DEACON ERICKSON'S ORDINATION (NATE WHITCHURCH PHOTO)
DEACON ERICKSON'S ORDINATION (NATE WHITCHURCH PHOTO)

Deacon Douglas Erickson is starting down a new life path. On May 19, he was ordained a permanent deacon for the Albany Diocese.

“It was a humbling moment,” he said of the ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany. “I was very happy to be part of the ordination, but humbled that God chose me for this call.”

Deacon Erickson was ordained alongside fellow permanent Deacon Al Censullo (read a previous story on Deacon Censullo at www.evangelist.org) and Deacons Kyle Eads and Samuel Bellafiore, who were ordained transitional deacons on their path to priesthood.

The new deacon said he’s “not someone who likes to be in the spotlight. I like being the supportive person behind the scenes.” But he is happy to fulfill his call to the diaconate.

“I had to discern if this is the right choice for me,” he told The Evangelist. “It turned out to be the right choice.”

Deacon Erickson was raised a Protestant in Madison County, west of the Albany Diocese. His family moved around a lot because of his father’s job.

While that was hard at times, he said it helped him develop good communication skills and get “involved in new activities.”

Deacon Erickson earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from The University at Albany. As a religious man who studied in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) field, he found that the two areas overlapped.

“Nature is one of my favorite ways to get close to God,” he noted.

During his time at SUNY, he met his wife, Joan. The two married shortly after graduation; Deacon Erickson went on to earn a master’s degree in healthcare administration from Union College in Schenectady.

While studying for his master’s, Deacon Erickson was able to land a job as a resident hall director (RHD) at Union, which helped him to afford his classes. Being an RHD required him to live in an apartment in the undergraduate dorm he oversaw.

For three years, he and his wife lived in the Union College dorms. When their daughter was born, she spent her first year living in the dorms.

Later, the Ericksons moved to Latham, then to Glenmont. Deacon Erickson currently works as capital asset manager for the VA New York/New Jersey Healthcare Network.

Over the years, Deacon Erickson said he began to struggle with his lack of knowledge of Catholicism. Mrs. Erickson, a Catholic, is a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Delmar and the couple had agreed to raise their children Catholic. But Deacon Erickson wished he had a better grasp of the faith his children were learning about in their faith formation classes.

“I didn’t fully understand the Catholic faith, [and] I felt a responsibility to do my role as a parent” and learn about it, he explained.

In 1996, Deacon Erickson completed the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program for people joining the Catholic Church. He was confirmed in the spring of 1997. But even then, he said, he realized that “RCIA just scratched the surface of the faith.” He calls himself “a lifelong learner.”

Deacon Erickson taught faith formation to elementary and high school students and became a eucharistic minister at St. Thomas the Apostle parish. “I was really feeling like I was getting a handle on the Catholic faith, but I was feeling the call to be involved more,” he explained.

In 2012, he began studies with the Kateri Institute for Lay Ministry Formation program. In 2014, he was accepted to study for the diaconate for the Diocese.

“Spring 2018 seemed a long ways into the future then,” Deacon Erickson recalled.

But he isn’t done yet. Deacon Erickson is currently working toward a master’s degree in pastoral studies through St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry in Albany, learning information he calls “very helpful” to his vocation. He encourages those in ministry to take graduate-level courses.

The new deacon is also excited to start his ministry at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Albany, where he’s been assigned: “I’m looking forward to getting to know the parishioners there.”