Andy Summers, an electrical lecturer/assessor at our Birchwood, Warrington site, has very kindly agreed to tell us his story of how his faith lead him to train as a deacon.
On the 1st July 2017 Bishop Mark Davies ordained Andy a new deacon for the Diocese of Shrewsbury during a Mass in Shrewsbury Cathedral. We are all very proud of Andy’s achievement and dedication to his faith and hope that you enjoy reading his story.
My story: The Reverend Andy Summers, Deacon.
In which parish are you involved?
St John Vianney in Northwich, Cheshire
What is your role?
My main role is to assist my parish priest Fr. Paul Standish during Mass where I can read the Gospel and give homilies (sermons) and distribute holy communion. My role also allows me to conduct baptisms, weddings and funerals and in fact only last Sunday I baptised two babies and am looking forward to conducting my first wedding service in September.
Why did you choose to be ordained?
I felt I could be of more service to the people of the parish as an ordained minister and take a more active role, for example, only a priest or deacon can read and then teach on the Gospel readings each week and this was an area where I felt I could contribute.
How and when did you know you were called to ministry?
I had become a member of the Catholic Church in 1985 after receiving my faith and spent several years travelling throughout Britain and Europe sharing my faith in schools and parishes using music and drama to bring the message of the Gospel in a way which was relevant to young people. I’d been a professional musician, I’m a drummer, and toured at home and abroad and was able to use that gift as a means of service for the Church. After meeting my wife Helen, I settled down and have spent the last few years bringing up a family, re-training as an electrician and then as a teacher and it was only when my daughter Elizabeth had become a teenager that I felt the call to train to become a deacon.
How would you describe your experience of being ordained?
Very humbling! The word deacon comes from the Greek word ‘Diakonia’ which means ‘to serve’. So I’m very aware of the responsibility that I now carry to be of service to everyone. The ordination ceremony was very special, a lot of my work colleagues were there to support me as well as family and friends.
What's the best thing about your entering the ministry?
The best thing about entering the ministry is to be of service to people, to proclaim and teach the Gospel and to be able to live out my faith in a way that benefits others.
What's the most challenging aspect of your role?
Making sure I get it right! There’s a lot of organisation involved in baptisms and weddings and I feel a little like a learner driver at the moment. I’m sure it’ll be alright. I would like people to feel that they could approach me. A deacon is usually a married man, so maybe people would feel they could talk to a deacon rather than to a priest in certain matters; that could be pretty challenging!
What has been the reaction of your family and work colleagues?
My daughter was horrified at the thought of me becoming a deacon five years ago, but now thinks it’s quite cool! My wife has been very supportive and so have my work colleagues both past and present, many were at the ordination along with my line manager Mike and his family. I’ve received a lot of good wishes from everyone at TS4U, my colleagues affectionally referring to me now as ‘The Rev!’.
What would your advice be for someone wanting to become a minister?
That’s a difficult one but I believe it is a call so it’s about being open and honest in your life to know where God is calling you personally. I received my faith over thirty years ago but it’s only been in the last five years that I’ve felt called to become a minister. You’ve just got to be open and follow your heart.
What is your current job role and how does this fit in with being a deacon?
I’m a lecturer/assessor at TS4U in Birchwood, Warrington. deacons unlike priests, don’t get paid so it’s a labour of love, so I’ll be fitting the duties around my job which means evenings and weekends will be the times I’ll be able to fully exercise the ministry.
We wish Andy (The Rev) the very best of luck in his new role and look forward to hearing how he gets on conducting his first wedding service in September.
A funny quote I found by Cardinal Richard Cushing was: The bishops will govern the Church, the priests will do all the work and the deacons will have all the fun.