Jim Haselsteiner, Deacon Candidate

This is the next in a series I will be posting on the candidates for the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Knoxville. My hope is that these brief introductions to the men preparing for ordination to the diaconate will help introduce them to the people of the diocese.

Today, we hear from Jim Haselsteiner from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Johnson City.

Tell me about your family. My wife, Cheryl, and I have been married for almost 39 years. Cheryl and I met while in college. At the time, she was going through the RCIA program at the Catholic Newman Center. Two and a half years later we were married at St. Ambrose Catholic Church in Milan, Illinois. We have a son, Adam, who is 32. Adam and his wife, Liz, have been married for three years and our grandson, Dexter, is 21 months old.

Are you originally from East Tennessee? What brought you to this area? I’m originally from Chicago, IL, where I attended Catholic school for all 12 years of schooling. After Cheryl and I were married, we lived in Chicago a few years before my company transferred me to another hospital in Waco, Texas. Two years later, Adam was born and then a year later I was transferred back to Chicago. It wasn’t much more than a year after returning back to Chicago that I began searching for a new job. In the spring of 1991 I was offered a position as the Controller in a new start up physical rehabilitation hospital in Johnson City.

What kind of work do you do? I’ve worked as the Chief Financial Officer and now the Chief Administrative Officer for Pharmacy Network Services/Clinical Management Concepts for the past 24 years. These companies provide long-term pharmacy services to nursing homes, assisted living facilities in the region and also operate a local retail/compounding pharmacy.

What brought you to your parish? St. Mary’s had just moved to its current location the year before we arrived. For our first couple of years it was staffed by Dominicans. Diocesan priests have been staffing the parish since 1992 or 1993. Adam attended St. Mary’s school from kindergarten through eighth grade.

In what ways do you/have you served your parish? I’ve served in a variety of ways. I’ve been on the parish council, I’ve been finance committee chair. I served as treasurer and finance officer for the Knights of Columbus Council at the parish, and then as Grand Knight and trustee for the Council. I’ve volunteered with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I’ve worked with the parish Boy Scout troop. I’ve been a Eucharistic Minister for 28 years, including bringing the Eucharist to the home bound. I’ve also served as sacristan and am now head sacristan at the parish.

What drew you to the diaconate? I have always felt close to the Church and have wanted to serve. During Eucharistic adoration at the parish, a deacon tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I had ever thought about being a deacon. I told him I hadn’t, but I did think about it after that. In my Scripture reading, I would come across passages that led me to a desire to serve. I attended the year of discernment hosted by the diocese for men considering the diaconate and it was then that I felt called. Cheryl has been very supportive.

What has been most meaningful or rewarding about the diaconate training program? What’s been most meaningful has been the spiritual growth I’ve experienced during the years of our formation. I’ve also learned so much about the faith. Initially, I was intimidated, but now I would want to experience it all over again even if I wasn’t going to be a deacon. I’ve developed a much greater appreciate for my Catholic faith. Also, the fraternal spirit among the deacon candidates has been wonderful.

Have there been any special challenges during your time in the diaconate training program? The academics have been tough. There’s a lot of learning, reading and writing. During the first years I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with all the work required. I’m more comfortable now and appreciate all I am learning.

What are your hopes as a deacon? I want to be available for the people of the parish to reach out to me as a bridge between them and the parish. I want to work with the people of the parish to help them feel more connected with the Church. I’m also eager to get back to visiting the home bound and others in need.

Please pray for Jim Haselsteiner, his wife Cheryl, and all the deacon candidates on the journey to ordination.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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