Ministries in parish grow into calling to diaconate
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
About 11 years ago Darwin Messerly took the job as custodian at Sacred Heart Grade School in Boone so he could be close to his family and work for the church.
“I wanted to spend more time with my kids. They were enrolled at Sacred Heart,” he said.
His desire to serve the church continued to grow.
“I’ve always felt a desire to serve the church – even back in the 90s - so I had volunteered but it never felt like it was enough or that it filled the void completely,” said Messerly.
After volunteering for the parish’s youth ministry program for a number of years, about six years ago the parish opted to hire him as the full-time youth minister. At that point, he took classes related to the ministry and became a certified youth minister. His role in the parish expanded further about two years ago when the DRE left and he took on that as well.
He pointed out that it was Father Steve McLoud, former associate pastor at Sacred Heart, who mentioned the diaconate to him in the year 2000.
“Father McLoud is an excellent priest and he is my spiritual director,” said Messerly, a native of Fort Dodge and graduate of St. Edmond High School. “Throughout the years, we’ve become very good friends.”
“As an altar boy, he laid the law down with me and it was good,” Messerly said.
Early on in life – through his family and Catholic school - he said he learned importance of serving God.
“We owe God everything,” Messerly said.
Eventually, he came to know and understand that he was being called by God to the diaconate.
In 2002, he attended a deacon informational meeting in Fort Dodge and by that fall he had entered the program. While the formation program for the diaconate usually takes about five years to complete he took a break from his studies after a fire destroyed his home.
“And then, the way classes were set up, I had to set out another year,” he noted. “But that was fine by me because this is a lifelong ministry. Since I was already working in youth ministry and getting into the DRE position, I think I was right where God wanted me to be. I wasn’t in a hurry or impatient.”
Messlery, 41, is one of six men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate in a May 1 ceremony at the Cathedral of the Epiphany.
Darwin and his wife, Julie, have four children: Amanda, 22; Brandon, 20; Rebecca, 12 and Caitlynn, 10.
“They have all been supportive of me,” he said. “They have encouraged me throughout the process.”
Julie Messerly said it was nice to see ordination just around the corner as her husband has worked really hard to get to this point.
“He feels that this is something he has to do and I think he will be good at it,” she said. “He is really caring and is a good listener; I think those are two big things that will help him as a deacon.”
Messerly said he will continue with the position of DRE after the ordination. One of the main changes he envisions is a more visible role in liturgical celebrations. To help prepare for that, he led the Stations of the Cross throughout Lent and he has found the deacon formation program to be helpful.
“I look forward to serving the parishioners more fully in a spiritual way,” he said.
As a deacon, he will be able to do baptisms and funerals.
“I can usually connect with families and people,” Messerly said. “They see me as right on their playing level.”
“I can’t give her enough credit for her patience with me throughout the years and her unconditional love,” Messerly said. “Sacred Heart Parish has been helpful. The parishioners have been very supportive of me.”
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