I am Ken Crawford, a newly ordained Catholic Deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento, California. I was ordained on June 30th, 2018 at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament by Bishop Jaime Soto. This website is a journal of my life as a Deacon. My intent is to post a journal entry every weekday morning (and perhaps some Saturdays) in 3 formats: video, audio podcast and text blog-post.
Some background on me:
I am a life-long Californian, born to fallen away Catholics. I was raised in Oakland, CA and occasionally attended the Methodist church as a child. I was baptized in the Methodist church as a youth. In middle school my parents divorced and I moved to Newark, CA for high school. However, for me I mostly consider those years a short stop-over and primarily consider myself a product of Oakland.
I attended college at California State University, Chico, better known as Chico State. By this point in my life, I was a “card carrying” atheist. If the internet had been a thing, I would have been one of those ‘harass everyone online’ atheists who see it as their job in life to demean all believers and impress everyone with their intellectual superiority. Luckily for me, the internet was just getting off the ground in the mid-90’s and so I had to limit myself to harassing the people I met in person. As we all know, we’re much more restrained when we have to stare a person in the face when we insult them, so while I was still a massive pain in the neck, public decorum prevented me from being too outlandish.
An early influence on my coming to faith was the musician David Wilcox. I was introduced to him by a joyful young woman who I had a minor crush on at the time when I was a junior in college. She was the only person in the world who could pull off the nickname ‘Bubbles’ and somehow not seem either infantile or ditsy. David Wilcox’s music was of the folksy guitar genre and he tread a delicate line between being a Christian musician and a secular one. His music is chock full of Christian themes, but he rarely uses the word God or Jesus. This was of course necessary for me to be willing to listen to it. Anything overtly Christian would have been an instant turn off.
Shortly thereafter I met the woman who, and I knew it the first moment I sat down across the table from her at a friend’s birthday party, would eventually become my wife. Wendy is a remarkable person and I am blessed to have her in my life and doubly blessed to have her as my wife. Her faith is very different than the one that eventually developed in me. Her’s has a quiet confidence. Her’s is based more in love and compassion than a search for the truth. That faith worked away at me like water on a jagged rock.
Sadly, I always assumed that quiet, loving, compassionate faith lacked strength and resolve. I had assumed that she would put the intellectual foundations of her faith aside over time but keep the loving gentle spirit that she had. That was why I was rudely and shockingly surprised when, with me down on one knee and ring in hand, she refused to marry me. What I saw in her eyes at that moment rocked me to my core.
I saw a woman who was deeply saddened by what she had to do. She loved me deeply and knew that her refusal would mean the end of our relationship. But she also knew that a marriage to the atheist version of me would be disastrous to her faith. She knew she just couldn’t marry me and be the person she wanted to be. And flowing from that knowledge was a strength in her I could not have possibly fathomed before that moment. Even more troubling to the atheist version of me was that it was blazingly apparent that this strength was not coming from her, but from God flowing through her.
It opened my eyes to a power I had never imagined before. I saw God for the first time in my life.
The following week I found myself in the parish office of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church talking with Deacon Steve Schwartz and his wife Katie. They led the RCIA process (the process for converting to Catholicism) at that parish. That was in the fall of 1998.
I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering in December of that year, went to work for Hewlett Packard in Roseville in January of 1999, received the sacraments of Confession, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter that Spring and married Wendy in July.
I’ve spent the last 19 years growing closer to God and raising a family. During that time, I realized how much of the Catholic faith had subtly transferred to me from my fallen away Catholic parents. The Catholic faith is like a really strong virus. It refuses to completely go away, even when people are fighting it off. In the oddest of ways, becoming Catholic was a journey home to something that had always both been inside me and instilled in me by my parents, despite their best intentions otherwise.
As for becoming a Deacon, Deacon Schwartz, in addition to being a wonderful leader of the RCIA program, showed me something else that would end up being instrumental to my faith: The role of the Catholic Deacon. By the time Wendy and I were married, I knew deep in my heart I was called to the Diaconate. But being a married Deacon was for people in their mid-30’s and older, so I knew I had to wait and grow in the faith before I applied.
I first inquired with the diocese in April of 2010 at the age of 34. They sent me the application for the next cycle in the fall of 2012. I spent the next year working my way through the application process. Formation started in January of 2014 and I was ordained in June of 2018 at the age of 42.