When Deacon Stan Upah at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Tama, Iowa, was ordained to the permanent diaconate in 2017, his son Andy was a transitional deacon studying for the priesthood.
“We wound up being both deacons at my ordination Mass,” Deacon Stan said. “He was deacon of the word; I was deacon of the cup. Nobody on this earth can make this happen. You couldn’t orchestrate that, even in the application process.”
A year later, in 2018, Deacon Stan served as a deacon at both the ordination Mass of Father Andy Upah and his son’s first Mass of thanksgiving in their home parish.
They didn’t plan their parallel journeys. “It was a God incidence, meant to be like that. He didn’t tell me he was thinking about the diaconate,” said Father Upah, who is the pastor of Church of the Nativity in Dubuque, Iowa. He remembers people telling his dad he should be a deacon, so “he was listening to that call, as well.”
“I felt a calling two years before he did,” Deacon Upah said. “My son did not know that I applied. I never told him because I didn’t want my journey to affect his.”
Indeed, a dad who is a permanent deacon and his son who is a priest or permanent or transitional deacon have a special spiritual bond.
In 2017, Kevin Hostutler was ordained a permanent deacon in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, with his wife, Charlotte, their five children and his parents present. Not only that, his father, Deacon Jim Hostutler, served at the Mass. After much research, they appear to be the only dad-son pair of permanent deacons serving the Church in the United States.
Deacon Jim’s ordination took place years earlier, in 1986, when Deacon Kevin was a freshman in high school. At the time, the family was living in Ohio, and dad Hostutler was ordained for the Diocese of Toledo. After decades of serving there and also the Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, he transferred to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he currently serves at St. Patrick Catholic Church. Deacon Kevin serves at St. Louis Catholic Church in Clarksville, Maryland.
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