Congratulations to Deacon Richard Podgurski

A large and enthusiastic group of parishioners from St. Anthony’s West Vancouver gathered after both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. masses on Dec. 20 to congratulate one of their own — Richard Podgurski — on his recent ordination as one of the new permanent deacons in the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

The actual ordination of the 16 candidates took place Dec. 8 during the feast of the Immaculate Conception at Holy Rosary Cathedral. It marked the first time the Archdiocese of Vancouver has graduated a class in its new permanent diaconate program.

Reflecting on his more than four-years of study Richard commented recently:

“I enjoyed it so much I would recommend it to every man,” he said. “I would encourage even anybody who has a little inclination or small discernment to seriously consider it because, to me, it was an incredibly joyful journey. I’ve learned so much that has helped me deepen my faith.”

He adds: “Now, as a deacon, I have much more confidence about God and my faith. So, it’s been just a beautiful spiritual journey. I don’t think there are enough words to describe it.”

St. Anthony’s West Van’s first graduate in the new program (Tony Gray is currently working to follow in his footsteps) explains the idea of serving the church in some capacity has been with him for a long time.

“It actually started in my high school years,” notes Richard. “I was growing [in spirituality]. But perhaps I was slow in reacting to God’s call. I considered going to a seminary. In fact, I did, for a while in Orchard Lake, Michigan. But it was just a few months after I arrived in Canada. I was just 17 at the time. It was a bit overwhelming.”

The 65-year-old native of Worochta, Poland, close to Lvov — which is now part of the Ukraine — observes that the Archdiocese program which has been newly created makes for an interesting and ultimately very fulfilling experience.

“There were surprises that were ongoing,” he notes. “Being the first program we were all learning everything. It was all brand new. We didn’t know what courses we would be taking any more than a month in advance. There was nothing you could plan on.”

Richard, who arrived in Vancouver in 1970, has enjoyed a long and varied work background in retailing high-end men’s and women’s fashions, in the import/export business, as a financial advisor, as a home builder and land developer and, currently, as a mortgage broker and realtor. He believes one of the biggest bonuses of the diaconate program are the bonds that have been forged among the successful candidates of the first graduating class.

“We became a really tight group,” he marvels. “There was  great fellowship and  brotherhood that I had never experienced before. Of course, I have many friends. But this went beyond that.”

Richard’s parish priest at St. Anthony’s, Father Gary Franken, travelled alongside Richard throughout the process as his spiritual director.

“It was a great privilege seeing someone hear the call of God and then [watching him] face the challenges that were part of the formation,” comments Father Gary.  “Now, to be able to see the excitement of Richard’s ordination and the great willingness to take on what the Bishop asks is very rewarding to me.”

By:  Lyndon Little
(Member, St. Anthony’s Communications Committee)