(Editor’s note: Following is the next installment of the Herald’s monthly series profiling a priest or deacon serving in the Diocese of Colorado Springs. This month’s article features Deacon Rob Rysavy, who was ordained June 20, 2020 and who currently serves at Divine Redeemer Parish. He is also the President of St. Mary’s High School.)
For many years, I ignored heeding God’s call to the permanent diaconate; however, God will not be ignored!
My journey began during twelve years of Catholic school in South Dakota. When I left home for the Air Force Academy, I rapidly became distracted by academics and military life. I attended Mass, sang in the choir, went on retreats, and participated in the occasional Bible study; but instead of a “human being,” I was more of a “human doing.”
That “doing” was reinforced after graduation from the academy. I embarked on my career, married my amazing wife Michelle, and joyfully parented six children. We were involved in our parishes. We home-schooled our children and sent them to traditional Catholic schools. I was busily engaged in my hobbies of being a mediocre triathlete and marathoner, reading book after book, backpacking and hiking — lots of “do,” not much “be.”
Then one day, over 20 years ago, Mr. Brad Noonan (before he was Father Brad) suggested I consider discerning being a deacon. I promptly ignored that, and embarked on a decade-long effort of studiously avoiding discernment.
As the word “deacon” kept appearing, I just kept ignoring until I found myself in an Air Force chapel in South Korea, thousands of miles from home and family. That day, the visiting deacon stepped up to give the homily, and as part of that homily he said, “Men, you need to discern a call to the diaconate.” Exasperated, I decided to stop running and I finally started discerning.
We retired from the Air Force, returned to Colorado Springs, and — much to my surprise — I found myself in formation for the permanent diaconate. Certainly now everything would get simpler, I thought, but then came a series of challenges. A year into formation, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer, our youngest child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I was commuting over 700 miles to my job as the president of a pro-life nonprofit in Missouri.
I began to doubt. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was not called to be a deacon. In the midst of that turmoil, a classmate, Deacon Bob Elliott, gently reminded me, “Your suffering is part of your formation.” It was an “ah ha” moment — just because the journey is hard does not mean we avoid the journey.
That lengthy and often difficult journey culminated with ordination as a deacon last year, and a subsequent assignment to Divine Redeemer Parish.
While I was still in the formation program, St. Mary’s High School offered me the privilege of being their president. This was a great blessing, as Catholic education changed the trajectory of my life, and St. Mary’s has been a powerful gift to our family. Three of our children are St. Mary’s grads, two are in the school, with one more on the way.
Working in an authentically Catholic high school while being assigned to a parish with a Catholic school provides me with constant opportunities to answer the call to serve. God has a plan!
I invite you to visit me at St. Mary’s High School or at Divine Redeemer to hear “the rest of the story!” And men, you need to discern a call to the diaconate!
Those who feel they might be called to the priesthood or permanent diaconate can contact Father Kyle Ingels at firstname.lastname@example.org or Deacon Chris Kennedy at email@example.com.