My Journey to the Diaconate

My Journey to the Diaconate by Deacon Arvol Bartok

          My faith journey to the Diaconate was a little unconventional. God calls us in many ways, and reflecting back, it is through the grace of God that I am here as a Deacon serving you, his people. I just had to cooperate with HIS plan.

          I grew up in Charlestown, Indiana and was baptized, confirmed and attended St. Michael church and school. Back in the 60’s we received our first communion and confirmation in the same year!! The good Sisters at school led our formation. I loved my church and faith (and still do).

          Problems at home with my parents separated me from the Catholic Church, but not my faith. My father was Catholic, but my mother wasn’t. They divorced and I was removed from my church family when I was in the 5th grade. I was devastated.

          I have always been faith filled, but I left the Catholic Church and it was just Jesus and me for many years. As an adult, I hopped from church to church, never really being satisfied, because I knew the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith and other churches never stacked up. They didn’t have the Eucharist.

          Fast forward 30 years, after the breakup and divorce of my first marriage, I met the love of my life, Janet, who was a strong, practicing Catholic. She made it very clear to me that she wanted someone to go to church with her and practice the Catholic faith. I went to confession, got an annulment, married Janet, and was reinstated in Holy Mother Church. We have never stopped being faithful.

          While we were attending St. Andrew Church in Tipton, Deacon Paul Poulter invited me to look at the Diaconate. I told him he was crazy, because I was a sinful man, and they wouldn’t want me. Deacon Paul was persistent, though. He never stopped asking me, so one day, I visited the Diaconate Office at the Chancery in Jefferson City. Prayed about it, made an application, was accepted and went through formation. Through all of this process,  I prayed and told myself that if God really wanted me to do this, he would see me through it. Well, I was not asked to leave (even though I was expecting them to ask me to leave) and was ordained on April 30, 2016.

          God’s master plan was never on my radar screen, but he provided me everything I needed to bring me back to the Church, and gave me the tools to serve his people in his Church. I can honestly say that by serving the people in my ministry in the nursing homes, homebound, RCIA and various other things that it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. God knew what I needed more than I did. God’s handiwork was ever present; I just needed to say Yes.

          If this is on your heart, pray about it. God might be calling you. God’s ways are bigger than our ways and you might have the talents God needs for you to serve his people. I encourage you to visit with our Pastor, talk to other Deacons and pray about it. May God guide your path like he did mine.