In the Catholic Church, there are priests and deacons, as well as Bishops, Cardinals, etc. For this edition, I am interviewing Deacon William Necessary, who lives in Tyler, Texas. (note: Deacon Necessary sent me his answers as an audio file, so they are summarized from that.)
1.What was your childhood like? I was born in 1963 in Jacksonville, FL, and moved to Texas 4 years later. I grew up in Tyler, 90 miles west of Dallas. I was an only child. My dad worked for the Maytag Co. and we were transferred there. My family was not church-going people, nor were they even Catholic. My father was baptized in the Appalachian mountains, but my mother was not baptized until I was ordained and then I did it, shortly before she passed away. I grew up in East Texas in the 70’s and 80’s, starting public school in 1976. My parents were displeased with Tyler’s public schools, and I was sent to Catholic school instead, having heard of their reputation for better education. This made me fall in love with the Church, and I graduated in 1982, when I was baptized and made my first communion. So I was a convert from basically nothing.
2. Why did you pursue the deaconate? Ever since I was in high school, I have always been prone to do service and things for other people. When I became Catholic and went to college and became involved in Campus ministry, I had a desire to serve the church. All through college I was involved in extraordinary ministry and was an altar server, as well as lector and usher. When I was about to graduate from college, that small campus group was holding a rosary on the First Tuesday of every month. At that time, the diocese of Tyler had just been created, and the local news had sent out a reporter, who became my wife in 1990. In 1996, I became a permanent deaconate. I was ordained on Fatima Day in 2001.
3. What is your favorite biblical passage and why? My favorite biblical passage is Mark 5:36–don’t be afraid, just believe. One of the hardest biblical passages. It basically says “just believe”, but yet human fear, doubt gets in the way. But if you allow yourself to just believe and allow Christ to guide you, the sky’s the limit. It’s just sometimes overcoming that fear, but that’s my favorite passage.
4. What is a deacon as compared to a priest? What is the difference between the two? The sacrament of Holy Orders in the Catholic Church is in three degrees: Deacon, Priest, and Bishop. A Deacon in the Catholic Church is a fully-ordained minister who can do weddings, funerals, preach, teach, and baptize–basically the equivalent of a Protestant minister. The only things that a deacon cannot do, but a priest can do is consecrate the Eucharist or give absolution from sin. But I can do everything else, and for 17 years I have and do so gladly. I love doing what I do, it’s just so incredible.
5. Who are your favorite Biblical figures besides Jesus? St. Peter–gotta love Peter. He is our first Pope, and the first of the apostles, and was a struggling human just like the rest of us. I mean, this is a guy that on one hand say “Yes, Lord I’m with you always”, but in the next breath, Jesus told him “turn away from me, Satan!” He put his foot in his mouth a lot. He ran away. He denied Christ, but yet he redeemed himself. I think Peter is a great model for us; he reminds us that even the best of the best is just a slog like the rest of us. My second favorite is Moses. Here’s Moses the law-giver, Moses the liberator, Moses who fled Egypt as a fugitive and yet followed God and led his people out of slavery. A people who were oftentimes argumentative and acted like a bunch of children. And yet, Moses was their leader, and I admire hm.
6. Do you have a favorite saint? I love Padre Pio. He’s an incredible guy, I mean the man could levitate! He had such a great and strong prayer and faith life. And my other favorite saint is St. Nicholas, my patron saint. Nicholas is my patron because he is the wonder-worker and the inspiration for Santa Claus. I myself have been playing Santa Claus for 17 years, so Jolly old St. Nick is one of my favorite saints.
7. What is difficult about your job as a deacon? I have a unique perspective. I am a deacon in my childhood town and community, so I get to minister to the families and people I’ve known since I was a kid, and that’s awesome. It’s bittersweet because I bury my relatives and friends, married them and baptized their children. I’ve done hospital ministry and hospice ministry. But really the hardest thing is working within the church itself, because of the politics involved sometimes. People think the church is a wonderful place where everyone gets along and sings “Kum-by-ya”, but that ain’t necessarily so. The church is a divine organization, but it’s run by humans. Like a priest I know said, “wherever two or more are gathered in his name, there’s going to be a problem.” And that has been my greatest difficulty. “The church is a pretty place, but it ain’t Heaven yet.
8. What are the most rewarding things about your job as a deacon? I already mentioned some of those in the previous question, but it’s knowing the difference I made in people’s lives. I’ve counseled them. I used to teach school. To be there for people is the most rewarding thing there is. A man’s true worth is measured by what he does for someone else.
9. I notice on your FB profile, you are often dressed as Superman. Why do you like him? Why not? Superman is incredible, not because of his powers. It’s not the powers, but what he does with them. He is a godlike being who could punch a hole in the moon if he chose to. Like Moses, he was sent from destruction to a new life. Superman could take over the world, but instead he uses his gifts to help mankind. It’s like his father says in the first movie, “They are a great people, Kal-el, but they choose to be. All they need is a light to show them the way.” He became my hero ever since I saw the first movie in 1978. I saw myself as a nerd and a football team manager. He’s my favorite hero, second only to Batman. Although, I’m rather tired of the way he’s portrayed as a dark figure driven by the homicide of his parents. I’m so sick of that. I don’t think you have to make him so dark.
10. What do you do in your downtime? I read and collect comic books, memorabilia related to my fandoms–comics, Star Trek, Universal Monsters, Planet of the Apes, history, Doctor Who. (My wife got me into Doctor Who) I still cosplay, which is always fun. There aren’t many deacons I know who cosplay, but I see it as a valuable ministry tool.
11. What would you say to someone who wants to be a deacon or priest? If you have a calling, continue to pray, discern, and live your life. When we became a diocese, the priest wanted me to be a priest, my godmother told me to discern what God wanted. My desire was to serve God, but I also wanted to marry. I have two beautiful daughters and I’m married to my best friend Sue since 1990. Live your life, but continue college. If you have a true calling, it will always be there. Always.