Like many jobs, the vocation of deacon has changed over the years for Doug Boyer. Boyer, a deacon for St. Mary Parish, Belleville, says his vocation is nothing like he thought it would be.
“I thought I’d be doing hospital visits and things like that,” he says. But these days he does a lot of liturgical things. “I preach almost ever week,” he says. Like all deacons, he “baptizes, marries and buries.” But the bulk of his time as deacon is taken up as Master of Ceremonies and as chancellor for the diocese.
“As emcee my job is to make sure everything runs smoothly whether at Mass, a prayer service or a visit,” he says. As chancellor he is responsible for the diocesan archives and processes certain dispensations for marriages.
As a college senior at UMSL, Boyer was leaning toward the priesthood. “I was really active in my parish and the Newman Center,” he recalls. The priest at the Newman Center was the vicar for deacons for the Jefferson City (Mo.) diocese. Through that relationship, Boyer learned what deacons do. “I thought it just might work,” he said. “Before I got married I told my future wife (Geri) that she would be marrying a chemist and a deacon. It was a package deal. She was supportive.”
Doug and Geri have been married 37 years now and have two grown children and two grandchildren. Geri is a civil engineer and owns her own company.
The diaconate, however, had to wait until he turned 35, the minimum age for deacons, before he could enroll in a diaconate class. His first assignment was Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Waterloo. “I don’t think they’d ever seen a deacon before,” he says.
Boyer retired two years ago after working 30 years in the chemistry field. His retirement ended pretty quickly, when he took a job as director of the King’s House in Belleville. He is the first non-Oblate to run the retreat center.
He says men often come up to him and ask him about his vocation. A few of those men will soon be ordained deacons.
“I’ve had the opportunity to travel the pathway of faith with so many extraordinary people,” he says. “I’ve had the honor of being with so many families as they welcomed new family members or said goodbye.” That includes his own extended family. Boyer has baptized 17 family members and married eight.
“It is hard to believe that 21 years have gone by since I was ordained,” he says. “It’s been nothing like I expected. Only God knows what the next two decades will bring.”