Stephen Brunet, Candidate for Diaconate (First Row, Middle)
Q. When did you begin to feel the call to the Diaconate and how did the call manifest?
Stephen. Let me tell you a story. “In 2004, my wife and if went to the LSU lakes for a picnic. Sitting beside the lake Danette looks at me and says, ‘have you ever considered the Diaconate? I think you would make a really good deacon.’” I was astonished and not really sure what it was all about.
Throughout my years of formation for the diaconate, I’ve pondered why her question was so powerful and moving for me. I believe she watered a seed that was planted in my childhood—a call to the priesthood. I didn’t respond to that call, mostly, because I don’t think I really understood it.
In 1993, Danette and I were dating and we went to a Peace Mass and at the end of the Mass there was an altar call for all who felt that God was calling them to a religious vocation. In that Mass, I had a physical and emotional response to this call. I felt a physical push toward the altar and an emotional response to the call to come forward. During this call the priest moved around the perimeter of the church, when he reached the rear of the church (we were sitting in the last pew) he stopped. He said that he felt a strong presence nearby. It was an unforgettable experience.
In 2004, I contacted the Director for Deacons and began taking classes. The Program for Deacons is a five year discernment process. After several years of classes, it was time to move into the next phase of formation. Both husband and wife are interviewed and both have to be willing to face the change and sacrifice Ordination will bring to family life. After the interviews, I was asked to wait three years and apply for next class because there were still some concerns over the time required. Three years later, when the next class began, those concerns were laid to rest and I entered formation.
Q. Do you feel called to a certain aspect of ministry?
Stephen. Yes. The Diaconate has been described as a three-legged stool—word, altar and charity being the three legs. The word is preaching and teaching. The altar is performing liturgical celebrations—baptisms, weddings, funerals and serving at the altar during Mass. Charity is ministry to the poor and needy—prison ministry, nursing home and hospital ministries and other such ministries
I feel most called to the word. I am a technical writer by trade and many of my charisms are in the area of communication. I feel a strong call to preach and teach.
Q. What has your training been like?
Stephen. I have five years behind me but the year coming up is the most difficult and intense. In the fall, I will take courses on Liturgy, Canon Law and Marriage (with Fr. Vincent) and Fundamental Catholic Theology. In the spring, another Canon Law, Parish Administration and another Homiletics courses.
Q. Finally, what’s the next step?
Stephen. I am beginning the final 12 months leading to ordination. In this last year, there are two tasks to accomplish. The school schedule listed above and a ten month internship. I have been assigned to St. Jean Vianney and report to Deacon Dan Borne as my deacon supervisor. He will provide opportunities and direction for me to learn and grow as a deacon in parish life.
In the next twelve months, I will juggle a full time job, family life, school and an internship at St. Jean Vianney. All of which lead up to the opportunity for Ordination to the Diaconate in June 2017. Please keep me in your prayers.