May 3, 2024

Love for Christ calls father and son to ordained ministry in the archdiocese

Newly ordained transitional Deacon Liam Hosty beams with joy while exchanging a sign of peace with his father, Deacon Tom Hosty, an archdiocesan permanent deacon, on April 27 during the Mass at St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis in which Deacon Liam was ordained. Deacon Liam and Deacon Tom are the first father and son to be deacons in the history of the archdiocese. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Newly ordained transitional Deacon Liam Hosty beams with joy while exchanging a sign of peace with his father, Deacon Tom Hosty, an archdiocesan permanent deacon, on April 27 during the Mass at St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis in which Deacon Liam was ordained. Deacon Liam and Deacon Tom are the first father and son to be deacons in the history of the archdiocese. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

When they spoke with The Criterion in late March, Deacon Tom Hosty and his son Liam were on the verge of making history, becoming the first father and son to both be deacons at the same time in the 190-year history of the Church in central and southern Indiana.

Deacon Tom, 60, was ordained a permanent deacon for the archdiocese in 2022, and his son Liam, 26, was a month away from being ordained a transitional deacon as an archdiocesan seminarian on April 27 at St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis, with his ordination to the priesthood expected to happen in June of 2025. (Related: See a photo gallery from the Mass | See a brief video)

But neither of them had given much thought to the history they were making. Their hearts and minds were focused instead on matters that were more important to them—their relationship as father and son and their shared desire to serve Christ and the Church.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Deacon Hosty, director of the archdiocesan Department of Pastoral Ministries. “It’s all in God’s control. There must be a reason that he’s calling the two of us to holy orders. … It’s just complete providence.”

“My dad is always going to be my dad,” said Liam. “But it’s neat to almost see him as a peer and a brother in a certain way, a brother in Christ, a co-worker in the vineyard.” (Related story: Joy of the Gospel flows forth from father, son in ordination Mass)

A household imbued with faith

The paths that father and son have taken to their call to ordained ministry can be traced back to 1999, when the family moved from Kansas City, Kan., to Indianapolis, where Deacon Tom was transferred in his work as an attorney at the headquarters of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in its enforcement division.

The family soon became members of St. Barnabas Parish on Indianapolis’ southside. Liam was a toddler at the time, Deacon Tom and his wife Julie’s fourth child. A fifth would be born later.

Looking back 25 years later, Julie sees the hand of God guiding her family to St. Barnabas.

“It was divine providence,” she said. “We were provided with so many opportunities and surrounded by really amazing faith-filled people that just inspired us. They were our role models. We wanted to do better. We were very blessed.”

Deacon Tom experienced a turning point in his life of faith in 2003 when he participated in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at St. Barnabas.

“That’s really when I had for the first time a personal relationship with Christ,” he recalled. “That’s when I drew close to Christ and began diving into Scripture a lot.”

His blossoming faith made an impression on his young son.

“It was really evident when I was a kid that Jesus was a real person because my dad had a relationship with him,” Liam said. “There’s no on and off switch for my dad. Whenever he rests, he’s resting with the Lord. Whenever he’s working, he’s working with the Lord. I saw that.”

Deacon Tom and Julie sought to share their faith not only with their five children, but also with other young people at St. Barnabas. As their own children prepared for the sacrament of confirmation, the parents hosted monthly meetings of small groups of the parish’s teenagers at their home to lead them in their sacramental formation.

“While we were helping to form the faith of all these young people, we were learning as well,” Deacon Tom said. “We were going more in depth.”

Since Liam was the fourth of the Hosty’s five children, he regularly saw in these meetings in his own home how important the faith was to his parents.

“Our household was imbued with the sense that our faith was not something we do just on Sunday,” he said. “It’s part of our identity. We’re Catholic Christians.”

‘A very personal call’—for two men

Liam began to make that identity his own when he became a student at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis in 2012.

At home, he would talk with his dad about what he was learning in his theology classes and how much he was interested in them.

“He had a deep understanding of Catholic theology,” Deacon Tom recalled. “I would have to go and explore it myself. How did he know all this? He was smarter than I was in those things. It was cool to see as a dad.”

As Liam’s time at Roncalli progressed, so did his thoughts about God possibly calling him to be a priest.

