‘He wanted more from me’
Timothy Coughlin felt his vocation call from a young age. Back in high school the thought of serving in ordained ministry crossed his mind, but his girlfriend, whom he would marry shortly after graduating from high school, helped him realize his call was to married life. His 11 children remind him of that.
“That’s the vocation God is calling me to. Then we had a big family, and that’s my vocation,” he said. “I was right, that is my vocation, but He wanted more from me.”
The feelings of serving the Church came back about 10 years ago. Both he and his wife, Colleen, knew he would not have the time for study and service just to make it to ordination. But after attending a Life in the Spirit seminar, Colleen had a spiritual encounter.
“After the retreat, she came up to me and said, ‘If you’re still serious about wanting to be a deacon, I’m not going to stand in your way. I want to support you in it,’” Deacon Coughlin said.
There were just a few hurdles to jump. First, it is recommended that candidates apply before their 55th birthday. That gave him just a month and a half to fill out the application and get his proof of sacrament forms together. It usually takes six months. Deacon Coughlin got his together in two weeks.
“That question of, is this where God wants me to be, was answered,” he said. “There have been a lot of distractions in our diocese. It fortified our calling instead of having the opposite effect. If you weren’t sure between the seminary closing and the turbulence of the priest scandal and on top of that the bankruptcy and Covid. That’s a lot for anybody to handle. That’s all occurred since I started this journey. To be honest, it has only fortified everything. I guess we all had to decide if this is where God truly wanted us to be.”
His only goal in ministry is to “humbly serve God. It’s whatever He wants me to do.” He did enjoy his field study in the office of Pro-Life Activities, a cause he is passionate about. You’d expect that from someone with 11 children.
“I think that’s something my parents planted the seed years ago in all of us, but it’s germinated and come to fruition through my own marriage and my children,” he explained. “If I can help other women and men realize that gift that God’s giving them, that’s very satisfying for me.”
On his ordination day of May 22, Deacon Coughlin learned that he would serve at his home parish of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Orchard Park, and return to the Office of Pastoral Ministries – Pro-Life Activities for his ministry of charity.