Parish: St. Paul, Flowood
Spouse: Karen Schmidt
Hometown: Gluckstadt and have lived in Brandon for the last 30 years.
Favorite Scripture passage: Romans 14:7-9 – I’m fond of this passage because it’s a reminder of our true purpose in life which is to be responsible to the Lord.
Favorite saint: St. Matthias – Matthias was chosen to replace Judas and his selection process was accomplished by casting lots after the Apostles prayed. The concepts associated with Matthias that make him so fond is that it is written that he was chosen not because he was worthy, but because he would become worthy. We should all work tirelessly to become more worthy of God’s love for each one of our souls.
Secondly, Matthias was my paternal grandfather’s name. I owe my Catholic origins to him and my paternal grandmother. They were one of the five founding families of Gluckstadt and have a wonderful history with the Diocese of Jackson. I am proud to continue the Catholic faith in my life and life as a deacon.
Favorite religious image or devotion: I’ve always been intrigued by the story of the return of the prodigal son. Rembrandt’s painting, “Prodigal Son,” has multiple interesting aspects within the painted image to inspire repentance and forgiveness. At some point in our lives, we will have played all the characters in the story.
Favorite liturgy: Holy Thursday is my favorite liturgy. Obviously, Jesus serves as the one to emulate in all aspects of our lives, but Holy Thursday holds significance. As a deacon, I am here to serve and not be served and what more humbling example to attempt to emulate than that of Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles.
Did you come across something you learned in your formation that you did not expect?
The formation process and the length of time to complete it are lengthy for a multitude of reasons; however, I entered formation wanting to be taught what it was that I needed to know as a deacon. I really wanted the formation process to be catechetical; however, for the formation process to form a deacon fully and properly, it requires one to absorb the academic knowledge and, most importantly, allow that information to transform oneself in the four main areas of formation — spiritual, human, pastoral and academic. Being in a personal and authentic relationship with others is how I can best let the face of God shine. The diaconate is less about me and more about me not getting in the way of God as he uses me to continue to build this church.
Vocation story: As an adult, I have been active in my parish in various areas. Service to others is a natural part of my being and has served me well as a registered nurse. When I reached my late 40’s, I began to plan for retirement and, oddly, the issue of finances was not my main area of concern. I was really struggling to formulate how my life was going to be spent once I was no longer on the 9 to 5 work routine.
My pastor, Father Gerry Hurley, called me one day and asked if I would consider the diaconate. My wife and I discussed and prayed about it and felt that it was an idea worth exploring. I can honestly say that pursuing the diaconate was a decision that received the most discernment out of all the decisions in my lifetime. I am ever confident that the diaconate is where God wants me. There have been plenty of struggles, doubts and fears along the formation journey leading up to ordination. However, ordination is not the supreme goal of the formation journey. Frankly, the journey is only beginning as I and my brother deacons, go into the world to serve.
What are you most looking forward to doing?
I am looking forward to transitioning into parish life and what other duties the Bishop assigns. I like knowing the people in my parish and hope that I will be able to know a larger segment of the parish via participation within the ministries of the parish. I also look forward to visiting with the sick. Hospice care holds a special place in my heart and I hope to be able to assist in the spiritual and pastoral care of the dying and their families.
Children: Houston Schmidt, 26; Parker Schmidt, 24; and three four-legged Jack Russell Terrier daughters – Butterbean, 16; Stella, 6; and Izzy, 5.
Deacon’s wives questions:
Name: Karen Schmidt
What did you think when your husband first began to consider ordination?
I was supportive of Tony but had many questions. He tends to analyze situations, consider multiple angles and is a loving and compassionate soul. I was confident that if he made the decision to pursue the diaconate, it was what God wanted him to do.
How has the preparation deepened your spirituality?
The random discussions that occur in our time together pertaining to current events, the plot of a movie or the dynamics within a family tend to be on a deeper level. I can voice my emotions pertaining to the stressors of human life but can better contemplate what needs to happen so that I can remain true to my faith. Perhaps, we are not all called to be as influential as Mother Theresa, but we are ALL called to love one another.
How has the preparation impacted your relationship as a couple and as a family?
As a married couple with two adult children, we have all learned to be flexible with our schedules. Tony and I both work full time and attempting to balance work life, formation, family commitments can be quite challenging. I think we both appreciate quality over quantity of time.
Favorite Scripture: Philippians 4:13. Internal peace and comfort comes from knowing that all we are and all that we have is because of God.
Favorite saint: I am particularly fond of St. Francis of Assisi. The initial draw was the fondness for nature and animals associated the St. Francis. I also admire Francis’ conversion story and embracing of poverty as it echoes that all we are and have is a gift from God.
Favorite liturgy: Good Friday is such a solemn occasion but is one that I look forward to all year. The remembrance of Jesus’ crucifixion and death is a stark reminder of the love God has for his people and the obedience of Jesus to do the will of his Father to pay a debt that I could never pay is overwhelming.