Four men prepare for diaconate ordination June

At ordination, a deacon becomes a member of the clergy who makes a promise of obedience to the bishop and commits his life in service to the church. Deacons can proclaim the Gospel, preach and teach, and administer the sacraments of baptism and marriage.
Four men in the Diocese of St. Cloud are preparing for ordination June 16 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral in St. Cloud. Three of the four will be ordained transitional deacons: seminarians Rick Aubol, Mark Botzet and Gregory Sauer. Dean Pawlowski will be ordained a permanent deacon.

All four men will be ordained during the same rite; however, the promise transitional deacons make includes a vow of celibacy and is the next step toward priesthood ordination, which usually occurs within one year of the diaconate ordination. To learn more about deacons,  visit

Permanent deacon will serve Fergus Falls parish

About 10 years ago, Dean Pawlowski, a member of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Fergus Falls, first felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit prompting him to “do something more.”

At the time, he wasn’t sure what the Lord was asking him to do. He spoke with his then-pastor, Father Greg Paffel, as well as Deacon Chuck Kampa, who also serves in the parish.

“It was recommended that I get a spiritual director and continue discerning,” Pawlowski recalled. “I met with him for about a year and a half and decided the diaconate was worth pursuing.”

Dean Pawlowski

Pawlowski started the formal application process in 2012 and began diaconate formation in 2013.

When he reflects back over his life, he notes there were many moments when God was leading him down the path toward becoming a deacon.

“God would send me a signal and I didn’t realize it until I reflected back. When I was younger, I visited my cousins in Chicago and someone else besides the priest was giving the homily. I later learned that it was my cousin — a deacon — who was preaching. That was something that really left an impression on me,” Pawlowski said.

Dean works as an engineer at Otter Tail Power Company in Fergus Falls, where he lives with his wife, Sarah, a fourth-grade teacher at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School, and their children: Will, 16, and Sophia, 13.

“When Dean first shared with me that he felt called to discern the diaconate, I felt joy for him because I could see his excitement about God’s call,” Sarah said. “I believe I was also filled with questions about what this would mean for me and our family, but I knew that we were in God’s hands and all would happen as was meant to be.”

Sarah said one thing she has loved is seeing Dean “dive into the world of theology.”

“In his studies, Dean has learned so much and wants to learn so much more,” she said. “What I have also enjoyed about the formation process is how much our family has grown in our Catholic faith. It has been such a blessing to pray with and for Dean, to hear about what he is learning, to have conversations about our faith, and to serve with him at OLV.

“I think that our family has bonded in a very special way during these last several years,” she said. “Also, I have really appreciated the support of our amazing parish community.”

In addition to his immediate family, Dean said his extended relatives as well as his parish family are very supportive of his vocation as a deacon. The parish is sending a bus full of parishioners to the ordination and hosting a supper at the parish hall that evening.

“We are filled with joy and excitement with Dean and his family as his ordination approaches,” said Father Alan Wielinski, pastor of Our Lady of Victory. “Dean is prayerful and has a servant heart. He has worked hard to come to this point, and it is a sign of his desire to respond to God’s call. I look forward to his work with our young people particularly in the confirmation program, his continued commitment to our social concerns ministry and occasional preaching.

“Dean also has a heart for the sick and suffering,” Father Wielinski added. “I’ve been struck by the loving support he’s received from his wonderful wife and children as he’s gone through formation and that will continue to be important. Dean will be the second permanent deacon serving in our parish along with Chuck Kampa. We are eager to welcome his ministry.”

Dean, who has taught confirmation and worked with faith formation, said teaching the faith will continue to be important to him once he is ordained.

“Teaching is what I enjoy but I am also excited to see where the Holy Spirit leads. I am open to whatever else may come,” he said.

“Mostly, I am looking forward to growing further in love with the Lord.”

Transitional deacons

Mark Botzet
Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul
Home parish: St. Nicholas, Belle River
A little about Mark’s family: Gary and Diane, parents; an older brother and sister-in-law, two nieces and three nephews.

Q: Who has been a role model or inspiration to you as you’ve discerned the priesthood?

Mark Botzet

A: All of the priests who have been assigned to my home parish in Belle River have played some type of role that inspired my vocation. Some of them I have had the privilege to serve Mass with, while others I have visited with after Mass and at church functions. Two of those priests have made visits to my parent’s farm.

Father [Richard] McGuire impacted my vocation by the way he celebrated Mass with great energy and memorable homilies. I was also inspired by St. Pope John Paul II, his travels and diplomatic works of peace that I would hear about on the news or in magazines.

Q: What has been the most important tool for you as you have prepared for this step?

A: The most important tool that prepared me for this step is the formation that I have received from my advisers and spiritual directors at the seminary.

Q: What are you most looking forward to doing as a transitional deacon?

A: I am looking forward to deaconing at Mass and preaching.

Gregory John Sauer
Seminary: St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul
Home parish: St. Mary of Mount Carmel, Long Prairie
A little about Gregory’s family: Jeffrey and Debbie Sauer, parents; siblings Elizabeth, Jeremy, Theresa, Laura, Anne, Joseph, Bernadette, Bridget and Melissa.

Gregory Sauer

Q: Who has been a role model or inspiration to you as you’ve discerned the priesthood?

A: Father Mark Stang was my pastor when I was a young boy. His example of a young priest who loved God and his people was very influential to me in my formative years. He was a model of a priest who showed me the joy of the priesthood.

Q: What has been the most important tool for you as you have prepared for this step?

A: One of the most important tools I have used in preparing for ordination is spiritual direction. It has allowed me to discuss the joys and struggles with someone and receive meaningful feedback.

Q: What are you most looking forward to doing as a transitional deacon?

A: After six years of studying in the seminary, I am looking forward to applying that training to minister to the people of God.

Rick Aubol
Seminary: Pontifical North American College, Rome
Home parish: Mary of the Visitation in Becker/Big Lake
A little about Rick’s family: Bruce and Mary, parents; Dan and Michael, brothers; Christy, sister

Richard Aubol

Q: Who has been a role model or inspiration to you as you’ve discerned the priesthood?

A: I have to say that my parents, my pastors growing up, especially at my Newman Center in college, and my professors in seminary, both priests and laypersons, have all been not only such phenomenal sources of knowledge, but inspirational examples of living truth in and with love.

Q: What has been the most important tool for you as you have prepared for this step?

A: In a word, prayer. I know that I could and would not be where I am without the prayerful support of so many and the growth in my own prayer life, in particular the Liturgy of the Hours and the Mass.

Q: What are you most looking forward to doing as a transitional deacon?

A: Though it makes me a little nervous, even more so, the prospect of preaching has me very excited. God loves us and wants to give so much to us; it is a great, beautiful, and mysterious part of his love that he chooses to call certain men, unworthy though they be, to this particular ministry and service, to work through them, giving his grace to the whole church by them. It is really his ministry and grace to his Bride, the Church, and it is a humbling honor to be called to serve by receiving this role, including especially playing this particular part in the church’s life.

Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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