Faith journey guided by God
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
For one of the six men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate on May 1 at Cathedral of the Epiphany, he acknowledged that he didn’t know anything about the ministry until his parish clustered with a neighboring parish.
Richard Port of Westfield, a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Akron, pointed out that because his parish never had a deacon when a parishioner at St. Mary Church of Hawarden brought up the diaconate, it was a foreign concept to him.
“We were in the process of clustering parishes and in that process one of the ladies told me that I should see about being a deacon. I said, ‘See about being a what?’ I had no idea what a deacon was or what a deacon did,” he recalled. “I pursued it a little more and found out more information.”
Port and his wife, Dixie, have three children: Brian, 27, of Stockton, Calif., and 23-year-old twins Charles and Anthony, who are both in the Air Force and are stationed in Oklahoma City. Each boy is married and each has two children.
He pointed out that he began to give the diaconate serious consideration about seven years ago and then started in formation classes six years ago. Port mentioned that he had always been actively involved in his parish and felt the diaconate could be a way for him to serve church in fuller way.
“I thought I knew my Catholic faith pretty well but after those six years of schooling, I have a different respect and a different feeling for religion,” he said.
The 57-year-old deacon candidate noted that it was about half-way through his formation when he began to get a sense of what it meant to have a true calling to this ministry.
“I gained a deeper understanding that God had been directing me this way for a long time,” Port said. Upon coming to that understanding, after three years in the program he took a year-long break before entering the final phase of formation. He wanted more time to discern that this is where God wanted him to be and that he wanted to say yes to this commitment that would impact his family and retirement years.
And while the ministry of the diaconate wasn’t familiar to him a few years back, Port certainly is no stranger to parish involvement and ministry. He has served as a parish catechist for almost 25 years and over the course of the last 15 years he has taken on the volunteer role of DRE (director of religious education) on and off for about seven years. He has also lectored a number of years.
“I also taught four or five of the confirmation classes,” Port said. “I was always raised up with the attitude that it was important to be involved.”
Port pointed out that as a deacon he anticipates having even greater parish involvement, especially assisting his pastor with liturgical celebrations.
Ultimately, he finds great joy in knowing that through his work with parishioners they might better come to know God – a God who is loving, but has rules.
Port credited his Grandmother Schuetz for providing a strong Catholic example in his life by her devotion to the Mass and rosary.
“She lost her husband early, but continued on a faith journey raising 12 kids,” said Port, who noted that he also has an aunt who is a nun.
A computer field engineer by profession, he installs and troubleshoots computer systems for small hospitals and doctors’ offices. Because this occupation demands much out-of-town commitments, he is currently weighing his professional options right now as the work schedule isn’t a good fit with the deacon ministry.
“I am really looking forward to the ordination and to the Holy Spirit being an even bigger part of my life,” he said.
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