Long hours of study will end in Ordination ceremony

HARTINGTON —  Dr. Roger Filips, a Hartington resident, has followed a call from God to minister to others, and will soon be ordained as a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church.
Filips has spent the last four years preparing for this point in his life, although he had started being pulled in that direction ten years ago.
“It just got a hold of me about ten years ago. I kept putting it off but it wouldn’t go away. I felt like it was the right thing to do. I am glad I did it,” he said. “I feel contentment and peace with my decision.”
The ordination will take place at Saint Cecilia Cathedral, Omaha, April 29, at 10 am. The first Mass with a homily by Filips will be the next weekend May 6-7, for all three Masses at Holy Trinity Church, Hartington.
Filips applied to become a permanent deacon five years ago and was accepted into the program. One year of discernment was followed by three years of classes and formation at the Immaculata Monastery and Spirituality Center, Norfolk, the center of this dioceses.
“There was a total of four years. It was very involved,” Filips said. “Twenty-one men will be ordained out of the class. Half of the class will be ordained on April 29 and the other half the following week.”
As a permanent deacon, Filips will assist at Mass. He also has plans to preach a homily about once a month.
Deacons can be a minister of baptisms and vigil services and can perform funerals and weddings that are not part of a Mass.
He will continue teaching seventh and eighth grade CCD, which he has been doing for the last ten years.
“This is a fun age to be able to work with kids. They are old enough to understand more advanced concepts,” he said.
Filips will also be helping with adult education classes.
Adult education is one of the main ministries with which Filips would like to be involved.
“There is so much that can be done. A lot of people do not have any further education in their faith after confirmation,” he said. “There is so much more that we can learn and understand. Learning more about God and growing in faith should not stop after confirmation class.”
Filips referred to a scripture found in the Gospel of Mark 9:24, “I do believe – help my unbelief.”
People need to grow in their faith, according to Filips.
“Faith is a life-long journey. Everyone is on a journey – we are in different places but we all need to make forward progress,” he said. “I had people help me. Now I want to help others in their journey of faith.”
A married deacon is not always alone in his ministry to others, as his wife can be an essential part.
Filips and his wife, Ann, have both been working with couples in pre-marriage classes and plan to continue with the ministry.
They administer the FOCCUS Pre-marriage Inventory, a tool used to help a couple prepare for marriage.
“We talk about areas of possible disagreements and potential problems,” Filips said. “The tool was developed by the Archdiocese of Omaha and is used worldwide.”
Filips has a special interest for working as an annulment sponsor in the church. Many times Catholics will leave the church after they go through a divorce, according to Filips.
“They re-marry outside the church. The don’t even attempt to annul the marriage they were in and stay in the Catholic Church. Many of them could have had their marriage annulled,” Filips said. “I want to help people get through this.”
Other ministries deacons can be involved in include praying with those who are sick, visiting hospitals and ministering to prisoners who are in jail.
“We each need to look at the needs others have and decide where our talents lie,” Filips said.
Filips wife, Ann, and his father, Ed Filips, have prepared an exceptional gift for his ordination.
Lace from Filips mother’s wedding dress and a piece of fabric from Ann’s wedding dress were shaped into the form of a cross and sewed inside of the stole Filips will be wearing as a deacon.
“When I am ministering to others – my wife and my mother – will always be close to my heart,” Filips said.
Filips was baptized and raised in the Catholic Church.
Having Filips be ordained as a permanent deacon holds special meaning for his father.
“My Dad told me he had always thought I was destined for something in the ministry of the church,” Filips said. “When I was baptized and they poured cold water over me – I didn’t even flinch or cry. My Dad took that as a sign that I would do something in the church.”