Deacon’s office serves as safe place for colleagues

By Jean Peerenboom | For The Compass | March 11, 2016

Compass honors 2016 Faith That Works recipients

MENASHA — Deacon Jeff Prickette serves at weekend Masses in Combined Locks and as a strategic risk advisor at the McClone Agency in Menasha during the week, but his ministry to people is 24/7.

Four years ago, he was ordained a deacon for St. Mary Parish, Appleton, where the Prickette family were members. About seven months ago, he began his assignment at St. Paul Church in Combined Locks.

“Ordination, to me, means even though I have a full-time job outside the church, ministry is 24/7,” he said. “I live my faith here (at work). The McClone family has been as supportive as my own family has been. I am able to make hospital or home visits during the day if I need to. It’s wonderful to be here, to live my faith and not worry about if I’ll be reprimanded or not for it.”

Deacon Jeff Prickette, who serves at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, has worked for the McClone Agency of Menasha for the past eight years. He is honored that co-workers stop by his office to discuss private concerns and for prayer. (Scott Eastman | The Compass)
Deacon Jeff Prickette, who serves at St. Paul Parish, Combined Locks, has worked for the McClone Agency of Menasha for the past eight years. He is honored that co-workers stop by his office to discuss private concerns and for prayer. (Scott Eastman | The Compass)

He joined the McClone Agency, headquartered in downtown Menasha, eight years ago. His position is in employee benefits, helping group health insurers as they design and administer health plans. He also serves as a mentor to new risk advisers.

“When I was hired here, I was going through the diaconate formation,” he said. “The company’s response was ‘this is wonderful.’ It was good to be reassured by them.” He is continuing his education as he finishes up a master’s degree in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere.

His colleagues say he has an informal role of spiritual guide, enjoying frequent drop-ins of other employees looking for a voice of reason. His office is considered a safe place, according to his nominator, Mike McClone, company president.

“I’m glad I’m here,” said Deacon Prickette. “And, I have no doubt God placed me here into ministry to serve God and his people. It’s no coincidence, only God’s providence.”

He said the insurance industry can be difficult. “In some ways it can be highly unethical. To be ethical every day even around people I run into who are unethical makes things sometimes frustrating, sometimes sad. It’s an opportunity God presents me to live by his word here.

“I have a lot of people in my office ask for prayers or wanting to talk over a personal situation, so I have a chance to do my ministry here,” he added. “I’m honored they respect me enough to come to me with private concerns and ask me to pray for them.”

Deacon Prickette is a native of Shawano. He and his wife, Mary, will celebrate 30 years of marriage in August. They have two sons, Ryan and Tyler, and a baby in heaven. Ryan, a mechanical engineer, was married last year and is expecting the first Prickette grandchild in fall. Tyler is in pharmacy school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Both of his sons were outstanding golfers at Appleton Xavier High School, helping the school win the 2008 WIAA Division 2 state boys golf championship.

In addition to his parish duties as deacon, Prickette also teaches religious education and shares in coordinating the parish efforts for helping with meals at Homeless Connections, the emergency homeless shelter in Appleton.

He conducts prayer services for the elderly at Bridges Nursing Home in Appleton, “and I love every second of that,” he said. Though that wasn’t always the case. “At first, I was nervous to be around people in the nursing home. But that changed once I began the ministry. Now, I can’t wait to see them.”

He also conducts prayer services at the prison in Oshkosh and finds that rewarding. “I love those guys,” he said.

Deacon Prickette serves on the board of the Widows of Prayer, a group of women who feel called to pray daily for vocations. “Their faith is amazing. I get inspired by them.”

His nominator cites Deacon Prickette’s willingness to do the right thing even when it is unpopular, his leadership ability and his generosity. He “is a great listener and provides valuable insight when asked. He is personally accountable for himself and shows others how to be responsible for themselves and their behaviors. His authenticity and transparency are refreshing.

“He is interested in ministering to others without allowing others to play the victim, but rather rely on God for everything. He is clear when telling others where they may have strayed off the path by following their ego’s appetite of always wanting more. This can be difficult to do in a corporate environment, but he believes and models this behavior. Jeff’s office is filled with statues, quotes, pictures, etc., all pointing to a man who fully understands his experience here is a spiritual one.”

Deacon Prickette said that being recognized with the Faith That Works award is humbling. He looks at it as “an opportunity for me to thank my company and my co-workers. They reaffirm that faith and work can be co-existent. I thank God every day, every second. Having God in my life makes the difficult times much, much easier.”

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