By Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
Bishop Paul Sirba began his homily by cracking a joke about his tech-savvy new deacon, Deacon John Foucault, whom he ordained Nov. 23 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary, and who also serves as chair of the diocesan Technology Committee.
Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross
“Deacons are ordained to serve, that is true,” he said. “Even before his ordination today, John was given the rather unenviable task of instructing his bishop — that would be me — in the use of technology. That was a service of the highest degree.”
But he said the real service of a deacon was described in the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus says whoever cares for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, stranger and imprisoned cares for him.
“Blessed Teresa of Calcutta used to say that is why we have five digits on our hands — ‘you did it for me’ — as a constant reminder that what we do to the least ones we do to the Lord,” the bishop said.
Noting the different ministries of the deacon, he said, “None of these things you do would be possible if there were not a change in who you are.” He said Deacon Foucault and his wife Julie had already described a change in ongoing conversion in their lives and that he would also experience an ontological change lasting into eternity in the sacrament of holy orders.
“You will be changed on the very level of your being,” he said.
He proposed three things to the new deacon: staying close to Jesus, especially in people in need; staying close to the Blessed Mother and the rosary; and loving the priests with whom he will serve, beginning with his current pastor, Father Eric Hastings at St. Benedict in Duluth.
Deacon Foucault was born and raised in Duluth, a cradle Catholic from St. James parish and the youngest of eight children. He married his high school sweetheart, Julie, in 1986, he said, and has three children, Nicholas, Kyle and Amber. After moving to the Woodland area of Duluth and attending St. John the Evangelist for five years, the family moved to St. Benedict, where they have been for 23 years.
Deacon Foucault graduated with a degree in computer information systems from the College of St. Scholastica and had a 10-year career at Maurices before starting his own technology company, Points North, in 1994, which has served clients across the country and marked its 20th anniversary in October.
He’s also been busy in other ways.
“I’ve always had a desire and a call for service,” he said in an interview before his ordination. He has been a Rotarian since 2008 and before that was in Kiwanis for about eight years.
He said he discerned a call to the diaconate over a long period of seeking God’s plan for his life, and when he first began to be drawn to the ministry of a deacon, he didn’t really acknowledge it, wondering if the call was real. And if so, why him?
But finally he spoke to Julie, and they decided to explore it together. It became part of who they are.
“We went though formation process and have had a great reward in growing our marriage, developing our spiritual lives and growing closer to God together, which has been just a great gift,” he said.
He’s also developed as a person, he said, learning about his gifts and how God is calling him to use them.
Deacon Foucault said that despite having a personality that has always wanted to be in control, he has learned to let go and trust God’s plan, and also not to let the little things bother him.
Food not coming on time at restaurant? Flights not connecting? “Doesn’t matter to me anymore,” he said. “My kids have even noticed that, and my wife.”
He said he’s also been given a “gift of time,” finding a good balance that is allowing him to accomplish a lot in the different areas of his life while giving priority to his family.
He said he’s also deepened his prayer life and grown comfortable sharing his faith.
Deacon Foucault believes he has a clear vision of where his ministry is going. “I believe my ministry is being developed within the elderly, the ill and the dying, as well as the spiritual poor, individuals looking to come back to the church, individuals looking to develop their relationship with Christ, individuals looking to develop a great prayer life and so forth. I believe that’s where my ministry is leading.”
But he said he is willing and eager to serve in any way he’s asked at St. Benedict.
Deacon Foucault said he’s in a somewhat unusual situation with the parish. St. Benedict in recent years has had the service of three permanent deacons. In addition to himself, the parish also has three other men in formation as deacon candidates.