It’s ‘game on’ for Terry Jancik as he prepares to be ordained a permanent deacon

Terry Jancik grew up just blocks from St. Anthony Church in St. Cloud where the playground became a lot like the baseball field in the popular film “The Sandlot” — a place where all the neighbor kids gathered and spent the whole day, sometimes going back again after supper, until Mom flashed the porch lights and everyone scattered.

The youngest of six Jancik boys, two who died in infancy, Terry said the neighborhood was a very active place. Often when there was a need at church, the priest would call on the Janciks to help with anything from heavy lifting to altar serving.

Faith wasn’t something he really thought about; it was something he and his family just lived. His father converted to Catholicism when he married Terry’s mother and he practiced it until his death in 2015. His mother and maternal grandparents also played a big role in developing his spiritual life.

Terry and Barb Jancik (Photo submitted)

As a young man, Terry recalls considering the priesthood but really felt called to marriage and family life, especially after meeting Barb Wenner at a youth group-sponsored Halloween dance at St. Anthony’s in 1981.

“Barb was from Sacred Heart in Sauk Rapids so I didn’t know her,” Terry said. “The youth minister said she was kind of shy and asked me to visit with her. I was pretty outgoing and I’d talk to just about anyone who would listen, so I said yes. We had a great conversation.”

About three months later, Barb, who attended Cathedral High School and was the principal’s daughter, asked Terry to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and the rest is history. The couple dated and eventually married in 1988 at Sacred Heart in Sauk Rapids and proceeded to have five children: Abby, 29, (husband Jake Mengelkoch, and daughter, Norah, 1); Michael, 27, (fiancé Stephanie Kitowski); Eric, 24; Theresa, 20; and Isaiah, 16.

Just before their daughter Theresa was born in 2000, Terry had the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage to Oberammergau, Germany, and Lourdes and Paris, France.

“Everything aligned to get me on that trip,” Terry said. “My time, especially in Lourdes, was life-altering. That doesn’t even really scratch the surface. It was a profound experience that really cannot be described in words.”

Not long after that, Deacon Joseph Kresky asked Terry if he had ever considered becoming a deacon. That lit a spark in Terry, and over the next few years, he started praying about it and asking trusted friends if they saw qualities in him that would make him a good candidate for the diaconate.

“Everybody that I talked to gave me a resounding yes. So I prayed about it more, began the application process in 2013 and three days before my 50th birthday in January 2015, I was officially accepted into diaconate formation. Best birthday present ever,” he said.

Terry Jancik gives a reflection at Sacred Heart in Sauk Rapids. (Photo courtesy of Sacred Heart)

But just shortly after he began formal classes at St. John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, tragedy struck and his formation almost ended before it began. Terry’s father passed away that November.

“Had it not been for my professor, Jakob Rinderknecht, who had such patience with me and gave me the grace to be able to complete my assignments during that time, I probably would’ve packed up my bag and gone home,” Terry recalled.

Through the support of the faculty as well as his classmates, he got through that time, and again in 2017, when he lost his mother.

“Some of the greatest blessings of the whole formation process besides strengthening my faith were my fellow students. The SOT offers a mixed culture not only ethnically but in age and perspectives. And the faculty was incredible. They embodied the Benedictine traditions of hospitality and of welcoming all as Christ.”

Due to the pandemic, Terry’s ordination, originally planned for this past June, was postponed. It is now set for Aug. 15 at Sacred Heart Church in Sauk Rapids. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside, and participants will be limited in order to observe physical-distancing guidelines.

Terry currently serves as the parish secretary at the St. Cloud parishes of St. Peter and St. Paul. Once ordained, he will continue in that role as well as serve his ACC community, which is comprised of Sacred Heart, Sauk Rapids; Annunciation, Mayhew Lake; St. Francis Xavier, Sartell; and St. Stephen, St. Stephen.

“I’m most excited to serve the people of God and of the diocese and break open the Word of God through Scripture and homilies,” he said.

One of the gifts Terry has developed over the years is public speaking, a talent that will serve him well as he begins to preach the Gospel.

In high school, Terry was part of a group of Explorers sponsored by WJON for young people who were interested in a career in radio broadcasting.

“Once I got in the radio booth and started punching buttons, dials and knobs, I was hooked,” he said.

Terry Jancik pitches a softball as part of the Sacred Heart softball team. (Photo submitted)

He helped produce a half-hour radio show that aired monthly. He then went to St. Cloud State University seeking a degree in mass communications and speech communications. He eventually spent time as a sales representative with Spirit 92.9. Recently, he and two of his SOT classmates — Deacon Phil Henneman and deacon-candidate Bob Wahlquist — started a podcast called “Strange Catholics,” which covers hot topics of the day.

In addition to preaching, Terry plans to continue his work in marriage ministry at Sacred Heart and dreams of offering more ways to reach out to couples of all ages after they receive the sacrament. He also wants to be present to people for whatever needs they may have. And he hopes to continue his involvement with the Sacred Heart softball team, which he started in 1989 and has been a part of for more than 30 years.

“I see my gifts as really being empathetic and compassionate toward people. I really enjoy being able to stop and listen. That is something that was strengthened during formation. It is making me a better minister,” he said.

“After my dad died, I saw how that changes your life, impacts you as person. There’s no textbook or road map to tell you how you can get through it. I would love to be able to have mentors or people to talk to when you run into these situations.”

Above all, Terry wants to serve the Lord by modeling God’s love in the world.

“Evangelization is important to me. You don’t have to stand on a street corner to evangelize,” Terry said. “I am always reminded of the lyrics of the old hymn, ‘They will know we are Christians by our love.’ I just want to be an example of trying to love everybody I encounter.”

Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the associate editor for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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