A blessed feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. I’m Deacon Ken Crawford and this is my 2nd day of my video journal as a newly ordained deacon. I was ordained 3 days ago on Saturday, June 30th. I encourage you to go look at yesterday’s video, my first day, talking about the ordination itself. Today as promised I’m going to talk about my first time serving back at my home parish as a deacon and some the experiences around that.
One of the things that was very unique about our parish, was that we had 3 people in formation. 3 of us were ordained: Myself, Larry and Kevin. Which is very, very rare. In fact, this was already a big class, at 27 deacons. That’s out of 100 or parishes. Thus most parishes have none, and most of the candidates were the lone candidate from that parish. I think there were 2 or 3 that had 2, but we were the only one with 3 and the only one I’ve ever heard of with 3. It was a great joy because we went through the process together. One of the consequences of that unfortunately was the bishop felt the need to assign one of us elsewhere to kinda spread the riches.
It is important to know that deacons do not serve a parish. They serve the bishop and the diocese. We don’t give fidelity to our pastor. We give fidelity to the bishop. So when he says, you need to be assigned somewhere else, we’re obliged to go. Kevin with all humility has done exactly that and he has been a great example to us of how to do that. It was always the joke that I was going to be the one to be assigned elsewhere. I have some history at a parish, kinda the next parish over. I was a parishioner there for many years. But apparently the joke is not on me and Kevin had to take on that; a little bit more difficult role. It’s much more comfortable to be at your home parish.
But for this one first mass, all 3 of us got to serve at our home parish. Let me tell you, it was one busy altar. We had the pastor, the parochial vicar, because this was a big celebration, the 3 of us, 8 altar servers, which was made up of our kids. That was a lot of people on the altar. The sign of peace was a mass of chaos.
We also had to split up the roles. I did all the little parts. I did the penitential rite pieces. I did the prayers of the faithful and a couple other things like ‘go in peace’ and what have you. Kevin did the homily and the proclaiming of the gospel. Larry did the Eucharistic stuff around preparing the altar and pouring the wine and all of those pieces. That was nice because we only had to focus on our little part.
For me, I wrote down all my lines on a card so I would be 100% confident. Because you know it’s so different to actually do it than to hear it in the pew. From the pew you say, “Oh yeah, I know this inside and out; I’ve heard it for years and years and years”. It’s very different when you need to remember “contrite of heart” or “contrite in spirit” or what’s the exact word? Thus I wanted to have a note card. Then, as things go, the note card was in the wrong pocket. My alb has one ‘pocket’ that goes through to my pants pocket and the other that is a seamed in pocket in the actual alb itself. I had put this (the note card) in my pant pocket in the side that didn’t actually go through. So I couldn’t even get to my note card and I had to do it all from memory. It was a little bit of a comedy of errors. I messed up little words here and there.
One of the things I was reminded of in that is that I think one of the graces of ordination is being able to make mistakes on the altar and not make it look like a catastrophe. Priest and deacons are very good at that. Mistakes happen all the time and they just act as if it is normal. They just correct and move on. That is something that I’m going to have to work on. I don’t know that I did poorly in that regard, but I definitely didn’t have the grace of movement, for sure at the end, I was very slow on the last line, “The Mass is ended, go in peace.” I was just not ready for that being my line. We didn’t have our microphones on like we usually do because there were so many of us on the altar. Thus I had to then run over to the ambo, proclaim that, and then run back. That probably wasn’t the most graceful moment as well. But I think over time it is something I will just need to grow into. You do this week after week after week and becomes very comfortable and natural. I should be kind with myself and know it takes time to get those things right.
I want to say a special thank you to our pastor, Fr. George who has been so supportive throughout the who process. He bought us a couple albs. He bought us a dalmatic. He paid for our ordination dalmatic that we needed down at the diocese, at the cathedral. He’s been wonderful throughout the whole process. Every deacon candidate would be blessed to have someone like him as their pastor. A big thank you to him. That’s been so important to have a pastor who has supported us throughout the formation. He also told us to take it slow at first; don’t jump right in; be patient with ourselves; learn the role as we go.
As I said I want to keep these short so I’m going to wrap it up there. Tomorrow I’m going to talk a little bit more about a couple of aspects of formation. We’ll be able go through a number of things in the days and weeks to come.
A blessed Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle to you. May God bless you in all that you do. Know that God’s love is always with you and He cares for you deeply. I will pray for you. I will pray for your families. Thank you for tuning in. A special welcome to those who came from ‘The Deacon Bench’, from Deacon Greg’s blog. Welcome and I hope you enjoy these. And God willing, I’ll see you all tomorrow.