FOR Keith Millage, his role as a Permanent Deacon is the fulfilment of a vocation long in the making. His first experience of being called happened at the age of 12 when he first became attracted to the “path to God”.

It was not until many years later that he experienced a divine intervention that left him in no doubt that he should pursue his journey towards ordination. Keith, aged 64, a Clerk of Works in the construction industry, is Deacon at the Church of Christ the King in Coventry. He believes entering the diaconate in 2016 has “drastically” changed his life for the better and says his vocation, the seeds of which were sown long ago, is ever-growing.

“I was baptised in the Church of England and I remember being in a church service when I was aged 12 and thinking the path to God would be a good way to go,” he said. “When I prayed to the Lord asking him to guide me, my first calling was for him to say there is a Ministry, but it’s too early.”

"This is a man who gave everything so freely for us.”

Years later, after a time that Deacon Keith describes as his “wilderness years, in no-man’s land,” he got married to Janette who was a Catholic and they decided to bring up their children in the Catholic faith at the Church of Christ the King. On one occasion, taking his two youngsters to pray the Stations of the Cross one Sunday he was overcome with the knowledge of Christ’s suffering. “I thought – this is a man who gave everything so freely for us.”

"It was as if somebody had tapped me on the shoulder and said to me – now is the beginning of the greatest journey you will ever go on."

Three years after that his journey towards the Catholic faith was confirmed by an extraordinary event in the same church. “I was walking into the church one Christmas morning when it was as if somebody had tapped me on the shoulder and said to me – now is the beginning of the greatest journey you will ever go on. I am still on that journey today.”

After being brought into the Church on Trinity Sunday, 1997, Keith found that he was being “pushed and guided” by the Lord to become a Deacon – and in due course he was accepted for a formation programme at Oscott College.

By entering the diaconate Keith has found the perfect place for his gifts as a “pastoral person” who is good with people. His multi-faceted duties include baptisms and funerals, hospital and school visits and pastoral work.

“I find that people come and talk to me because I am on their level,” he said. “Every morning I pray and ask the Lord – where do you need me to go today?

“For me, going out to give communion to the sick and visit people in hospital is a very important part of the ministry,” he said. “Our Lord always guides me and makes the time for me to go about my work.”

"Everyone has a vocation, a calling from God."

Father Harry Curtis, the Diocesan Director of the Permanent Diaconate, said: “Everyone has a vocation, a calling from God, and the call to be a Deacon is a wonderful one.

“The word deacon comes from the Greek word for a servant, and Deacons are ordained to the ministry of service, which from the early days of the Church has been characteristically associated with service of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised of society.

“They can proclaim the Gospel, preach, assist at Mass, administer the sacrament of Baptism, and officiate at weddings and funerals.

“A deacon seeks to be a man of prayer, humility, kindness, and generosity, trying to conform himself to Jesus’ teaching, ‘Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Mark 10:43-45)”

If you would like to know more about being a Deacon, please email Father Harry or phone on 02476 419 111.

More stories in the Summer edition of The Sower. Online now and in parishes from 1 August.