Deacon Dad

By: Christina Ferrari

What a summer this has been for me and my family. I spent the first half of summer interning at Oregon State University’s residence life department where I helped develop an FYE (First Year Experience) Program. Then, I had the opportunity to travel with my partner of six years to Rome and take a class at Loyola University’s Chicago Rome Center (blog posts about that coming soon!). When I returned, I moved into a new apartment and began a new position as Assistant Resident Director at University of Illinois Chicago. In the midst of all this change, my father was undergoing a spiritual shift. In fact, for the last four years he has been in the formation process of becoming a deacon. Much like a leader in other spiritual communities, a deacon in the Catholic church can preach and is more or less the priest’s right hand man. He assists with mass, can lead the congregation in reflections, and performs baptisms, funerals, and other sacraments or spiritual milestones in a Catholic’s life.

If you would have told me when this journey first began that my father of all people would be chosen to receive this position I would have laughed and called you a liar. But, as I have seen over the months and years his spirituality has truly blossomed. His relationship with my mom has developed new dimensions and the process has taught him to be a little more selfless, a little more patient, and a lot less rushed. I hope his service in the Church is filled with humility, compassion, and a genuine desire to help others.

Now, as happy as I am for him, to be completely honest the thought of my father being a person of power in my faith community freaks me out. My faith is something that has quietly shaped the friendships I’ve had in college, my life’s calling, and my worldview and I never felt that my parents-- let alone my dad--had much to do with this process. He was the guy who would show up late to church, sit in the back, spend the entire service going through the motions, and would usually leave five minutes early if he could. I’ve learned a lot from this man, but how to be a good, faithful Catholic was never at the top of the list. Yet, there are things in this universe we aren’t meant to understand and seeing my dad be ordained as deacon this weekend has made me, dare I say, proud and reminded that adult development is a lifelong process.

We talk about it in student affairs class, and this weekend I witnessed first-hand that while college can be a transformational period in an adult’s life, it is one of many opportunities for a person to grow. The learning, changing, and growing doesn’t stop after college, graduate school, getting married, having children, or turning 50. It is amazing that the people who have told us all our lives they are proud of us can turn around and do things that make us proud to be their children. Dad, I know this is a big change for you, Mom, and the rest of the family. I’m happy for you, a little nervous for what this all means, and most of all, excited to see you continue to grow in unexpected ways.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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