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Paul Raynes shares his diaconate vocation journey

Paul Raynes is not only the Director of Operations and Finance for the Diocese of East Anglia but also, since July 29, its newest permanent deacon. Here, he describes the path to his vocation.

You meet plenty of people who have a plan for their lives and careers. I’m one of the people who never did. As a result, I have managed to see and do a huge variety of apparently random things, from washing up in a restaurant, to selling double glazing, to running a Cabinet minister’s office, through journalism, teaching, and working for the local council, to being a husband and father of a family, a charity trustee, and diplomat. And now, ordination.

I suppose I knew at the time that I was just taking what God sent. Because of course, although I didn’t have a plan, I am absolutely certain that He did, and that He has led me to where I am now. A cousin, herself a religious sister, said forty years ago that I was the member of the family most likely to have a vocation; I don’t think she was right by chance.

Looking back, and knowing that the diaconate is, purely and simply, service (that’s what the word means), the fact that so much of what I have done in the past has been service of one kind or another – and for a lot of the time, I was already called a (civil) servant – does make it look like a carefully planned rehearsal for what lies ahead. When I told my wife I was exploring becoming a deacon, her instant response was, “I thought you would do that.” She and God both knew something I didn’t.

During my time in formation, I spent a while studying and worshipping at St John’s, Wonersh. Over the altar, there is a large Latin inscription that says, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you.” That just about sums it up.

This is probably a good foundation for a deacon. It’s a ministry that can take many forms, and most deacons get used to being asked to do the unexpected. I am sure God will have some more surprises in store for me.

If anyone were to ask me for vocations advice, I could only build on my own experience and say that God is inevitably in the driving seat: so trust in Him, and embrace the adventure that comes to you.