By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Ask eight newly ordained deacons how they received their call to serve and you will receive eight different answers.
• Dave Healy: “I would say it was God who called me because I don’t believe anyone else would have been that optimistic about me.”
• Daniel Esteban: “I believe God is calling me to continue to serve in the Hispanic community and to help coexist within the English-speaking community.”
• Ralph McNeal: “I wanted to be a priest when I was a child. When they revitalized the diaconate, I knew the vocation was still there and I wanted to be part of it.”
• Chuck Koesterer: “My first experience with permanent diaconate was in the early days of our time at St. James (in Liberty) with Deacon Carl Hilts. I always had the sense of being pulled to serve Christ’s church.”
• Doug Hemke: “I was drawn to the diaconate as a natural evolution of my faith. I was pointed in the right direction and encouraged along the way by Msgr. Robert Murphy and Father Greg Haskamp, two of the finest, most spiritual men I will ever know.”
• Michael Gates: “I was positively impacted through the witness of several permanent deacons I know. God has placed a love in me for the church and the sacrements and the desire to serve him in his people, especially those in most need.”
• Joseph Whitson: “I felt the calling for some time but chose to ignore it until the Spirit, also working through others, saw this as God’s mission for me and urged me to pay attention and pursue this vocation.”
• Kevin Cummings: “God.”
Bishop Robert W. Finn administered Holy Orders and the rank of deacon to all eight men June 4 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception that was filled with family, friends and faithful.
“These men have sought to answer God’s call with the offering and oblation of their lives,” Bishop Finn said in his homily in which he spoke of the special call to the diaconate that dates to the church’s earliest days.
“As a minister of charity, the deacon distributes the goods of this world for the hope of God’s people and he does so with a supernatural motive — the love of Jesus Christ,” he said.
“Even more than serving the material needs of the people, the deacon is called to minister to the spiritual hunger and thirst of human souls,” the bishop said.
“As a minister of the Gospel, the hope of the risen Christ must be proclaimed so that the one who is cared for is assured that they are loved — loved by God, loved by the church, and loved for all eternity with a dignity that can never be doubted and which must never be taken away,” Bishop Finn said.
“Our brothers have heard this call,” he said. “Jesus has spoken to their hearts. He has chosen them as his instruments for spreading the Gospel.”
Bishop Finn also had praise for the wives of the new deacons: Mary Cummings, Carmen Esteban, Denise Gates, Moira Healy, Mignon Hemke, Beth Kosterer, Becky McNeal and Marcia Whitson.
“You have prayed and worked together to prepare for this special day,” Bishop Finn said. “We share their joy and commend them in a special way to Mary and Joseph that they may be holy families seeking heaven together through an ever stronger mutual love and fidelity.”