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(Editor’s note: At 10 a.m. on May 18, three men are scheduled to be ordained priests at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis: Transitional deacons Doug Marcotte, Martin Rodriguez and John Francis Kamwendo. This week, The Criterion features a profile of Deacon Marcotte. Our next two issues will feature Deacon Rodriguez and Deacon Kamwendo.)
As a diehard fan of Indiana University basketball, transitional Deacon Doug Marcotte knows the importance of not backing down from taking a shot—in sports and in life.
As a huge fan of Notre Dame football and the movie Rudy, Deacon Marcotte also understands the necessities of working hard to achieve a dream and having the support of people who care about you.
All those qualities have come together in Deacon Marcotte’s journey to his ordination as a priest on May 18 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. It’s a journey that started when he encountered an unexpected “double team” while he was a student at IU’s Bloomington campus.
“It took several years for me to come around to the idea of giving seminary a shot,” recalls Deacon Marcotte, 28, a member of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. “My former pastor, [Benedictine] Father Severin Messick, once mentioned offhand in a homily how sad it was that there were probably many men and women who missed a religious calling simply because they never asked God what his plan was for them.
“I prayed at Mass that day that if God wanted me to be a priest that was fine, but I thought it would be fair that other people would see that in me as well. I firmly believed that no one would think I had those gifts.
“That evening, my friend’s mom, who was taking us back to IU, asked me if I had ever thought about being a priest. God certainly got my attention that night. And every time someone asked me if I had considered being a priest, I felt that God was giving me another nudge.”
Those nudges have led Deacon Marcotte to a full embrace of God, life as a priest and service to the archdiocese.
“I love the archdiocese,” he says. “I truly wish to serve the people of God here.”
Deacon Marcotte’s favorite band is the Zac Brown Band, a country music group that has a song called “Chicken Fried” as one of its major hits. The tune is an infectious ode to the small pleasures and lasting relationships in life, including fried chicken, the sunrise, “the radio up,” sweet tea, “the stars and stripes” and a mother’s love. The song also includes the lyric, “I thank God for my life.”
Deacon Marcotte knows that feeling.
The favorite parts of his life—besides IU basketball, Notre Dame football and his relationship with God—include spending time with his family, reading about history and politics, and watching open wheel racing and stock car racing.
There’s also his favorite quote: “Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire” (Ps 37:4).
“I like that Bible verse because I think it sums up the Christian life very nicely,” Deacon Marcotte says. “We are all created for eternal happiness and joy with God forever in heaven, and to be as happy as we can be in this life.
“However, we have a choice to accept what God freely offers—eternal happiness—or to try and find our delight in other worldly things which the devil tries to tempt us with.”
One of the favorite times in Deacon Marcotte’s life was being in Rome and rushing to St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on March 13 when Pope Francis was introduced as the new spiritual leader of the Church.
Recalling how he stood among 200,000 people, Deacon Marcotte described that moment as “easily the most exciting night of my life, a time of great joy and a time to celebrate with the whole Church.”
The time since then has shown him one of his favorite qualities about the new pope.
“I have been impressed with Pope Francis’ focus on Jesus’ message of mercy,” says Deacon Marcotte, who has spent the past four years studying in Rome at the Pontifical North American College. “I believe there are many who do not know this message, and perhaps many more who have heard it but find it difficult to believe because of our own fallen nature.”
Deacon Marcotte will bring his own collection of gifts to the priesthood, say family members, including his younger brother and only sibling, transitional Deacon Dave Marcotte, who is scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood in the spring of 2014.
“Doug is a very intelligent man, one who has a great understanding of the Church and the world we live in,” his brother says. “At the same time, he is very articulate. I believe that Doug will be able to do a great job through homilies, lectures and retreats of teaching the faith.
“Doug is also a people person. He really loves working with people and getting involved with the community that he is in. Ultimately, he is a man of prayer, and this serves as the foundation for all of his other great qualities. That is the sort of thing every parish needs.”
As their only two children prepare for the priesthood, Bill and Irene Marcotte recall how they thought their older son was destined for a different life.
“It seems like a miracle that he’s going to be a priest,” his mother says. “It’s something we never thought that much about. We talked about the priesthood with our sons when we talked about vocations, but we always thought Doug would be a politician. He’s a very good speaker. He’s very good about relating with people. And he has a passion for wanting life to be good for everybody.”
Those qualities are also great for a priest, she says. And she and her husband are thrilled as his ordination nears.
“It’s very gratifying,” his father says. “Doug has always been fascinated with how he could change the world, or a small part of it. This is going to give him a chance to change the world. It may be in a small way, but it will be in a positive way. He’s gone through all of this training, and now he’ll be able to act on it. We’re really thrilled for him. He’s really been looking forward to it.”
So have the members of St. Michael Parish in Greenfield. The parish has been in existence for 153 years, and Deacon Marcotte is believed to be the first person from the parish to become a priest, his father says.
“We’ve had a lot of farmers, and we’ve had baseball players that made it to the major leagues, but he’ll be the first priest from the parish,” his father says. “We used to joke with him about becoming the mayor of Greenfield someday. It’s a higher calling, what he’s doing.”
Thoughts of his home parish lead Deacon Marcotte to remember the person who most influenced his decision to become a priest.
“Father Messick’s witness of a life of joy as a priest probably did more for my vocation than any other single thing,” he says about his former pastor at St. Michael Parish who died in 2011. “His love of God and the Church was infectious, and it drew me in. When I thought God might be calling me to the priesthood, I gave it serious thought because I saw that it was a vocation that brought him much joy.”
Deacon Marcotte has a similar hope for his priesthood.
“I hope that I will be a good and holy priest, and that I will serve God and his people for many years,” he says. “I also hope that when it is all said and done, people will be able to say I practiced what I preached.”
A sense of gratitude has also marked his thoughts as his ordination nears.
“I have been thinking a lot about the journey that brought me to the place that I am. I am so very thankful for all of the wonderful people God has placed in my life as well as for all the prayers I have received, many from people I have never even met.
“I am also in awe of God’s goodness to me. It is amazing what saying ‘yes’ to God has meant for my life.” †