This is not just good news, but very good news. Archbishop Cupich has appointed Deacon Alfred Coleman II to serve here at St. James. July 1 is the date the appointment takes effect, and so he and his wife, Avis, will be formally introduced to the parish at both of the masses on Sunday, July 5, as he begins his service among us.
Deacon Coleman was ordained in 2003, in the same class as Deacon Terry Collins, and since then he has served at St. Basil-Visitation Church; St. James will be his second assignment in the diaconate. He brings to St. James a wealth of experience and skills that make him an especially good “fit” for this parish that has a pronounced
emphasis on social care and social services. He has been the
director of Zacchaeus House since 2007, and before that he was the Assistant Executive Director of Port Ministries. So a large part of his work experience has involved networking with other service providers and coordinating volunteers and volunteer efforts. He served in the Illinois National Guard for ten years. He is a long time member of the Knights of Columbus and has been very
active in that organization, and he has also made profession as a member of the Secular Franciscan Order.
The way things are done in the Catholic Church, although it is only the man who is ordained to the diaconate, the wife is a full partner, both in the years of formation and in the work of service. Avis currently works at Holy Angels School and volunteers as a religion teacher at Visitation School. She has a master’s degree in pastoral education from Loyola University here in Chicago. She is certified by the Archdiocese as both a catechist and a youth minister. She is a facilitator for the VIRTUS program, which trains employees and volunteers in the Archdiocese regarding the
protection and safety of children and young people. She has also
received training in the art of spiritual direction at the Claret
Center of Chicago, and is a member of Spiritual Directors International.
In the process of discerning his second diaconal assignment, Deacon Coleman may, or may not, have been influenced by his classmate, Deacon Terry Collins. Terry, once he knew that he would be leaving St. James, put a lot of time and energy into recommending St. James to Deacon Coleman for his consideration. It appears that our debt of gratitude to Terry just keeps increasing, as we thank him for these efforts.
So we are very much looking forward to July and the arrival of Deacon Alfred and Avis Coleman. Let us hope and pray that their time and ministry at St. James may be long and fruitful.
Fr. Bob Sprott, O.F.M.