For the past two years, my wife, Marie, and I have been going through the archdiocese formation
process to help prepare me to serve the Church and our parish as a deacon. The formation and
training process is a four-year program that involves the study of a great many subjects and
includes more exams, papers and projects than I ever imagined. The program is not just
academics, it is also about preparing us spiritually. Spiritual development takes real effort. It
requires greater interiority, a focusing on one’s relationship with God, and a strengthening of
one’s prayer life. But it is also the path to holiness.
My understanding of the importance of prayer has developed over the course of my life.
When I was younger, I generally prayed just when I needed God’s help the most, like to help me
get a school project completed on time when I had been a procrastinating. As a parent, I prayed
mostly for the benefit of my wife, our kids, and our extended families. My problem was that
when there was no particular thing that we really needed at the moment, I prayed less often.
Participating in the deacon formation program has helped me realize the importance of
making time for God and prayer every day. For many, including myself, forming the habit of
daily prayer requires real effort and self-discipline. As deacons in formation, we are asked to
pray the morning and evening prayer of the liturgy of hours each day. At first, this seemed like
just an added task to perform. But over time, I’ve grown to appreciate more frequent and varied
prayer in my life. While you don’t always hear God answer back, that may be because we don’t
allow for enough quiet time with God to listen for a response. I’ve learned that God doesn’t
speak to us in loud or showy displays, but rather in quiet and subtle ways. Occasionally, I feel a
sort of grace, the soft silent whisper of God, that has given me deeper insight in a scripture
passage and a feeling of inner calm that I would not have found on my own. These experiences
help confirm for me that I am traveling the right path. Forming the habit of daily prayer is
important for all of us because all are called to holiness.
Tom Dombai is an attorney for the City of Chicago, father of six children, a lifelong
parishioner of St. Juliana (58 years), and is in the process of becoming a permanent deacon
for the Archdiocese of Chicago.