WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Deacon Rollie Comeau | Ponoka
Ronald (Rollie) Comeau always knew God expected more of him. He just didn't know what it was. When he thought God might have been calling him to the priesthood, he met his wife Joanne.
It all became clear to Comeau when his pastor encouraged him to become a permanent deacon. It felt right. He then understood God had been preparing him for that vocation all his life.
After four years of studies, Comeau, along with three others, was ordained to the permanent diaconate June 2 at St. Joseph's Basilica.
The 60-year-old retired teacher and school administrator is now ready to serve as an ordained deacon at St. Augustine Parish in Ponoka, assisting Father Krzysztof Sobanski.
People in town are fond of Comeau and are glad he accepted God's call. A busload of parishioners attended his ordination. Some of them have known him from the time he was an altar boy.
"I feel blessed to have so much support from this parish community," Comeau said in an interview. "People have been very forgiving and accepting of me."
As a deacon, Comeau says he is "at the will of the parish pastor," but already he is doing work at St. Augustine Catholic School and is expected to take charge of the RCIA team.
There are many ministries in the 200-family parish but Comeau says his role "is not to displace anything that is being done but to support those who are involved."
One area to which he vows to pay special attention, though, is evangelization. He wants to bring back to the fold those who have left.
Comeau, a member of the Knights of Columbus, runs a small farming operation east of Ponoka. He also enjoys reading and travelling with his wife.
Joanne has attended most of the diaconate formation weekends "and that's been a blessing because we've both grown in our own faith and it's certainly enriched our marriage," Comeau said. "So it has certainly been a transformation in our lives for both of us in a very positive way."
The call to service started early in life for Comeau, perhaps when he began serving at the altar as a young boy. As student he attended morning Mass often. In high school he got involved in the Young Christian Students, eventually becoming its provincial president.
St. Joseph's College at the University of Alberta nurtured his faith through university. When he graduated, he was fortunate to get a job in the Calgary Catholic school system, where he taught religion. Eventually he became school vice principal in charge of religious education. Later on in Ponoka he served as a lector and adult server.
Comeau remained single until age 31. "I kept feeling God was calling me to the priesthood." The Lord had other plans.
Soon after he returned to Ponoka in 1980 as principal of the local public high school, he met Joanne, who worked at Red Deer College at the time. They married in 1983 and have four children. "God's will was that I marry a Catholic girl."
One day Father Jim Corrigan, who served in Ponoka from 2006-08, asked Comeau to consider joining the diaconate formation program. Other parishioners approached him as well. At that point Comeau knew what God wanted of him.
He joined the program in 2008, following his retirement as a school principal.