ALLOUEZ — Being ordained a deacon brings a permanent feeling of commitment, but also a sense of freedom, said newly ordained Deacon Jon Thorsen, who is currently studying at Mundelein Seminary just north of Chicago.
“I imagine, upon making this commitment and receiving the sacrament, I will experience a certain peace and joy, which the promises of this vocation give,” said Deacon Thorsen, who was born in Milwaukee and moved at age 8 with his family to Silver Cliff in the north woods of the Green Bay Diocese.
“It means that I have limited my options in how to live my life to this one way. It is a freedom not as the world sees it,” he said. “The freedom in vocation will give me more clarity in how to live according to God’s will. Our culture idolizes unbridled autonomy and limitless options. But this ‘freedom’ generally bears the fruit of anxiety and misery in our own hearts, because God made us for love and love entails sacrifice and commitment. A life spent in loving bears the fruit of peace and joy in the heart.”
Deacon Thorsen’s ministry experience started before entering seminary. He served as a volunteer for Catholic Youth Expeditions for two summers and was a missionary intern for one school year.
While in seminary, Deacon Thorsen received ministry assignments each year.
“My first year, I helped with youth ministry in a parish in Missouri,” he said. “The next year, I visited patients in a hospital. I then taught catechesis to fifth and sixth graders.”
During his second year of theology, Thorsen served in the diocese for 10 weeks as a pastoral intern at Holy Cross Parish in Kaukauna.
“During that time, I was involved in all facets of parish ministry: funerals, preaching reflections, youth ministry, education, liturgy,” he said.
Last summer, Deacon Thorsen completed an internship in hospital chaplaincy in Ann Arbor, Mich., and, during the 2015 fall semester, he assisted at Our Lady of the Angels Mission in Chicago. He worked with the Franciscans to serve the poor.
Performing baptisms and visiting the sick and homebound are among the ministry opportunities that Deacon Thorsen welcomes as a deacon. He will serve the Antigo parishes this summer — St. John and SS. Mary and Hyacinth — where he looks forward to working with Fr. Dave Schmidt, pastor, and Ministry of Faith Fr. Judah Pigon, parochial vicar.
Deacon Thorsen’s path to the diaconate featured some curves. Post-high school education began at Magdalen College in Warner, N.H.
“This was a classical, great books school where everyone studies the liberal arts,” he explained. “The college no longer exists as an institution. Northeast Catholic College now inhabits the campus.”
Deacon Thorsen transferred after two years. He then “jumped around a lot, switching majors and schools” before graduating with a degree in criminal justice from UW-Oshkosh. He studied at Conception Seminary College in Missouri prior to Mundelein.
Deacon Thorsen’s home parish during his youth was St. Augustine in Wausaukee. When his family moved out of the area, he became a member of SS. Peter and Paul in Green Bay. His first Masses as a deacon are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on May 29 at SS. Peter and Paul Church. Teaching is included in preaching, but is not simply another word for teaching, said Deacon Thorsen.
“After laying hands on the candidate, the bishop presents the Book of the Gospels to the new deacon, saying ‘Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.’ Those three actions — believe, teach, practice — encompass preaching,” he said.
Deacon Thorsen is the second oldest of four children of Terry and Margo Thorsen. His family was among those to provide support on ordination day. Older brother, Dane, and his wife, Teresa, have three children. He also has two sisters: Melissa, who is married to Matt, and Angela.
Fr. Quinn Mann vested Deacon Thorsen at the ordination Mass.
“From my senior year in college at UW-Oshkosh and all through my involvement with Catholic Youth Expeditions, he has helped me to become a better disciple of Jesus,” he said. “Experiencing his priesthood was inspirational in my discernment to enter seminary.”
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