Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Corinne says: I was stunned when my husband, Donald, mentioned he was considering becoming a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.

This really took me by surprise. Donald was raised in the South as a Baptist! He is now a convert to Catholicism. Donald has always been a considerate, loving husband and an excellent father of our four children, but I am a bit skeptical that Donald has the Catholic background to become ordained as a deacon. In addition, I am wondering, what would be required of me and our teenage children in this whole process?

We do not have any deacons in our parish, so I really do not know much about the diaconate or the consequences for the family. I want to support Donald with “his calling” (as he refers to it), but I am afraid to support something I fear may be out of his reach. Our children (two girls, ages 13 and 18 and twin sons, age 15) do not seem to have an opinion one way or another. They seem supportive, but will they resent time being taken away from their sports activities which include their father?

I am very independent and do not lean on Donald, but I also do not know what would be involved with me. Certainly, at the very least, I believe our family would probably come under the microscope in our church community … and what else awaits us?

He Says:

Donald says:  I was brought up in a strict, Bible-centered, Baptist faith. My parents were good Christians. We went to church as a family, and I continued that practice with Corinne and our sons and daughters. When our children were preparing for the reception of sacraments, I learned about the Eucharist and Catholic belief that Jesus died, leaving us the gift of himself in the Eucharist. I became interested in converting, went through the RCIA program, and was brought into the Catholic Church six years ago at the Easter Vigil.


I heard about the diaconate from a brochure I saw in church, and then via a co-worker who is going through the diaconate formation at this time. I know a little bit about what it involves through speaking with him.

Corinne seemed upset when I shared with her that I was thinking of finding out more about the particulars of becoming a deacon. I really believe that I am called to discern this vocation, but I certainly do not want this to have a negative impact on our marriage and family.

What do they do?

First and foremost Corinne and Donald need to pray together seriously about this “calling.” They should ask the Holy Spirit to help them be open and honest with each other in their discussions about this important step.

Donald, ask Corinne what qualities she sees in you that she believes would help you in ministry as a deacon. Ask your children the same questions.

Are you presently active in your parish? Donald, you certainly need to have a discussion with your pastor. What qualities does the pastor see in you that he believes may be diaconal?

Talk to your friend currently going through formation. Ask him about his likes and dislikes and how they affect his family.

Ask, listen, discern and pray and then pray again! If you are truly being called by God to be a deacon, his plan for you and your family will become clear. “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).

Corinne and Donald, be aware that if admitted to diaconate formation and eventually ordained as a deacon, you and your family, through the grace of God, will most assuredly be changed. You will find yourself changing schedules and changing your life. You will encounter and touch other people’s lives, and you will be drawn closer to God, and you will love it!

“This I know: God is on my side. God, I praise your promise; in you I trust, I do not fear” (Psalms 56:10-11).


The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is presenting a Permanent Diaconate Information Night on Thursday, April 16 at 7 p.m. at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary’s Vianney Auditorium. Read more information here or contact Deacon Michael Pascarella at 215-587-4532.