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Deacon Haley: ‘With the diaconate, I can represent Christ’

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Is it Doctor Deacon or Deacon Doctor? Timothy Haley is trying to figure out how he will be addressed now that he has been ordained a permanent deacon. The colorectal surgeon points to his medical experience as leading him to a more spiritual life.

Deacon Timothy Haley makes his promise of obedience to Bishop Michael W. Fisher on his ordination to the permanent diaconate on May 21. (Photo by Nicole Dzimira)

“I always had faith when I was a kid because I was from an Irish Catholic family,” he said. “The Easter vigil Mass at the cathedral was just an amazing event for me back in 1973.” That particular Mass might stand out because he got his picture on the cover of the Courier-Express.

He grew up in Buffalo as one of eight kids. He attended Nardin Academy and Canisius High School, before heading off to St. Lawrence University in Canton, and then University at Buffalo Medical School. He later earned an MBA from George Washington University in Washington, DC.

While in college, he found he relied on his faith only during bad times. During the good times, he tended to look away from God. But, while in medical school, learning of the complexities of the human being, he realized a divine power must be at work.

“I think that I really went back to my faith significantly when I was learning about the physiology of humans in medical school,” Deacon Haley recalled. “I’ll never forget studying genetics and just seeing the beauty of genetics and how perfect it was and realizing that there’s no way there isn’t a higher being that designed this. That was a huge step forward in my faith.” That realization led him to became more active in his church.

His next spiritual milestone happened in the operating room. Just before surgery, a patient asked to pray with him. He passed.

“I really regretted that. How can I not include God before I’m going to operate on somebody?” he ponders today. “With that in mind, I decided I needed to include spirituality in my life more and in my practice and be able to pass it on to other people. At the same time, I felt really blessed by God and wanted to give back.”

Now he looks at every person he meets as the face of Christ. “With the diaconate, I can represent Christ as well,” he added.

Currently, a medical director at Independent Health, Deacon Haley, looks forward to serving at St. Vincent de Paul Society. “I do really enjoy working in the humblest form that I possibly can. So, doing service to the people with the most need is really where I feel the most comfortable. I like to get into the trenches and get dirty,” he said.

His parish assignment is with North Buffalo family of parishes, where he will be the first permanent deacon to minister to that area. Deacon Haley will be serving in the area where he grew up. He and his wife Melissa, along with their daughters Mary and Elizabeth, attend St. Mark Parish.  

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