Harmonizing: the challenge of the man with two vocations

by Kiki Hayden

North Texas Catholic

May 4, 2020

Deacon Kevin BagleyDeacon Kevin Bagley
Deacon Kevin Bagley at Saint Andrew Catholic Church. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH — One evening while the kids were asleep, Kevin and Donna Bagley sat in the living room, listening to the whir of the dishwasher in the kitchen. “He looked like he was contemplating… deep in thought,” recalled Mrs. Bagley.

Kevin Bagley wasn’t entirely satisfied with his retail job. So, he turned to his wife and asked, “What should I be when I grow up?”

Right away, she responded, “You’re happiest in the Church.”

“That was the catalyst that set everything in motion,” Deacon Bagley told the North Texas Catholic.

After years of discernment, catechesis, and formation, he was ordained a permanent deacon. He served in Baltimore, then briefly in Seattle. Eventually he and his wife settled in the Diocese of Fort Worth.

“Deacons are married clergy,” Dcn. Bagley said. “This is the challenge of the man who has two vocations: one to marriage, and one to Holy Orders….  I’m not a fan of work/life balance… Our lives are more like an orchestra. How do we try to keep it all in harmony?” 

For Dcn. Bagley, this means, “God comes first. With the diaconate, the family comes second. And then your diaconal assignment would come third.”


God First:  Listening to the Call

 The diaconate has drawn Dcn. Bagley closer to God. “I pray more; I go to Adoration; I’m attentive and active in the celebration of the Eucharist.”

“[The diaconate] is a calling, just like any man who is called to be a priest,” Mrs. Bagley said.

So how should a man discern whether he is called to the diaconate? “Prayer and Adoration,” Dcn. Bagley advised. “Sit in front of our Lord and say, ‘What will You have me do?’” The deacon encourages men discerning a call to the permanent diaconate to talk to priests and other deacons, and to explore volunteer opportunities in the Church. 

Established by the Apostles during the infancy of the Church to serve the needs of Greek-speaking widows and orphans abandoned by society, the diaconate is a distinct ministry of Christian service. Permanent deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach and instruct, assist at liturgies, baptize, witness the exchange of wedding vows, bring Viaticum to the dying, officiate at funerals, and perform acts of charity.

If a man feels called to the diaconate, he should submit an application to the Office of the Permanent Diaconate. The man must be at least 35 years old and be in a strong, stable marriage with the “full, genuine, and active support of his wife,” according to the diocese website.  (For more details about application requirements and formation process for the diaconate, visit fwdioc.org/deacon-formation). 

“In a loving and supportive relationship, we want the best for our spouse… I believe [wives] need to be supportive and they need to be honest,” Dcn. Bagley said. “Does she feel this is right for her; does she feel this is right for the family?”


Family Second: Harmonizing

Not only should a prospective deacon’s wife be on board, so should the whole nuclear family, Dcn. Bagley explained.

“The family dynamic is going to change, and the whole family’s involved…  My kids can stack chairs like nobody’s business,” he said.

Growing up, his son was an altar server, and his wife became involved in ministries such as fundraising for a mission in Haiti and participating in CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreats. 

“If [Kevin] wasn’t where he is, I don’t know that I would be as faith-filled,” Mrs. Bagley gushed.

Often church responsibilities (such as being present to a class of first communicants) conflict with family responsibilities (such as attending a grandchild’s birthday party). In the event of a schedule conflict, Dcn. Bagley considers where it is most important for him to be on that day. “Sometimes I’m late for things on the family side,” he confessed.

Mrs. Bagley described changes that the diaconate made on the division of labor at home:  “I had to shoulder a little more responsibility… helping at home, doing the yard, because he was going to school in the evenings…  My calling is to be supportive.”

Dcn. Bagley recognizes the sacrifices made by his wife. “So when I realize I’ve put in a lot of time at the office, then… let’s make sure I do something special for my other vocation of marriage.”


Church Third: Serving God’s People

Unlike most permanent deacons, Dcn. Bagley works full time for his home parish, St. Andrew in Fort Worth. More typically, he also serves in several volunteer capacities, including serving on the Deacon Formation Team of the diocese, mentoring a cohort of deacon candidates, teaching classes — and, of course, serving at Mass.

When asked about his favorite moment in the Mass, Dcn. Bagley groaned. “Oh, I love the whole Liturgy; that’s not fair!” He paused. “Receiving the Eucharist, participating in the distribution of the Eucharist… But also, being the herald of the Gospel… actively participating in the high point of the Liturgy of the Word.”

For Dcn. Bagley, the “charism of orders” is a call to evangelization. “[I] am the one that should be bringing God into the equation. Whether it’s a relationship in the grocery store, in the doctor’s office, on the roadway…. At home, at work, everywhere.”

At 2:30 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, Dcn. Bagley found himself walking back to his office from the parking lot, brandishing a plastic Holy Water dispenser. His day had been filled with meetings and appointments. “And then there’s a car blessing,” he added, grinning.

Dcn. Bagley shares God’s grace everywhere. Even in parking lots.

Deacon Kevin Bagley

FORT WORTH — One evening while the kids were asleep, Kevin and Donna Bagley sat in the living room, listening to the whir of the dishwasher in the kitchen.

Published (until 5/4/2036)