Joining Knights was a ‘kick starter’ to Jaeckels’ faith

NEW HOLSTEIN — Five years ago, when Randy Jaeckels began formation for the diaconate, he answered a call that he had heard several times earlier in his life.

The New Holstein resident will be ordained a deacon by Bishop David Ricken on May 12 at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay. He will serve Holy Rosary Parish, New Holstein; SS. Peter and Paul, Kiel; and St. Ann Parish, Saint Anna.

Randy Jaeckels

Jaeckels is a native of Chilton, where he attended the then St. Mary Catholic School through sixth grade and graduated from Chilton High School in 1979. Jaeckels and his wife, Patty, were married in 1984. They have three adult children — Kimberly, Alyssa and Nathan — and four grandchildren. His mother, Diane, lives in Chilton. His brother, Rick, was recently reelected as the mayor of Chilton. Jaeckels’ sister, Sherri, lives in Appleton.

Jaeckels’ family was active in the church during his youth. His family attended 7 a.m. Sunday Mass where his late father, Thomas, was often an usher. Jaeckels was an altar server at St. Mary.

During his high school years, Jaeckels considered the priesthood, but eventually decided that “the calling point was not strong enough.” He enrolled at UW-Whitewater, graduating in 1983 with a major in business management.

In February of 1984, Jaeckels began a 34-year career in the public utility industry. He started with the former Wisconsin Power and Light Co. in western Wisconsin and was based in Iowa for one year with the company for which he worked until 1998.

Joining the Knights of Columbus Council at Tomah in 1989 was “a kick starter” that “helped to grow my faith to a higher degree,” said Jaeckels. Three of Patty’s aunts were religious sisters. Jaeckels credits the two he knew for being “very important to my faith formation.”

In 1999, Jaeckels began to work for the WPPI Energy, which is a consortium of 51 local electrical power utilities. He was stationed in Two Rivers and New Holstein was in the territory he served.

That led to a career move as Jaeckels became the general manager of the New Holstein utility in November of 2006. Of all his steps toward the diaconate, he describes “the physical move to New Holstein (2009), the biggest one.”

What Jaeckels found was “a very welcoming” Holy Rosary Parish. He quickly began to serve as an usher, lector/proclaimer, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, homebound minister, and member of the prayer and worship committee. He also joined the local Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul.

In the spring of 2012, Deacon Bernard “Pat” Knier asked Jaeckels if he’d consider becoming a deacon. Even before that inquiry, Jaeckels acknowledges that he “felt a call” because of how often he was asked to lead a prayer at family and community events. Some people also discussed “their own struggles with faith” with him.

With assurances from Deacon Knier that other people had also suggested that he would be a good candidate for the diaconate, Jaeckels undertook a one-year discernment process before he became an applicant in the spring of 2013. Discernment involved special prayers and projects along with talking to area priests, pastoral leader Joe Zenk, and other people.

In the fall of 2013, he and Patty attended the diocesan lay ministry class, which led to additional ministries as a pastoral volunteer at the Ascension Calumet Medical Center in Chilton and the St. John Homeless Shelter in Green Bay. They also made a Cursillo in March of 2014.

Following his discernment and aspirant year, Jaeckels attended classes at the diocesan campus. The instructors from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc were all “excellent and outstanding,” he said.

On the Sunday morning following his ordination, Jaeckels will serve as deacon at the 8 a.m. Mass in Saint Anna and at the 10 a.m. Mass in New Holstein. That afternoon, he will baptize a granddaughter who lives in Virginia.

In addition to baptisms, the new deacon can preside at weddings and funerals which are not accompanied by a Mass and at prayer services. Jaeckels will continue his pastoral ministries at the Chilton hospital and to the homebound and sick.

Liturgical involvement will include reading the Gospel and serving as a homilist at Mass. Jaeckels expects other assignments from Zenk, such as assisting with faith formation. He is considering pursuing a degree in theology to further his education.

His commitment to the faith will be the priority. Jaeckels promises there will be no change about being “service oriented to the church and community.”

Other deacon candidates include: