“I continue to be spellbound by the graces I have received.”
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of personal vocation stories from seminarians, religious women, deacons and priests in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Some 20 years ago, at the ripe old age of 50 or so, my wife, Mary, and I visited the Holy Lands with Mary’s brother, Bill, and his wife. Bill is a deacon in the Episcopal Church.
I had converted to Catholicism several years earlier so that Mary and I could be married in the Church and I was riding high, full of the spirit, and still anxious to learn.
The more we discussed the diaconate on our trip and upon the return, the deeper my interest grew in the vocation. So about six months after our return, I inquired and applied for the next diaconate formation class, which was to start in 2000. I like to jokingly tell the story that Mary actually ran down and filled out my application for me when she learned that if she died after I was ordained, that I would not be able to remarry. She liked the idea of that!
After 14 years of ordination to the diaconate, I continue to be spellbound by the graces I have received, most of them to the good. Others are more challenging but leading to growth and places I never dreamed of. The Holy Spirit is indeed full of surprises!
I have served at St. Ambrose Parish in Salt Lake City since my ordination in 2004. I assist and regularly take my turn preaching at weekend and weekday Masses, and also serve on the parish council and teach RCIA. I also make hospital visits and help my wife, Mary, with homebound ministry. In serving as chancellor of the diocese, I also assist the bishop at Cathedral of the Madeleine services and in his travels to dedications and priestly visits. It is a great joy assisting Bishop Oscar A. Solis at cathedral events and in outlying areas.
I would advise anyone discerning religious life to be open-minded and a good listener. Although prayer and research are an important part of the discernment process, I have found that the Good Lord speaks to me most importantly through other people. Listen to your family, listen to your friends, shadow those involved in a vocation or ministry, and ask questions over and over again. Moreover, just know that some days will be better than others as you continue to discern during your journey, but continue to trust in His providence, have confidence in the cross, be sure to stay hitched up to the Holy Spirit and witness to the joy of the Gospel.
Deacon George Reade is chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.