ALLOUEZ — Scott Valentyn, a seminarian for the Diocese of Green Bay, was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, on Oct. 1 at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. He was one of 39 men from the college ordained to the diaconate on the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Deacon Valentyn, whose home parish is St. John Nepomucene in Little Chute, is in his fourth year of studies at Pontifical North American College in Rome.
Following graduation from Little Chute High School, Deacon Valentyn attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for two years before entering the seminary. He transferred to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and was a seminarian at St. John Vianney College Seminary for three years prior to his studies in Rome.
One of Deacon Valentyn’s first thoughts as he was vested a deacon was “the church said ‘yes,’” he shared in an email with The Compass.
“By that I mean that when a man decides to enter seminary, it’s because he senses that he might be called to the priesthood,” he said. “The time in seminary, then, is an opportunity for both the man and the church to discern whether or not this is an authentic call. After six years of seminary in which I discerned that calling, I received a definitive answer from the church in ordination.”
In addition to Fr. Daniel Schuster, vocation director for the diocese, family and friends attended the ordination Mass. Among those making the trip were Deacon Valentyn’s parents, Dan and Deb Valentyn; his twin brother, Robb; his godparents, Tom and Cathy Valentyn; and Taylor DeBruin, a friend since childhood, and his mother and stepfather.
The family of Greg Parent, another seminarian from the Diocese of Green Bay who attended Pontifical North American College, also attended. Mark Mleziva, a diocesan seminarian who is also studying in Rome, served as an acolyte at the Mass.
“The ordination rite itself is a very powerful experience, but, as we processed in and I passed different friends and family members, I couldn’t help but feel an intense gratitude for all their support,” said Deacon Valentyn. “The deacon is ordained to serve the people of God, so the presence of the people of God adds so much significance to the ceremony.”
Deacon Valentyn will continue in preparation for the priesthood as a transitional deacon. He and Deacon Michael Thiel, who was ordained on June 6, are scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay in June of 2016. The opportunities to serve as a deacon in Rome are different than for transitional deacons at seminaries in the U.S. Deacon Valentyn will not serve at a parish on weekends, but, instead, will do apostolate work at an after school program at a parish.
“I have the opportunity to serve as a deacon with a large group of middle schoolers,” he explained. “I look forward to being able to lead these kids in prayer in a new way. I’ve known many of them since before I was ordained and it will be great to have the opportunity to work with them in this new capacity.”
Deacon Valentyn served at St. Nicholas Parish in Freedom and St. Edward Parish in Mackville this past summer. He said that being away from home and outside the parish setting while in seminary is challenging, so the summer experience is deeply appreciated.
“I felt so welcomed by both parishes,” he said. “I served as an acolyte at many of the Masses in the two parishes and even had the opportunity to offer a reflection at a holy hour put on by the parish. Much of the time in the parish is spent sort of shadowing the pastor in order to get a better understanding of life as a parish priest.
“Being in the parish is kind of like a spiritual recharge in that you are reminded of why you entered seminary in the first place,” he added.
Deacon Valentyn will return to the diocese over Christmas break for the first time in the last four years. He hopes to serve as a deacon for at least one Christmas Mass. Serving as a deacon provides the “privilege of proclaiming the Gospel and preaching,” he said. “This privilege of the diaconate reminds me of the responsibility to pour myself out more fully for the people of God.”
Deacon Valentyn added that his journey to the diaconate has not only enhanced his prayer life, but has transformed it.
“To be a deacon is to serve,” he said. “In promising to maintain that particular spirit of prayer, I have been trying to cultivate more of a servant’s heart in my approach to prayer. Plus, I really like that I am given the privilege and opportunity to give blessings. It’s incredible to be able to bless others in the name of the church.”