Friday, June 7, 2013

The end of the year and candidacy

In a little over four hours from now I will be leaving for another deaconate formation weekend, the second of our classes on the Synoptic Gospels. I do so with something approaching mixed emotions, firstly because the end of our classes will apparently not mean the end of class work (it appears that we will have at least one more paper to write, but that's okay, it goes with the territory), but moreso because I found last year entering into the summer recess that I missed many of my Aspirant brethren tremendously. I think that a bond has formed between many of us from all over the diocese, and certainly between myself and the other two Aspirants in my deanery, Steve Helmbrecht and Don Griffith. I find that I look forward with a great deal of anticipation each month to our class sessions and meetings as much for the communio and (sometimes very deep) discussions we have outside of class as for the learning I get in the classroom. It is wonderful to be among men who love the Lord and the Church as much as you do, and who aspire to devote their lives more fully to the service of God. There are times when the joy seems infectious when we are together.

It is also interesting to note how close we seem to have become to many of the hotel staff. Last month we learned of the departure from the staff of the dear lady who has taken care of us from the beginning of our journey together. I cannot speak to the feelings of the others in the class regarding this development, but I was very sorry to hear of it. She remembered all of us by name and took such care to see to it that our needs were met. I have always gotten the same accessible room on the first floor because she saw to it, and I've always gotten an automated e-mail, usually a couple of days before we were due to be there, letting me know that my room would be ready. I noted that this month I have not received such an e-mail, and I told Nicole that I hope that I have a room!

This month I will submit the letters from Nicole and from myself requesting that Bishop Stika admit me to candidacy for Holy Orders, which if he does so, will happen in October. My mentor told me that it was his experience that the men who make it to candidacy together will likely be ordained together, so it is now that I will ask for everyone's prayers for my own continued discernment, for my growth in charity, and that the Holy Spirit will guide me and conform me into what God would want me to be, and that hopefully when others see me, they will come to see Christ in me.

On this feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pray with me the Litany of the Sacred Heart for all of our Aspirant class, for all of the Deacons of our Diocese, for Father Christopher Manning, our newly- ordained priest, for all of our seminarians, priests, religious, and those who spend their lives in God's service.


  1. We are praying for you and Nicole during this very important time! Sometimes it helps to look back at what others have done in the past.

    The people of the Diocese of Knoxvile, after 25 years, are extremely proud of their very first class of deacons, who were ordained six years ago this Sunday, June 9, 2007!!!

    I don't remember there being any deacons in this diocese at all before that, except maybe Deacon Jim Lawson, who may have moved here from another diocese. There may have been others...

    Look at what a tremendous amount of good these men have done in only six years!!! Deacon David Lucheon is Chief Finance Officer for the Diocese, and he also teaches two heavily attended Adult Formation Classes in two separate parishes, each week! Also, he frequently delivers great homilies at Sunday Mass and does an occasional wedding!

    Deacon Tim Elliott, who, I believe, was ordained with that class, is now heading up the formation of the current class of aspirants, when the first class of deacons was actually headed up by one of the finest priests in our diocese, Father Charlie Burton. In addition to these duties, Deacon Tim is Director of Ministries at All Saints Church, where he often delivers deeply moving homilies!

    All across our diocese, men who were ordained only six years ago are making absolutely HUGE CONTRIBUTIONS to the good of the people of the Diocese of Knoxville!!! (I only speak of the deacons I know, obviously, and I cannot remember how many were ordained then, maybe around thirty.) Deacon Tim would remember the specifics.

    We need to congratulate these wonderful men and to give thanks to God for all of the good that they do! We thank God for the giftedness of each man, each one having gifts different from the others, specifically given by God for the service he is calling them to do!

    Our Lord knows what work he wants you to do and he, no doubt, will give you everything you need to be able to complete all the work he is calling you to do. Already, you are such a blessing to so many, through your great journalistic ability, as well as your gifts for inspirational writing, for which so many in this diocese are very grateful! God will provide for you, every step of the way.

    A photo of this group can be viewed at:

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  2. Your June 21 article on, "Leaving the Clergy To Do It" is very interesting. I listened to our beloved Bishop's comments. I read Ms. Teti's article, "Religious Liberty Ain't the Bishops' Job." Then I read her 14 suggestions for what Catholics should do during this time called Fortnight for Freedom. I read Pope Francis' beautiful words about how early Christians, armed only with their faith, went out to tell the world about the Lord, risking their very lives!

    All of this leaves me feeling very frustrated as to what actually can be done by people like myself! I have risked making an absolute fool of myself, time and time again, defending the faith, especially when it comes to the sanctity of life, but I cannot discern what folks like myself can do, at the present time!

