When Vincent Charles’ father died in 2012, he took to the pavement to deal with his grief. “Running was a good way for me to heal from the loss of my dad,” Vince said. “The year he died, I signed up for the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, which landed on my mom’s birthday. Running became a very spiritual exercise for me, somewhere I could spend time with the Lord.”
Eight marathons and multiple half-marathons later, Vince is geared up for his latest and perhaps one of his most important pursuits: the permanent diaconate.
He is scheduled to be ordained Nov. 13 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Isanti. Bishop Donald Kettler will preside at the 4 p.m. Mass.
“I’m just so humbled to have this opportunity and privilege to serve in this way,” Vince said. “I will always try to lead a ministry that bears fruit. I am certain that I will not always have the answers or be fully prepared for each situation, but I firmly believe that God is beside me and will help provide what I need to be a minister in his Church.”
Active in his faith from a young age, Vince considered the priesthood. But growing up in a close-knit home with six siblings, he always knew he wanted to raise a family. He had no idea that God would bless him so abundantly.
“I have two children, Cassie and Nick, who were both born with a disability, although somebody forgot to tell them that because they do whatever they put their minds to. Both of my children do not have arms and just have hands at the shoulders. This is how they have always been so they have worked hard to find ways to adapt. Cassie drives with her feet. Nick, who has albinism, can’t drive but can do all he needs to do. To see Nick care for his son and feed him when he was a baby with his feet was incredible to watch,” he said.
“Growing up with my children and their different capacities has changed me as a person. I think I’m a different person, a better person, because of my kids.”
An avid outdoorsman, Vince has taught his children to enjoy nature, spending time hunting, fishing and enjoying God’s creation — something he also turned into a business venture.
Most of his life, he has been self-employed as a realtor and developer.
Most recently, he added Holy Buckets Adventures, where he helps others experience the great outdoors.
“My wife, Karen, and I love doing things outdoors, and we have tried to find ways to incorporate our ministry into that. We have led cross country skiing outings while praying the rosary,” he said.
Both Vince and Karen share a deep love for their Catholic faith. Together they minister to the homebound, including those in nursing home facilities.
Vince believes that God sparked his interest in becoming a deacon through his involvement in various ministries at his parish. He serves as a lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and taught religious education for 13 years prior to entering the diaconate formation program.
“I really felt that I was being called to get even more involved in my church, so the diaconate was the answer to that stirring within me,” he said.
In 2016, he started classes at St. John’s School of Theology and Seminary in Collegeville, with Karen often by his side, completing his studies this spring.
“My wife has been very supportive during the time of formation. She has been a very positive influence on me in my faith life and prayer life,” Vince said.
During his studies, he participated in Clinical Pastoral Education at St. Cloud Hospital, which teaches pastoral care for clergy and chaplains.
“Visiting people in need has always been something I have enjoyed, the homebound or those in nursing homes and hospitals. When I had my CPE, I found that to be very interesting, and it placed me in a position to help people, to be present with them during their time of need. It was a great gift to be able to visit and pray or talk with patients. I also got to be with parents and newborn babies,” he said.
“The path I took in my life was not always the easy path, but it had its purpose and it has helped me grow as a person, a father, a husband and in my faith.”
Vince said he perceives himself ministering as a deacon primarily in hospital and nursing home settings.
“It’s something my wife and I enjoy doing together now with homebound ministry and something we both can continue to do. We just now have that added formation that I think will benefit us and those we serve,” Vince said.
He is also looking forward to preaching and administering some of the sacraments in the parish as well as assisting his pastor.
“Whatever the needs are I hope to help my pastor Father Don Wagner, my church community and even the larger community we live in,” he said.
Vince’s journey has not always been an easy one. Both he and Karen had previous marriages and went through divorce and annulment. They also together have a beautiful blended family, which includes Karen’s children: Joe, Jon, Mary and Tim. Vince firmly believes that every step of the way, God was preparing him for the next turn.
“It isn’t the easiest to talk about my past,” Vince admitted. “To end up where I’m at today, to have gone through marriage, divorce and annulment, may not be a normal path to the diaconate. Karen and I have gone through the diaconate formation together, and we both have a desire for it.
“However hard it was, we’ve gained a great experience by going through a previous marriage that didn’t go the way we thought it would. It’s a part of me and a part of our story, and maybe it will spark someone to know that it is something they can do by the grace of God. The path I took in my life was not always the easy path, but it had its purpose and it has helped me grow as a person, a father, a husband and in my faith.”