Deacon Powers takes cues from father, a permanent deacon

| May 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
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Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

John Powers was a junior at St. John’s University in Collegeville when he jumped at the chance to spend a three-day weekend within the abbey of the Benedictine monks who founded the school. He wasn’t thinking about joining their community, he said; he was simply intrigued by their life and knew it might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although the monastery sat in the heart of campus, students weren’t ordinarily permitted in its confines.

Now 27, he credits that weekend with opening his heart to the priesthood.

“I was really impressed with the sense of fraternity and community they had as monks,” he said, but he didn’t think he was supposed to become a Benedictine. Instead, he felt drawn to parish life. But considering the priesthood meant rethinking his well-planned career path. For Powers, that wasn’t easy.

A history buff, Powers had mapped out a path to his goal of working as an archivist. His senior year, however, as he applied to graduate school, he was surprised to find his heart wasn’t in it. After graduating from St. John’s in 2009, he decided to try seminary and “stay until they told me I should go.”

That moment never came.

Seminary was a challenge, he admitted, especially the first two years. At times he thought he should join the monastery, he said, because life there might be easier.

He persevered, convinced he was following God’s will. His teaching parish is St. Hubert in Chanhassen, but he has also served at St. Peter, Forest Lake; St. Jude of the Lake, Mahtomedi, and St. Joseph, West St. Paul. He spent his hospital chaplaincy at the VA hospital.

As he pursued his vocation, he looked to another man who had answered a call: his father, Deacon Mike Powers, who was ordained in 2001.

Deacon John Powers said his father’s best advice originated with Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn: “Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.”

“In this day and age, people come to the Church because they want things from you, and they want to reach God. Just the importance of respecting where they’re at and being kind to them,” Deacon John Powers said.

It was advice Deacon Mike Powers received during his own diaconate training. He ministers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in northeast Minneapolis, where the younger Deacon Powers and his older sister — a social worker in Nashville — grew up. His mother, Marge, is business administrator at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony.

The future Father Powers attended Pope John Paul II Catholic School and St. Anthony Village High School in Minneapolis.

“My parents were always open about vocations,” he said, adding they told him he should do whatever he felt God was calling him to do.

Deacon Mike Powers said he and Marge “are immensely proud that he [Deacon John Powers] has chosen to answer God’s call in this way.”

The father looks forward to serving at the altar with his son, he said. Already, they’ve ministered as deacons together at several Masses.

“It’s been a blessing. It really has,” Deacon Mike Powers said of sharing the diaconate with his son. “It’s created a bond that goes beyond that of a father and son.”

He added: “We have a common faith, common ministry, common experience. Both of us have both become more aware of the unity of the diaconate between the permanent diaconate and the transitional diaconate. So many times in archdiocesan programs they’re separated, but this has helped us see the unity between the two.”

An organizer by nature, Deacon John Powers likes to bring his classmates together for board games and cards, he said. He expects to take that unifying impulse into his parish work.

“My goal is to be a good link in a chain,” Deacon Powers said. “I want to be a good, solid priest that helps connect one generation to the next generation of faith. I want to help the people of God live out their lives.”

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Category: Ordinations