, and more vibrant Church, but it will take the work of all us, shoulder-to-shoulder, to bring this to fruition. We need to bring the love of Christ to all and let his love heal us and restore us!

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
We have been so blessed with gifted, faith-filled instructors. I have enjoyed all of our formation process. If I had pick the most rewarding aspect, I would say it has been our retreat experiences. Having time away with men of deep faith is a tremendous blessing. We seven men in formation have forged strong bonds. I know we will continue to support one another and rely on each other as we go forward into ministry.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
I have been deeply touched by the lives of holy deacons like our director, Deacon Joe Michalak, and our class dean, Deacon Mike Martin. The deacon community is a vibrant group of men who desire to serve the Lord joyfully. I have also been formed by the priestly ministry of my pastor, Father Tom Balluff, by my spiritual director, Father Steven Hoffman, and by my dear friend, Father Jim Livingston. These are but a few of the many people who have been models for me.

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
I hope to offer the Church my heart. Jesus Christ works through each of us in different ways. John 15:5 says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” I am confident that on my own I can do very little, but with God’s help, I can do great things. I want to offer the Church a heart that is open, loving, and ready to serve. God will do the rest!

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
The process of formation is life-changing. In the midst of working, being a husband, father, and grandfather, I have also been a student.In formation, one is not only an academic student, but also a “spiritual student”. God is working deeply in the hearts of those in formation. Some days it is a challenge to maintain balance with family, work, and formation. On the other hand, it is a great blessing to be called, and to answer that call. I wouldn’t trade the past five years for anything. Our family has grown in ways I never could have imagined.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
We need to identify men who might be called to this vocation and invite them to consider it. For me, it was my wife who extended the invitation. We need to encourage holy men to consider the diaconate and we need to continue to ordain men to the permanent diaconate so there are plenty of witnesses and examples for other men to see.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
I would encourage anyone considering the diaconate to enroll in the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. This is the first step in the process, and it will give a man a good idea of what seminary formation will be like. I would also encourage interested men to talk to others about the idea. Saying it out loud to another person really helps to cement in your own mind the idea that this is really a possibility. We all need encouragement to try new things. Seek out people who know you and love you and ask them what they think. In doing this you will also develop a ready-made support system!


Kim and Cecelia JensenKim Jensen

Parish: St. Stephen, Anoka
Age:  59
City of residence:  Andover
Profession: 911 Public Safety dispatcher, Anoka County
Spouse: Cecelia
Children: Anastasia, 28, married to Rob Murry
Education: Brown Institute, 1975
Birthplace: Minneapolis

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
First Deacon Dominic Erhmentraut told me I would make a good deacon, and then my wife encouraged me. Learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in my parish with others was also a big factor.

What made you certain this was your call?
Being selected and completing the formation process affirmed that I was truly listening to God’s call.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
Assisting at Mass.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
I can’t make up my mind. I am sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the possibilities.

If applicable, what role will your family play in your new ministry?
They have been very supportive. I hope my wife will continue to work with me in assisting engaged couples evaluate their FOCCUS inventory. I also hope to baptize my grandson when he is born in the new year.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
Our society is in need of massive healing. The only true answer is to convince people how much happier they will be with Jesus as their master instead of themselves, and that Jesus is there for us in the mass and the Catholic Church.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
Even though the formation process has been challenging, God has always provided me with every grace I need when I needed it. I am awestruck at his generosity.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
I think Pope Francis is an excellent model. He is humble and authentic. The joy that he has and the joy he brings to others is a direct manifestation of the incredible love he has for Jesus and his Church.

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
My wife and I are Secular Franciscans, and I pray that in some small way, my ministry will imitate the Peace Prayer. That I may be an instrument of his peace,  and through dying may be born again to eternal life.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
Undoubtedly, engaging in the formation process while not neglecting my family, my job and all the other aspects of daily life, including prayer.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
A vibrant men’s ministry including Bible study and lectio divina.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
Start praying the Liturgy of the Hours and spend time in Eucharistic adoration. Then call Deacon [Joe] Michalak, [the director of diaconate formation for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis].


Michael and Linda KraemerMichael Kraemer

Parish: St. Alphonsus in Brooklyn Center
Age: 64
City of residence: Brooklyn Park
Profession: Professional electrical engineer, Xcel Energy, Maple Grove
Spouse: Linda
Children: Marsha Schmidt, 41; Joseph, 38; Nathan, 36; Andy, 34; Theresa, 31; Nicholas – 27
Education: BS in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 1973
Birthplace: Wadena

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
Many people but especially our deacons at St. Alphonsus

What made you certain this was your call?
The peace that came over me when I said yes and stopped fighting the Holy Spirit.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
Participating in the liturgy as deacon.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
All areas.

If applicable, what role will your family play in your new ministry?
Our family is mostly grown up and moved away.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
The awareness of Jesus as the source of all healing and mercy, and His desire for a personal relationship with each one of us.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
Growth in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
So many deacons, and especially Deacon Joseph Michalak, Deacon Mike Martin and Deacon Bobby May, who died in 2007.

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
Whatever talents and charisms I have been gifted with for the salvation of souls.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
Going back to college after 40 years.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
Support the sacrament of matrimony.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
Invest much “face-time” with Jesus in Adoration.


