Transitional deacons delivering sermons, delivering service
Deacon Seth Arnold is now past the point of being nervous about delivering homilies at Mass.
“Fr. Devin has me preaching all of the Masses during the week and two of the three weekend Masses,” he said from his office at Christ the King. “There are a lot of good families here and it’s been a good experience so far.”
Fr. Devin Burns is the pastor of the Wichita parish.
“We also make regular homebound visits. Those are my two main duties. During the day I come over to my office, work on my homilies, answer the few emails that I have, chat with the office ladies, and try to help out in whatever way I can.”
Homily preparation a favorite task
But his favorite task so far, Deacon Arnold said, is being able to go deep into scripture to prepare his homilies.
One of the most intersting aspects of his summer so far has been his experiences visiting the homebound.
“They have been life-giving,” he said. “Last Friday I spent all morning going around to different people’s homes. It’s a very touching experience to be able to bring the Lord, physically, into their lives.”
Deacon Arnold said it was humbling to encounter each person, many of whom are long-time parishioners. “Hearing their stories and being someone they could talk to, being someone who could listen, it’s very humbling.”
Like Deacon Jon Tolberd, who is serving this summer at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg, Deacon Arnold has had some duties that the seminary doesn’t prepare future priests for.
Because the parish’s maintenance man is recovering from surgery, a few of Deacon Arnold’s duties are more practical. But the cleaning, painting, and other maintenance jobs have given him a chance to meet other parishioners.
“We have Totus Tuus coming in the last week of July,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to spending time with the school kids.”
Deacon Arnold’s duties at Christ the King will end in mid-August after which he’ll head north to Mundelein Seminary near Chicago.
The Rev. Mr. Jon Tolberd is honing his homily skills this summer – and learning about the last line of his job description: and all other duties as assigned.
Deacon Tolberd, who was ordained to the transitional diaconate in May, is spending the summer at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Pittsburg.
He was able to spend several days relaxing at Lake of the Ozarks after the ordination but after that he began discovering the duties of a deacon.
Our Lady of Lourdes is the second parish he has ministered at while a seminarian. He interned one year at St. Patrick Parish in Kingman.
“Primarily I preach once a day,” he said. Deacon Tolberd is also leading a class on apologetics – how to present reasoned arguments defending the faith. “We’ve talked about morality and we’re going to talk about marriage, Mary, the Eucharist, and maybe purgatory.”
Most of his time, though, is spent taking care of odd jobs around the parish.
“We’re starting an adult faith formation team and so one of the things I did was call all the people we want to be on that team. It took up a couple of days – mostly because I was dragging my feet on it.”
No class for bat removal
One recent job isn’t covered by any class at seminary.
“I was on bat-removal detail recently,” Deacon Tolberd said. “Yesterday I was going to get a cooler…and I found three bats that I had to remove from the building – two were alive. So that was 40 minutes of joy.”
He is also helping with the “incredibly active” youth group, he said. “It’s pretty much once a week if not two days a week.”
The youth recently took part in a “mystery trip” during which he and the youth did some plumbing, shingled a roof, and helped a woman organize and sort her possessions.
“You never know what the day will bring at any given moment,” he said. “It’s kind of an adventure and I like it a lot!” (Photo courtesy of OLL Parish.)