Serving Christ and Others: Mr. Hennekes’s Journey as He is Becoming a Deacon

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Serving Christ and Others: Mr. Hennekes’s Journey as He is Becoming a Deacon

Dave Luecking

Dave Luecking

Dave Luecking

Alyssa Buchheit, Editor in Chief

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On October 10, 2019, St. Dominic science teacher Mr. Bob Hennekes received the Rite of Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders. Mr. Hennekes has been studying to become a deacon for the past two years, and he is more than ecstatic for all that comes after being officially enrolled in the program.

In high school, Mr. Hennekes felt a tug towards the priesthood and seriously contemplated it, but decided to go to college and become either a teacher or chemical engineer. He kept his faith life up at the University of California, Davis, spending lots of time in the Newman Center, but being anything other than part of the laity never crossed his mind during this time.

Mr. Hennekes went on to become a chemical engineer, and he worked his tail off, earning job positions that allowed him to travel all over the world as an engineer, salesman and manager. However, at a certain point he began to understand that God was calling him to become a teacher.

“I truly believe God called me to come and teach. He asked me to give up my career as a chemical engineer, manager and salesman who got to travel around the world, and he asked me if I could use those talents to take care of his children,” Mr. Hennekes said.

At the time, Mr. Hennekes’s dad was aging and living in St. Louis, so he came back to his native city and wound up with a job at St. Dominic High School. He gets to teach chemistry, physics, engineering and math every day, along with coaching football, and he enjoys the whole St. Dominic community. After a couple of years, the familiar feeling of God tugging him towards more in his faith life returned.

“Two years ago I was at the teachers’ annual end-of-school-year Mass. As Mass was going on, all of a sudden during the sermon, God said ‘Bob, I need you to do more.’ I heard him, and I looked around real quick. My response back to God was ‘Lord, what more do you want?’ I’ve given up my career and everything I previously thought was important in order to teach school. There was no answer at that moment, so I began to pray and contemplate what it was God wanted,” Mr. Hennekes said.

After months of reading scripture, praying and contemplating God’s desires, Mr. Hennekes believed that God either wanted him to enhance his faith life in the laity, become a priest or become a deacon. Now that he knew all three were options for him, he talked to Father Chris Martin, who at the time was the director of the Office of Vocations for the Archdiocese.

“After a short period of time, he [Fr. Martin] said very clearly, ‘Bob, you ought to be a deacon.’ I asked, ‘Chris, why would you say that?’ and he said, ‘Well, you have way too strong of a faith life not to do something further. I really think you should think of being a deacon or a priest. But, if you’re a priest, you’re going to have to give up teaching and tons of visits from your kids, as you would be in the seminary for five or six years.Whereas, if you became a deacon, you could continue teaching and have your life as you know it with your children while getting ordained,’” Mr. Hennekes said.

Mr. Hennekes prayed some more, then agreed and sent in his application soon after. He loves learning more about God in class, while also getting to know God more intimately on a personal level.

“The best part of the process easily is the relationship with God. While I’ve always had a close relationship with God—which has gotten better and better over the years—one of the things that this has done is focused me on really being humble to whatever it is that God wants and desires…I spend a lot of time in prayer asking God ‘What do you want of me?’ and really focusing on what He desires. I am trying harder than I ever have before to simply turn me off and turn God on,” Mr. Hennekes said.

Deacons are committed to serving others, and while they are not given the gifts to consecrate bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, given confession or give last rites, they can marry and baptize others in the Catholic Church, which they do energetically with open arms.

Mr. Hennekes knows just how hard it can be to discern and hopes to help those who are in the process of discerning:

“The thing to do, at least as far as I’m concerned, is to really pray and listen. Don’t try to run the process. Just listen to God because He will help you…I don’t mean listening to other people and trying to see what they’re saying between the lines, I mean that you need to actually be in front of the sacred host in Adoration and at times during the Eucharist…Most importantly, I think you need to be patient. Most of us don’t have the patience—me included—to really just give it time. What if God wants a day? A week? A month? A year? Do we have the patience to do that? God really wants us to patiently listen for Him, and when we do, the answers show up. It’s really cool,” Mr. Hennekes said.

As Mr. Hennekes and the rest of the Class of 2022 gear up for their next three years of study before they become deacons, join us in congratulating him in his official entry into the program. We’re so glad he’s a Crusader!

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