Permanent deacons reflect on 25th anniversaries
25 Years as a Deacon
Deacon Robert G. Beaumont Sr.
Most of my adult life I have tried to live a Christian ethic. My wife Helen and I have been married 60 years and have eight children and are proud grandparents and great-grandparents.
What prompted me to the diaconate was the example of two very dear friends and deacons at Christ the King Church. Once I answered my calling to this second vocation, I never looked back but only forward to a ministry of service.
For most of my 25 years, I worked with the Metropolitan Tribunal to help civilly divorced people procure annulments.
When I retired from parish ministry, I began volunteering at West Jefferson General Hospital and immediately saw to the needs of people who are at the most vulnerable times of their lives. I have been able to offer emotional, spiritual and secular comfort. This hospital ministry has been the most fulfilling part of my diaconate ministry.
Deacon Peter E. Duffy
“Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God) has been my purpose in life from the time I attended Jesuit High School and Loyola University, married Jane Suhor Duffy and helped rear five children, was ordained a permanent deacon on Dec. 12, 1987, served at St. Maria Goretti Church and with the archdiocesan Metropolitan Tribunal. Although my parish work has ended, I am still serving on the tribunal.
The greatest joy I have experienced is sharing my spiritual life with parishioners through preaching, baptizing new members into the Mystical Body of Christ, and sharing his life in Scripture study groups. My second greatest joy is my prayer life, consisting of reading daily the Liturgy of the Hours, meditating on the psalms, Scripture readings and prayers and daily attendance at Mass and receiving the holy Eucharist.
Truthfully, the only disappointment I have experienced is my inability to convey my spiritual experiences to others as effectively as I would wish, except in the manner that I live my faith.
Deacon J. Vernon Insley
For me, becoming a deacon was a life-altering event. When I entered the formation program in 1984, I was a typical product of the age. I was concerned with income, job promotion, the colleges my kids would attend, etc.
During formation, my attitude and my outlook changed. I realized there are more important things in the world. The most important is how I, my family members, my relatives and friends will spend eternity. The emphasis of my life now is to help everyone I know to live the way God wants.
Deacon Albert A. Levy
I served at St. Mark in Chalmette until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I felt loved and appreciated there. With the coming of Katrina, the church was destroyed, along with our home. My wife, the two grandchildren we are raising and I evacuated to Northeast Mississippi. I found I was not accepted as a deacon there. I could not find a church at which to serve.
I realized I had taken my ministry for granted. In New Orleans, I had been readily accepted; now I felt as if I were in exile. I often sat at Mass, actually tearing up, frustrated that I was not at the altar.
In 2007, we moved to Tickfaw, La. I was immediately welcomed by the Dominicans and the people of Our Lady of Pompeii Parish. I have a new appreciation of my ministry, and I warmly embrace the love and acceptance of those parishioners. I thank God for bringing me home again.
Deacon Noel W. Martinsen
My life has been challenged by ministry to the permanent diaconate. My first sacrament is to matrimony of almost 42 years and walking the line between family, work and diaconate.
I can tell you that it is not an easy road to maneuver but one worth the effort. Often times the “road less traveled” can be the one of trusting in the Lord even more today than 25 years ago.
Whatever love I have extended to others has been returned many times over by the people of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Divine Mercy parishes. I have been fortunate to have been able to live and minister to a community I have been a part of for over 30 years and one in which my family has been a part of over the years.
Deacon August B. Mendel
After 25 years of diaconate service in four different parishes of the archdiocese, I find it very fulfilling to have the honor of baptizing the children that I have. Also, it has been a joy working with the young people that I have had the privilege to witness in marriage. For the last 16 years as chaplain at Tulane Lakeside Hospital, I have had the privilege to bring the Eucharist and pray with and for the patients, and at times, perform emergency baptisms.
I am now retired, but I still am chaplain at Tulane Lakeside Hospital. I would like to thank my wife Audrey for her support.
Deacon Louis N. Mire
As a native of Madisonville, I find that one of the blessings of my diaconate ministry here and in Mandeville has been the opportunity to serve lifelong friends: baptizing their children and grandchildren, witnessing renewals of marriage vows, being a comfort as a very familiar face during final rites for loved ones.
From retirement, I look back and realize how spiritually rewarding it is for my family to be part of the diaconate community, a group doing its best to do God’s will. I cannot imagine my life without that experience.
Special thanks to three of my pastors for their guidance over the years: Monsignors Frank Giroir and Ken Hedrick and Father Michael Schneller.
Deacon Peter C. Rizzo
When applying for the diaconate the aspirant must meet with and obtain his pastor’s blessing before applying to the program. I will never forget my meeting with Msgr. Charles Plauché.
After completing our discussion and receiving a favorable nod, he asked me, “Do you have any concerns about doing this?” I told him that I felt unworthy. He paused, looked at me intently and responded, “Pete, none of us are worthy.”
That made me feel a lot better, but more importantly, it helped me to know that God loves us in our strengths and weaknesses, and that we should never doubt God’s love and mercy.
I have tried to incorporate that same message in my ministry. Approval of the aspirant’s spouse is also required before acceptance, and participation by the wives in classes and diaconal ministry is encouraged. In addition to parish involvement, my wife Gayle and I have been blessed through our work in engaged, marriage and Natural Family Planning ministries. This has led to many opportunities to learn and to grow in our relationship with one another and with God.
Through this work we were exposed to Blessed John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” which has helped us to understand that the unity experienced in sacramental marriage gives married couples a tiny glimpse of how God lives and loves. What a blessing!
Deacon John C. Weber
Some of my most memorable moments relate to baptizing 13 grandchildren, RCIA, taking Communion to dying persons and proclaiming the Gospel and giving homilies.
Many times after proclaiming the Gospel and before delivering a homily, I reflect on the privilege and responsibility of doing so. It amazes me that I have served under only two pastors – the late Msgr. Richard Carroll and my present pastor, Msgr. Lanaux Rareshide – both of whom treated me with respect and kindness. There have been no regrets or disappointments in God’s chosen path for my life.
There is no doubt whatsoever that I am a better deacon because of my wife Jaynell and that being a deacon has enabled me to be a better husband, father, grandfather and friend.
God’s life agenda for me has been so much better than the agenda I was planning to carry out, however difficult the specific challenges were for me at times. There were situations where I did not initially want to be “molded.”
Deacon Clifford S. Wright
My life as a deacon over the past 25 years has given me the opportunity to fulfill the reason that I was created, which is to promote God’s kingdom on earth.
Having the faculties to preach, marry couples and baptize has been very important to me because I am able to influence people concerning the good news of Jesus Christ. Finally, I am grateful to God for the graces he has given me to fulfill my duties as a deacon.