“He was pretty open about it,” Deacon Tom said. “Even in high school, he was really being serious about his own discernment.”

But he and Julie weren’t sold that becoming a seminarian straight out of high school was what was best for Liam. They changed their minds after meeting with Father Eric Augenstein, then-archdiocesan vocations director, who explained how Liam would receive good human formation at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis.

“That’s what sold me,” Deacon Tom said. “I got it.”

As Liam became a seminarian at Bishop Bruté in the fall of 2016, Deacon Tom was considering his own possible call to the diaconate.

He had been thinking about it privately for a few years. In 2017, he began the application process to be accepted into the archdiocese’s deacon formation program. He was accepted and began his formation in 2018 when Liam was in his second year at Bishop Bruté.

“It was a very personal call,” Deacon Tom said of his discernment. “I did not want to influence him. And I didn’t want his vocation to influence mine. I needed to understand what God was calling me to do.”

For his part, Liam is grateful for his parents always being in his corner, yet also giving him the space he needed for his consideration of his vocation.

“They have an unconditional love and support for me,” he said. “It has been constant through my childhood and during my discernment.”

Julie has been a constant with Deacon Tom and Liam in their respective discernments. While her husband admires the deep faith he has seen in her throughout their 35 years of marriage, Julie was quick to say with a laugh that her husband and son were called to ordained ministry “in spite of me, in spite of my failings.”

“They’re very inspiring to me,” she said. “I do feel that, because of them, my faith is stronger. They’re both just pretty amazing—in their faith and the way they serve others. The servant heart that both of them have is very inspiring to me.”

‘The steward of your child’s soul’

The bond of Deacon Tom and Liam deepened in the four years from 2018-22 when both were in formation for ordained ministry. That bond has only strengthened since Deacon Tom’s ordination in 2022.

In talking about how they share their experiences of formation, Deacon Tom said, “We compare notes,” and then Liam immediately with a smile said with him, “all the time.”

They’ll talk with each other about theology classes, preaching and liturgy.

Their common experience of formation gives them a bond that brings them together in ways they can’t share with others who haven’t gone down the same path.

“I could say something to Liam, and he would instantly understand what I was talking about,” said Deacon Tom. “But if I was talking to one of my brothers or sisters, it would take me a while to give them the full context. … It was like we were peers.”

“We were trying to keep our individual calls separate,” Liam added. “But in formation, we supported each other and talked with each other all during it.”

It went beyond just talking to praying together, along with Julie. In their times together at home, they prayed together the Liturgy of the Hours, something that all who are ordained promise at their ordination to do for the rest of their lives.

“That was pretty cool,” Liam recalled. “I had been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for a while. To have my parents do it too was a joyful moment.”

As Liam has approached his own ordination as a transitional deacon, their sharing has intensified.

“I texted him after I did my first practice baptism,” said Liam of his preparation to baptize people, which he’ll be able to do as a deacon.

“I got goosebumps,” Liam recalled. “It was just practice, but knowing that I would be doing this for the rest of my life gave me chills.”

Deacon Tom knew what his son was experiencing.

“It’s powerful,” he said. “I write down in a book the name of every child I baptize. I have an eternal connection with them. It’s almost mind-boggling to think about it.”

He’s astonished, too, when he thinks back on the baptism of his own children and the long path of faith that God has led him, Julie and them on since then.

“After my own ordination, now that I can baptize babies, I have a much deeper understanding of what’s happening,” Deacon Tom said. “I did not appreciate that as a young father. Now I really understand that the soul of your child is hanging in the balance.

“ … You sort of become the steward of your child’s soul in some respects. Julie and I both felt that with all five of our children. All five are different and are on their own spiritual journey.”

A month before Liam’s ordination as a deacon, something he experienced himself two years ago, Deacon Tom was struck by the profound nature of their deepening bond, but always aware that, before being a deacon with him, he’s first dad to him and his other children.

“You get emotional thinking about it,” he said. “Life is beautiful. Now I’m getting to see where my son is going. It was a grace-filled moment for me at my own ordination. … It’s been amazing not only to watch Liam on his journey, but all five of our kids on their own journey.”

(For more information on the vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit For more information on the vocation to the permanent diaconate in the archdiocese, email Deacon Kerry Blandford, archdiocesan director of deacon formation, at

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