Pearce describes journey to diaconate as gradual process

APPLETON — For some men, deciding to pursue the call to the diaconate comes after an “aha” moment. For Scott Pearce, a member of St. Bernadette Parish in Appleton, it’s been a gradual process.

“For me personally and for our society, we forget how much God loves us,” he said. “It’s in those moments that our lives are diminished and we might sin. My call seems to be rooted in trying to live in a way that reminds others about how much God loves us. I feel, through this vocation, I will be able to live out this Holy Spirit-guided life.” 

A native of Green Bay, Pearce, 46, attended St. Philip the Apostle School, Notre Dame Academy and earned his undergraduate degree at St. Norbert College in De Pere. He is currently in their MTS (Master of Theological Studies) program. “I’m done with my coursework. I need to finish my thesis for graduation with my master’s in theological studies,” he said.

The diaconate formation involves faith and academic formation, noted Pearce. “The diocese allowed me the privilege to study for my master’s at St. Norbert College as a part of my academic formation and it was life-changing,” he said.

Between his studies, the work involved to become a deacon and his full-time career as an IT specialist, Pearce has had his hands full for the last five or so years. His wife, Tara, who is vice president of admissions for St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System, and his daughters, Emma, a sophomore, and Maggie, an eighth-grader, both in the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System, have been a tremendous support.

Recently, Pearce was given the good news that he will be serving St. Bernadette Parish as deacon. “There’s something special going on here at St. Bernadette,” he said. “The parishioners’ level of welcoming is unmatched, even during the pandemic. They are living as missionary disciples. They put their faith into action.”

He’s grateful to be working with St. Bernadette’s pastor, Fr. Joe Dorner. “The Holy Spirit is guiding this community, first and foremost, but Fr. Joe’s direction here is unmatched,” he said. “He is authentic in his faith and he cares deeply about the people here and our faith journeys.” 

Through the years, Pearce has been involved in parish life in various ways, including volunteering as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion at an area hospital and nursing home facilities. “When I’m ordained, I will do whatever is asked of me, but I’d love to be able to teach, whatever that means, whether it’s Bible study or RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults),” he said.

Pearce credits his parents, David and Barb Pearce, for the sacrifices they made to send him and his two sisters to Catholic schools. 

“My Catholic education, and every teacher along the way, was the reason I was able to respond to this call,” he said. “I have a special closeness to the Norbertines — my spiritual director is Norbertine Fr. Brad Vanden Branden. I love St. Norbert College. Dr. Howard Ebert is the department head. He and the entire faculty of the theology department are unbelievably faithful and knowledgeable. They challenged my faith in the best way possible. I didn’t really appreciate it as much as a 19-year-old, when I was there the first time. The chance to go back as a dad and husband and a full-time employee, you’d think would be a lot harder, but it was a joy.” 

Two other people have been instrumental in Pearce’s journey to the diaconate. “Deacon Tony Abts of St. Therese Parish in Appleton has been a mentor since day one. He’s great. Deacon Gib Schmidt, serving Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and St. Bernadette Parish, is my diaconate mentor. He’s the best man, just a wonderful holy man,” he said.

Once he’s ordained, Pearce is looking forward to working with the parishioners at St. Bernadette. “They set the bar high,” he said. “I need to follow their example of missionary discipleship — get to know them and understand what’s working for them and emulate them.”

That being said, ordination isn’t an ending for Pearce, it’s a beginning. “I’m excited to continue to answer God’s call every day,” he said.