Martin and Jeanette MeyerMartin Meyer

Parish: Mary, Mother of the Church, Burnsville
Age: 62
City of residence: Eagan
Profession: Operations manager
Spouse: Jeanette
Children: Renee’ McCloden, 38; Edward Meyer, 35; Charlotte Hayes, 33; David Meyer (deceased); Maxwell Meyer, 26
Education: Associate Degree-Electronics 1979
Birthplace: Waterloo, Iowa

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
The call came to me while I was at mass back in 1997 while I was sitting in the choir during a homily. It was a soft whisper in my heart, “I want you to be a deacon”.

What made you certain this was your call?
I went through the inquiry classes three different times, each time feeling that the time wasn’t right but the prompting kept coming and the fourth time I knew it was right and went through the application process.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to all three areas of liturgy, the Word and charity.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
Corrections and working with abuse healing are the areas I’m especially interested in.

What role will your family play in your new ministry?
My wife will be extremely supportive in my work.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
Evangelization and catechesis. There are so many people longing for purpose, meaning, and hope. They need a personal encounter and relationship with Jesus and to know and experience his unconditional love. They also need to be supported and nurtured by a strong community of faith to foster a deeper level of understanding of their faith to sustain them and become witnesses of Christ.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
Doing internships with the sick and elderly and corrections ministry have been very rewarding to me because no matter what I gave in service I received much more in return by seeing Christ in those I served.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
Deacon Leo Brustkern, who is retired in the Dubuque Diocese. He was like a spiritual father to me. Deacon Peter Huberty, who passed away this past year, was the deacon at my home parish, was a great homilist and encouraged me to apply to the diaconate. He said, “If the Holy Spirit is calling you, you need to respond!”

What do you most hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
Being a witness to and bringing Jesus Christ to everyone I meet and serve.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
The day-to-day challenges of work, family and study was the biggest one. Next, I would say, was surrendering myself to the formation process itself, trusting that God would bring about the kind of transformation, growth, and healing necessary to be an effective minister for the Church.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
Pray. Pray that God would continue to call to himself those who he has chosen and that they respond. Ongoing education in the Church on what the diaconate is about and who the deacon is are important for men to consider in discerning the call.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
Trust that God will lead you. If you are called, he will provide and give you all that is needed for the journey.


John and Terese ShearerJohn Shearer

Parish: St. Agnes, St. Paul
Age: 56
City of Residence: Burnsville
Profession: Software development engineer, Beckman Coulter, Inc., Chaska
Spouse: Terese
Children: Paul (30), Elizabeth (Gockowski) (24), Thomas (20), Joseph (17)
Education: Bachelor of Science Secondary Education, 1983; Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering, 1991
Birthplace: Rochester

What inspired you to pursue the diaconate?
Deacon Paul Carlson at (then) St. Lawrence in Dinkytown was a great preacher and teacher. I thought I should consider whether the diaconate was something I should pursue. There were a few people over the years who commented to me that I would make a good deacon.

What made you certain this was your call?
Four years in the program made me certain. There is work to do in the areas of intellectual, human, pastoral and spiritual formation. In the end, I have a sense peace about my calling. The whole idea of serving as a deacon is somewhat intimidating. I feel unworthy, but God has prepared me to do what he asks.

What aspect of diaconate ministry are you most looking forward to?
I look forward to serving at the altar. I’ve been an altar server, lector, sacristan and extra ordinary minister of the Eucharist. Now I will read the Gospel, preach a little and prepare for the Eucharistic sacrifice.

What areas of ministry are you especially interested in?
I have been visiting with prison inmates for about a year. I enjoy answering their questions about the bible and the faith and teaching them how to pray. I hope to continue with that. I would also enjoy teaching RCIA classes or helping in marriage preparation.

Where do you see the greatest needs in the local Church?
I like Pope Francis’ metaphor of the Church as a field hospital. Our culture is badly wounded and many people are suffering. We need an encounter with Jesus Christ. He will bring healing.

What part of your formation has been the most rewarding?
The formation process requires that we pray Morning and Evening Prayer from the Divine Office and that we do Lectio Divina daily. Our first academic course was in Spirituality. We studied the writings of some of the great Doctors of the Church such as Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola. I am trying to practice what they taught about growth in holiness. I’m on a much better path than I was.

Who has been a model for your ministry?
Deacon Paul Carlson at St Lawrence loved Jesus and he loved teaching about the Bible. He brought many people closer to the Lord. Deacon Jerry Saladin is a servant to those who are in hospitals and nursing homes. He is compassionate and a great listener. He worked with us during our internship to minister to people in the Hospital or Nursing Homes. Deacon Tim Zinda is doing great work leading the Archdiocesan ministry to those in prison.

What do you hope to offer the Church through this vocation?
We participated in the “Called and Gifted” workshop at the Cathedral. I have charisms in teaching and mercy. I hope that these gifts will help in building up of Church.

What has been the most challenging part of pursuing this vocation?
There just isn’t enough time. The Church has so much to offer and I just couldn’t learn or do as much as I wanted. That’s part of the growing process, though. I want to spend more time learning but God has asked me to do more than just learn. It’s time to serve.

What can the Church do to inspire other men to answer the diaconate calling?
I think good fruit has come from the Inquiry Sessions that the seminary puts on every year. I encourage people to think about the men in their parish or in their family. If you think a man would make a good deacon, tell him.

What advice would you give another man discerning the diaconate?
First, pray about it, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. Second, go to the inquiry sessions at the seminary. Third, fill out an application. The application process alone will answer quite a few questions. I think many men are called. I hope more take the steps necessary to discern the call.

Related:

Tags: , , ,

Category: Deacons