(Six new permanent deacons are scheduled to be ordained Aug. 8 at St. Joseph Cathedral. This is the second of series on each of the deacon candidates.) 

By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator 

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Chris Landry

 

Chris Landry first recognized the yearning in his heart for the religious life while attending Ascension Catholic Diocesan Regional High School in Donaldsonville. 

At the time he thought that yearning might be a calling to the priesthood. 

After discernment and attending a five-day retreat, Landry realized God “was not calling me” to be ordained. 

But the longing in his heart to serve God never wavered, and on Aug. 8, he will be one of six men scheduled to be ordained permanent deacons by Bishop Michael G. Duca at St. Joseph Cathedral.  

“I’ve already started praying that I will be able to keep it together (during the ordination Mass),” said Landry, who added he was “bitterly disappointed’ when the original June 20 ordination date was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“I just want to be ordained, to be indelibly marked for the Lord,” he said.  

After realizing the call to priesthood was not for him, Landry went on to marry his high school sweetheart, raise three sons and is now the sole owner of a thriving food manufacturing company. But with the desire to serve the Lord never silenced in 2001 he enrolled in the former Religious Studies Institute with the goal of becoming a deacon.  

However, with three young boys and the pressing needs of his job as one of Chef John Folse’s executives at the time, “the advice was overarching to postpone this for a little while.”  

In 2015, with two sons living away from home and the other graduating from high school, Landry became part of the first class of the revamped diaconate program, which involves attending classes at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University.  

He admitted the challenge was daunting, especially after being so long removed from a classroom.  

“That’s a different scenario to have to get back to writing papers, studying and being diligent about it,” he joked. “That was a bit of a shock for all of us to start.  

“It was more like graduate school than undergrad but I’m thankful for it.”  

Because of the commitment of his professors, who Landry called “great Catholic men,” he said he is as well-formed in Catholic doctrine as he ever thought he could be.  

“That’s what I wanted, wanted that education my whole life,” he said. “They got some good information through this thick skull.”  

Landry said the long nights studying, the twice-weekly three-hour classes and commuting to Baton Rouge from his Gonzales home will all be forgotten when he kneels before Bishop Duca to be ordained.  

“It’s the most committed thing I could do,” he said. “Once I felt called to be a priest and then correctly figured that is not what God had planned for me.  

“God had this plan for me, and he put something in me that drew me toward it. I can’t think of any other way to serve my Lord or any better and to serve my fellow Catholic Christians. That is the draw; to do his work. ”  

Landry said he believes the nationwide growth of the diaconate is part of God’s bigger plan to help mitigate the shortage of priests. He said deacons can assume some administrative duties so priests can focus more on their pastoral roles.  Landry has spent more than a quarter of century in administration, first with the Folse company and then owning his own company. In additional to assisting in other liturgical functions, he believes his business background will be an asset in helping manage a church parish that could free up the pastor to perform other ministerial duties.  

Evangelization is Landry’s passion, his main focus is men’s ministry. Several years ago he started a men’s group at the cluster parishes St. Elizabeth Church in Paincourtivlle and St. Jules Church in Belle Rose at the encouragement of then pastor Father Andrew Merrick. 

Landry credited the Holy Spirit in growing the “King’s Men” ministry from three to four men to a rather large group, one that eventually spilled over into nearby St. Joseph Church in Pierre Part.  

“I have a special love for working with men,” Landry said. “I am definitely drawn to helping bring men closer to God because I think it’s sorely lacking in our diocese, and across the United States and the world.”  

As ordination day approaches, Landry admitted his emotions have already kicked into overdrive. He was candid when he said he might not be able to stop from weeping with joy when he is ordained.  

He admitted even now he tears up a “little bit” when he thinks about the fact he will be ordained by Bishop Duca, whom Landry says is “in the direct line of Jesus.”  

“I know the Holy Spirit will give me the strength to get through it and not sob and ruin it for everybody,” he said. “The actual ordination is what I want to happen.”