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‘Put me in coach,’ deacon follows God’s will


Deacon Gregory Gaulin receives the Book of the Gospels from Bishop Michael Fisher, as the bishop ordains him to the permanent diaconate on May 22 at St. Joseph Cathedral. Photo by Dan Cappellazzo

Gregory Gaulin has a unique quote when he talks about answering his call to be a deacon. “I said Yes, but God said No.” It takes some more details to fully understand what led the Williamsville resident to take on the studies and patience of becoming a permanent deacon.

In the early part of 2009, Deacon John Gaulin, suggested to his younger brother that he too might want to become an ordained minister in the Catholic Church. After attending a meeting, Greg decided to apply. During his second year of study, a family matter forced him to leave the program.

“It broke my heart. It was something I dearly loved doing, but that wasn’t the priority at the time,” he said.

He would often get asked if he would consider going back. “My response was, ‘I said Yes, but God said No.’ And that was fine with me. I don’t look at this as something I’m entitled to. This is something that you’re called to,” he said, reflecting back on his faith journey.

In 2018, Deacon Paul Walter, a good friend who started formation after Gaulin, told him to consider going back into formation. Greg’s wife also suggested he go back.

“I called the seminary to talk to (Deacon Timothy Chriswell, director of the permanent diaconate) and got an answering machine. I just hung up. I’m not going to leave a message,” he said, seeing this as another sign from God that this was not his time.

The two finally connected, but his age and the fact that he spent a couple hours on the road each day driving to and from Rochester where he teaches mechanics seemed to count against him.

“If you tell me this isn’t going to work, I’m fine with that,” he said.

The diocese wanted him back and in 2018, Gaulin was back studying at Christ the King Seminary.

He’s philosophical about his call to the diaconate, feeling that it’s not ambition or desire that makes it possible, but a genuine call from God.

“It’s not trying to put together a football team or trying to progress at a job. I view this as a calling. That’s where the discernment process comes in, because you have to be able to discern whether or not God is really calling you to this ministry,” he said. “The beautiful things about it was, everything about formation is really about discernment, it’s really about trying to do God’s will in your life and not try to force it. If it was a case where God said, ‘No,’ I would have been OK with that. So, where do I go? What do you want me to do? Put me in the game coach. I’ll play any position.”

After thinking a bit more, he clarifies his goal for his ministry. 

“My goal is to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said. “Recognizing that people are composite beings made up of mind and body and spirit. So often, that spirit side is ignored. That’s the thing that I think can be most uplifting and most necessary for people is to have that spiritual connection to God. If there’s something that I can do that helps fill that gap that a lot of people have, that would be something I’d be very happy with.”

Deacon Gaulin will serve at St. Gregory the Great Parish, Williamsville, and Via Fidei and the Renewal.

Deacon Gaulin and his wife, Christine, have three daughters – Nicole, Heather, Danielle – with one grandchild and another on the way.


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