Douglas Robertson is being ordained a permanent deacon at St Michael's Church in Linlithgow on Saturday. We spoke to him about his journey to the diaconate.
What parish do you attend?
St Michael’s in Linlithgow. I have been a parishioner here for over 30 years.
What is a deacon, and what do they do?
Deacons (the word comes from the Greek word diakonia, meaning 'service') are ordained clergy who are not priests, but assist the priest at Mass by proclaiming the Gospel, reading the Intercessions, distributing Communion and dismissing the Faithful. A deacon assists the priest outside of Mass by administering the Sacrament of Baptism, bringing Viaticum to the dying, presiding for prayer services, officiating at funerals and burial services and witnessing marriages. As ministers of service, deacons perform charitable works such as visiting the sick, sacramental preparation and outreach to the poor.
Wherever I have been I have appreciated the many people who have taken the time to quietly encourage me.
What was your day job?
I worked in IT for forty years, in a number of different jobs and for several companies, starting with Rolls-Royce in Glasgow and ending with Lloyds Bank in Edinburgh.
Why did you decide to apply for the diaconate?
Looking back I feel that my whole life was leading up to this point. My faith journey took me from being a child attending Church of Scotland Sunday school, and not wanting to be there, to a teenager who went to Scripture Union camps, and found a living faith but could not sustain it.
In this Vocations Awareness Week, please keep in your prayers Michael Robertson who is being ordained a permanent deacon at St Michael's Church in Linlithgow on Saturday.
— Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh (@archedinburgh) September 14, 2023
Despite this, my faith was always there and in my early thirties, I wanted to integrate it fully into my life and joined the Catholic Church. This was the start of a wonderful and exciting journey. My faith continued to develop and I found myself saying “God, whatever you want me to do, I will do”. During a conversation with my Parish Priest Canon Paul Kelly he challenged me to go much further than my own limited plans for the future and look at the Permanent Diaconate. The words in Malcolm Muggeridge’s book about Mother Teresa inspired me – “as the whole story of Christendom shows, if everything is asked for, everything – and more – will be accorded; if little, then nothing”. So I applied!
What support have you been given?
I am so grateful to my wife Margaret, whose own faith and that of her family is so important to me. Her Uncle Monsignor McShane, latterly of St Margaret’s in Clydebank, was a bedrock of the Catholic faith in our lives. Margaret has read my essays, tolerated the hours of study and said the right things when I found the formation challenging. I have had huge support both from this parish with its live faith and committed parishioners and that of my parish placement at St Francis Xavier, Falkirk, where I was provided with an insight into the life of a Deacon in a large parish. Wherever I have been I have appreciated the many people who have taken the time to quietly encourage me.
What are you most looking forward to in your ministry?
Serving my parish!
What advice would you give to married men who are considering the diaconate?
Contact your vocation director, an exciting journey is in front of you.
Douglas Robertson will be ordained a permanent deacon at midday on Saturday 14 September at St Michael's in Linlithgow. Interested in the Permanent Diaconate? Contact Deacon Ronnie Macaulay at firstname.lastname@example.org