    It seems to me that the greatest thing we can do is to VOTE the values of the Church, but since many Catholics totally failed to do that, in the past presidential election, I wonder what can be done now?

    The Bishops do have the most power, and I wonder what they would consider more important for them to be working on, at the present time, than on defending our religious freedoms, such as the ones which are currently being threatened. Do they need to know that we are standing behind them, as they "go to war" on these issues? Surely they know we stand behind them!

    I feel so powerless, facing all of this. Why cannot our leaders get together on this and get us organized and tell us what we need to do, other than cleaning up a park or watching a movie about freedom!

    I think IT IS the Bishops' job to head this effort up!

    I think Pope Francis is speaking to the Bishops, when he talks about going out, armed only with their faith, even risking their very lives, to defend the faith!!!

  3. I think that whether their people stand behind them sadly depend on the diocese and the bishop. I have no doubt at all that the people of the Diocese of Knoxville stand behind our own bishop, but there is also little doubt that many of the Catholics in the pew in our diocese are deeply faithful people who value their freedom and value the liberty of the Church, but I am not sure that this is a universal feeling found everywhere and in every diocese.

    If it were, I don't think the bishops would have to spend so much time raising awareness year after year, because more people would take the concern to heart. The pressure of the bishops is of little effect without the pressure of the laity, and it is the job of the ordinary people in the pew to apply that pressure.

    The article you saw, by the way, was actually on the diocesan blog Life At 25

  4. "The pressure of the bishops is of little effect without the pressure of the laity, and it is the job of the ordinary people in the pew to apply that pressure."

    Okay, Mr. Oatney, please realize that it is with much appreciation and deepest respect for you that I ask:

    Here we are on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, in East Tennessee, what can Catholics in the Diocese of Knoxville be doing about this issue today, next week? Are you suggesting that we need to write to our beloved Bishop Stika and let him know we are standing behind him? Doesn't he already know this? Besides prayer, what else can we do?

    Oops, sorry about my error in where I read this article. I follow you on three separate sites, and can get a little mixed up at times...

  5. First of all, I am quite humbled that you follow me on three different sites...there are some times when I can feel that the only people who care what I write are God, my wife, and some of my fellow Aspirants who are kind enough to read it, so I can't tell you how heartening that is.

    Secondly, I think that Bishop Stika knows that many people in the Diocese of Knoxville are behind him (they've shown it on more than one occasion), but I am not so sure that is true universally of bishops elsewhere. It has been my experience (which is admittedly more limited than others) that the courageous stands of some bishops don't get a lot of support out in their parishes like they should. Still others are afraid to stand up for fear of angering others, and I heard that one from a retired bishop (who didn't like it)! So if you are going to pray, pray that the Holy Spirit gives an even greater measure of courage to our bishops.

    But if you want to know how you can help, I think it is reasonable to say that many of us have consciences and know right from wrong. We should not have to wait on Bishop Stika or Cardinal Dolan to make some pronouncement about the need to defend religious liberty in order to know that we need to do that, and we ought to be able to act on it, vote in accordance with it, and speak to others about it...the bishop can't do that for us. Bishop Stika and the other bishops are doing little but talking to a proverbial brick wall if they are doing all the work applying civic pressure to the President, Congress, the Legislature et. al. while the rest of us let them do all the work. If you're concerned about what is happening, talk to your fellow parishioners about it and try to find ways to educate them about the threat to every American (not just Catholics) when religious liberty is threatened. Most importantly, if you are wondering what to do, pray about it and ask the Holy Spirit "what can I do."

    1. Okay, Mr. Oatney, I've gone the path which you suggested, and I can see how you are so very right about each of us needing to stand up for our religious liberty, in order to stand with our bishops in their defense of our religious liberty.

      As an answer to prayer, I just keep finding more and more ways to work into conversations with friends and coworkers, how blessed we are with these liberties, and how we need to defend them. People seem to just love hearing me tell them about this, Protestants and Catholics alike, to my great surprise!

      I hope to find more ways to express this, in my humble little life. I just wanted to let you know how very right you are about this.

      May God continue to bless you as you step up to candidacy for the deaconate this fall!

      Also, regarding your great success, all summer long, both on "Life at 25," as well as your profuse outpouring of writings about the Church, and about our Lord, on, I just keep thinking about how worried you were that you wouldn't be able to find anything to do this summer, as your summer God has truly blessed you with your great journalistic ability, as well as with opportunities to put that wonderful ability to use, writing to and about the Church, and about our Lord!!!

  6. The new look of is incredible! We're looking foward to following your posts there!