WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Rose Anne and Randall Abele are members of St. Thomas More Parish in Edmonton.
Dr. Randall Abele, one of four recently ordained permanent deacons in Edmonton, never felt rushed by God in his vocation.
The 63-year-old member of St. Thomas More Parish first came in contact with the permanent diaconate in Ottawa, where he did his residence in urology and then worked for a few years.
There, in the 1980s, Abele and wife Rose Anne were involved in Marriage Encounter and the charismatic renewal. Some of their friends talked about becoming permanent deacons and four eventually did.
The thought crossed Abele's mind but moving back to Alberta became more important at the time. The Abeles had four children at the time and wanted them to grow up close to their extended family.
There was no diaconate program in the Edmonton Archdiocese at that time so when the Abeles returned to Edmonton in 1985 he buried any thoughts he might have had about the diaconate.
He got busy setting up his practise in urology, raising his family and serving in the Church. He and his family attended St. Agnes Parish before moving to St. Thomas in 1999.
"For years I forgot about the permanent diaconate. I put it on the back burner and I never even considered it."
When Archbishop Thomas Collins started the diaconate program in 2004, Abele was a member of the St. Luke's Catholic Physicians' Guild.
While attending a meeting of the guild one Saturday he met Deacon John Lindsay, who was in the formation program. He asked Abele to consider the diaconate. "I wasn't sure there was a call or not so I said I would consider it."
When he talked to his wife Rose Anne about Lindsay's proposal, he got nothing but approval. "I always thought you would be a good deacon," Rose Anne told him.
Soon others did the same, including the staff at the Marian Centre, where the Abeles volunteer.
"This call seemed to be coming from different places and I thought to myself 'Maybe God is calling me to do this.'"
He was accepted in the program in 2008 and in order to free up time for his studies and continue to receive an income, Abele decided to stop being an urologist with an office. For the past three years he has been doing surgical assisting at the Misericordia and the University hospitals.
"This gives me the freedom (I need)," he said. "I don't have to have the office or the secretarial staff."
One of Abele's biggest challenges during diaconate formation was the tragic death of his 27-year-old daughter Suzanne last year in a work-related accident.
Abele was one of four men ordained to the permanent diaconate by Archbishop Richard Smith at St. Joseph's Basilica June 2.
As a deacon, Abele expects to assist Father Andrew Bogdanowicz at the altar and to continue leading the men's Scripture studies, which he started. In the past, Abele had also been involved in baptismal preparation and choir singing. His interests include music, reading, astronomy, aquarium and growing orchids.
"This seems to be a calling that came through other people," he said of his vocation.
Abele was born and raised in Edmonton and went to medical school at the University of Alberta. In 1972 he went to Ottawa to do his internship.
He then worked as a general practitioner in Taber, for two years before going back to Ottawa to do his four-year urology training. After a year in an Ohio clinic, he returned to Ottawa, where he worked as an urologist for four years before returning to Edmonton.