Hello from Deacon Tom Dombai and Marie Dombai
We are both overjoyed and I am deeply humbled to inform you that on Saturday, October 26th, I was ordained a deacon of the Catholic Church! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a life-long parishioner of St. Juliana (and a SJ alum) married for 35 years to my wife, Marie, (also an SJ alum). We are the parents of six children ranging in ages from 22 to 32 (all of whom are SJ alums). We are also the doting grandparents of two very active little ones.
My path of discernment leading to my vocation to serve as a deacon has spanned the course of decades. I had the first glimmer of a notion that the Lord might be calling me to be a deacon well over 25 years ago. But at that time, I was the father of several young children, I worked a full-time job and was involved in several parish groups and ministries, and I felt I just could not embark on an intensive and time-consuming commitment then without short-changing my family in the process. As soon as our youngest finished high school, and after talking things through with Marie, we decided it was the right time for me to apply for admission to the deacon formation program of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
My discernment of my vocation was aided in large part by the example of the faith-filled lives of my mother and father. It was also fostered by other important people in my life, most of whom are also from St. Juliana. I was greatly influenced by Deacon Vince Zegers, who was the very first permanent deacon to serve at our parish, a man who tirelessly gave of his time and talents as the longtime leader of our parish sponsored Boy Scout Troop, and a true and faithful servant of the people of God. Over the years I have also been influenced and helped along the discernment path by the gentle nudge and encouragement of several of our parish priests, by the example of Deacon Bob Ryan and Deacon Ed Dolan, and by the prayers and good wishes of so many of you.
The deacon formation program is an ambitious and demanding program involving many academic courses held on week nights and Saturdays, several intensive internships and service projects, monthly theological reflection groups and time in spiritual direction, a great deal of studying, exam taking and paper writing, and a whole lot of prayer! The purpose of the program is not merely to teach candidates for the diaconate how to perform the duties and roles of a deacon. More fundamentally, the formation program is designed to help candidates discern whether the Lord is really calling us to diaconate ministry, to prayerfully decide how we will respond to that call, and to strive to conform our lives to the model of Christ the Servant, in the service of the people of God and the Church.
Marie also fully participated in the formation program by taking nearly all of the classes offered to the deacon candidates. She passionately advocated that the wives should also receive training in preparing and delivering reflections on scripture similar to the men’s training in homiletics. The class was so well received that the leaders of the formation program are now planning on making this course a permanent class offering to the wives of deacon candidates.
Deacons serve in an integrated three-fold ministry by proclaiming the Word of God, assisting in the liturgy, and performing works of charitable service both at the parish level and, more broadly, to the poor and the marginalized in society. I look forward to performing this ministry in the service of the people of St. Juliana and the people of our Archdiocese for many years to come. Marie intends to share and assist in this ministry to serve the people of St. Juliana by using her own gifts and talents to spread God’s love in the service of others as a lay minister.
We thank you all for your kind encouragement and prayers over the past four years of formation and request that we might remain in your prayers in the future. You have our assurance that the wonderful people of St. Juliana will always be in ours!