Kirk Duplantis, Candidate for Diaconate (First Row, Left)
Kirk. It’s a long story which began in my mid to late twenties. I knew it was way too early for me to consider this ministry but the call was there. My wife, Rosalyn, and I became involved in youth ministry and this call from God grew as time passed. In 1999, I enrolled in Religious Studies Institute (RSI), a formation program for the Diocese of Baton Rouge administered through St. Joseph Seminary College. This program trained lay leaders and was a prerequisite for diaconate formation. After completing RSI, I realized that I still wasn’t ready to take the next step in formation for the diaconate. I still had small children at home and a new job. About this same time, I stepped away from youth ministry to fulfill obligations to a new job. This was a dark time for me. I missed youth ministry. I yearned for something more and felt that the diaconate was in the distant future. Years passed, my children grew and my job changed. In 2014, I met a friend from RSI who is now a deacon. He said there’s a new class starting. You should join it. I struggled and prayed about this decision. Eventually, I felt God was calling me back to formation for the diaconate.
When I look back, I see how God was working in my life. My job which had taken me out of formation and youth ministry had prepared me, in many ways, when it was time to return to formation. My work put me in contact with people who needed prayer, financial assistance, and to learn of God’s love for them. I returned to the spiritual formation I had missed during “the dark time” of transition a few years ago. I have no doubts that this is where God is calling me.
Q. Do you feel called to a certain aspect of ministry?
Kirk. Both Roz and I feel called to serve the poor, less fortunate and those that no one seems to hear. Through marriage God has prepared me to serve in this ministry. Roz has always had this calling to help those in need. In my sin, I sometimes found her mission to constantly help those in need frustrating. God puts each of us in certain situations for a reason, marriage to Roz and working for the Knights of Columbus were both situations which prepared my heart to see this mission and be willing to embrace it.
We also feel called to mentor to married couples. We have been involved with preparing couples for marriage through home based meetings. We have seen couples well suited to marriage, others not recommended to marry and one couple whose marriage has failed. During marriage preparation with couples, issues will surface that we know, in time, will cause problems. Roz and I both feel called to a mentorship with some of these couples. We would like a chance to work with these couples before the problems arise or the marriage dissolves. Currently, the diocese does not have a mentorship program for married couples. We want an opportunity to change that. We know that all couples have problems. Roz and I have had our share of problems. A couple mentoring us, may have helped some of our struggles. Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken of the importance of marriage and family life. Modern life certainly has many misconceptions and false teachings about marriage. We feel called to go back to the beginning and help couples form their marriage the way God intended it.
Q. Tell me about your training.
My training was split in two segments 1999-2001 and 2014 to present. I think doing it this way was a blessing for me. Classes can be intense. I had to learn better time management skills to be equipped to handle a job, class work, ministry in the church and family life. I have learned many things. Classes have focused on scripture, pastoral car, liturgy, evangelization, social justice and many other things. I would like to continue this education. I’m considering a degree in theology.
Q. From your answers to other questions, it’s clear that Rozalyn supports your decision to become a deacon. What do your children think of it?
Kirk. When I knew that I would return to the diaconate program, Roz and I decided to call all of the children together and tell them at one time. We wanted all of them to hear it from us and to be able to answer any questions they had. When we asked them to come over that we had something to tell them, they were anxious and worried. When we told them, I was returning to the diaconate program, they said we’ve been waiting for that. Why did you call us all together? We thought it was something bad.
Both Roz and I have been heavily involved in ministry for their entire lives. They know that I am the spiritual leader of our family. They have been waiting for this next step.
Formation and submission to the church and God’s will changes you. The children have watched these changes take place. I think they are shocked at how well formed we have become. We hope the grace of Ordination will continue these changes. Ordination is a responsibility. We want them to be holy not because they are the deacon’s son or daughter rather because God wants them to be holy. We are still forming children and helping to form grandchildren. We want to be good examples of a deacon and his wife.
Q. Finally, what is the next step?
Kirk. Several things are coming up.
Fr. Jamin David is the new Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate and he has instituted a few new policies. A ten month internship for deacons is one of the changes. I have been assigned to Most Blessed Sacrament for the next ten months. This internship will give the opportunity for me to assist with baptisms, funerals and marriages. I will teach at baptismal seminars, RCIA. I will assist at communion services at nursing homes and hospitals. I will get to experience the roll of a deacon at Advent and Lent. These are amazing experiences.
I will write a theological reflection on a moment or event in the parish which affected me and another person. I will set goals and move toward ordination.
I have two semesters of course work left.
Officially there are three rites leading to Ordination. On January 8 2016, I was received into the ministry of Lector. In October, I will receive the ministry of Acolyte which includes not simply assisting at Eucharist, but distributing the Communion. In ancient times, acolytes were the official ministers of the Eucharist to the sick and homebound. Some were caught and martyred for carrying out this ministry. Then in June 2017, I will be ordained a permanent deacon.