Nick Le Cornu
Diocese of Portsmouth
I am in the fourth year of the Permanent Diaconate programme at St. Mary’s College, Oscott. I come from the Parish of Jersey which is a part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. The back ground in which I grew up was not a particularly religious one. Until fifteen years ago the only times I would go to a church would be Christmas Eve or weddings, funerals & baptisms. I am unable to say exactly why this changed. At some point in 2002 I prayed for the first time. It was just a simple prayer – maybe two sentences. As time went by this time spent with God got longer. So, it was on Christmas Eve of that year I went to church, an Anglican church, as at that time that was the church I had been baptised in and therefore the church I aligned myself with. Over the next year, I read the Holy Bible straight through and Christian television was my choice of entertainment.
As I write this it is the 2nd of April. It was on this night in 2005, the night Pope Saint John Paul II died, that I realised that there could only possibly be one Church. So, it was that for two years I studied the Catholic Church. I read the Catechism and became fascinated by Church History. During this time, I met my wife who was a “Lapsed” Catholic and with her as my sponsor I was welcomed in to the Church in June 2008. I cannot overstate how important it was that after completing the RCIA programme I was asked to become an Altar Server. All too often people complete the RCIA, attend Church for a while and then fall off the radar. Thanks to God and a wise parish Priest this didn’t happen.
From very early on in my journey of faith I was aware of a need, almost like an itch that no amount of scratching could satisfy. It was a need to serve and to talk about God. Becoming a Catholic and then an Altar Server helped to clarify what this need was. It was a calling by God. But to what?
I went on pilgrimage to the Holy land in October 2010. It was during these two weeks that one evening I found myself in a Jerusalem hotel bar with one of the parish Deacons. For some reason we had been told by the police not to leave the hotel, and so I enjoyed an evening of talk about the Church. Near the end of this conversation I was asked in a rather nonchalant way, “Have you ever thought about becoming a Deacon?” The truth is I had, but had always assumed that from an academic perspective I couldn’t possibly put myself forward. Yet after this initial conversation I took two years to ponder, exactly what in my heart I knew I had been called to do, but which I had so many doubts about. Eventually in 2011 I asked my Parish Priest what he thought.
I started the Oscott Permanent Diaconate programme in September 2013. Any concerns I had regarding academic challenges quickly vanished. I discovered that study is easy when one is passionate about the subject. The past four years of formation have been most fulfilling in all sorts of ways. I know I have grown spiritually, but also as a person. My complete outlook in life is different to four years ago. Oscott has been such a positive experience, as have all who I have met from staff, to seminarians to my fellow students.
As I look back now I clearly see the hand of God from that first prayer to today. From meeting my wife to becoming a father. From becoming a Catholic to my formation at Oscott. God has been with me every step of the way.