For most of my life I have been involved in service, to my country and to my community. The idea of becoming a permanent deacon had come to me from time to time after my retirement. I was then very involved in parish ministry, as a reader, serving at mass when necessary, as a communion minister, presiding at lay services, prayer vigils and involved in general parish administration.
I had read about other dioceses in Canada and the U.S. that had started diaconate programs and had active permanent deacons serving in some dioceses, but our diocese had no such program. At that time, both my wife and I were attracted to the idea but we thought we might be too old to be accepted. However, my wife’s terminal illness then became my priority and I did my best to care for her until her death in 2012. We had been married 55 years.
The idea of being a deacon remained strong and when our diocese announced such a program I continued to feel a call to be part of it, yet hesitated because I felt my age would now be a definite barrier. In discussions with my pastor, I was encouraged to write to the bishop and ask for special consideration. Still I was hesitant, but the strong urge to serve would not leave me alone. At the very last moment before the start of the program I applied and Bishop Albert Thévenot accepted me in the discernment phase of the program. From then on I no longer hesitated and felt sure God was giving me the time to serve him and the church.
I am very happy to have been ordained and be able to serve in the diaconal ministries of Word, sacrament and charity for as long as God gives me.
Bellavance is a deacon in the Diocese of Prince Albert.