We are at the Bishop Defalco Retreat Center in Amarillo. Teague and I have spent one weekend a month here since August 2012 attending Deacon Formation classes. We joke that it is our “home away from home”. Yesterday evening we arrived and had a meal with the other guys and their wives, and then we had a class on Cultural Sensitivity, Understanding, and Formation. We will have classes all day today on the Torah, Systematic Theology, Social Justice, and the Sacraments. Tomorrow we will have classes on Spirituality and Scriptures. We will pray morning and evening prayer each day, and tomorrow we will celebrate mass.
The formation is scheduled to last four and one half years. We are also required to do work in our parishes and in areas of social justice, such as helping the poor, visiting the prison, and helping the sick.
As I was reading about the Israelites wandering in the desert for forty years and all the hardships they faced, it occurred to me that deacon formation was similar in a small way. At times, I do feel like I am in the wilderness, and the only way I can carry on is with the help of God.
But the Lord has provided companions for the journey, and they are mighty men and women of God. As I come to know them on a personal level, my faith is only strengthened. They encourage me greatly, but most of all…they pray, and they pray for me.