James Eidem is one of three men to be ordained to the permanent diaconate July 8 at St. Joseph’s Basilica. Currently there are 32 deacons in the Archdiocese. James will be assigned to his home parish, Sacred Heart in Red Deer. In this interview, James talks about his family, his home life, his faith and his call to the diaconate.
Tell me about yourself.
I was born and raised in Edmonton. I graduated from Concordia University with bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Christian theology. I studied French at McGill University and l’Université Laval. Later, I obtained a bachelor and master’s degree in education from the University of Alberta.
Rhonda and I were married on May 5, 1998. Our first teaching positions were in Grande Prairie. There we entered into the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initation of Adults) program. Married life has been a blessing. Amélie, 21, Coco, 19, two dogs, and a cat complete our loving family.
The years have been eventful, Rhonda and I have taught in northern and central Alberta. Currently, Rhonda is a professor of early learning and child care at Red Deer Polytechnic. Coco is in her first year of a bachelor of arts degree in music, and Amélie is in her third year of a bachelor of arts degree in psychology.
What attracted you to the diaconate and how did you become involved?
Six years ago, Father Joseph Wroblewski encouraged me to explore the Permanent Diaconate formation program with the Archdiocese of Edmonton. It has been a rewarding experience. Rhonda and my daughters have supported and encouraged me throughout the program. I am blessed to have Father Jan Sobkowicz, pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Red Deer, as a friend and mentor. I have the opportunity to serve the parishioners of Sacred Heart and our loving God as a permanent deacon.
What was the highlight of the formation process? What was the toughest part?
A highlight of the formation process is the friendships Rhonda and I have made with Arden Playford, Jackie Playford, Rene Mella, and Lucy Mella. Balancing Newman Theological College courses, retreat weekends, work, and family is the most challenging part.
In your opinion, why should a man consider the permanent diaconate?
I believe that we are each called to serve God and others. I did so as a teacher, my wife continues to do so at Red Deer Polytechnic. I desired to grow in my faith and in my relationship with Christ; to serve the Lord in his Church.
What particular skills do you have that will help you serve the Church?
Fortunately, I was taught by many excellent professors. My courses exposed me to the works of great scholars in theology, the classics, education, leadership, French and English literature. I have been a classroom teacher, an administrator, a husband, and a father of two daughters. Therefore, I have a mix of academic and real-life knowledge.
What do you hope to achieve as a deacon and what will be the biggest challenge?
Each one of us faces many challenges in life. Some struggle much more than others. Yet, to quote St. Francis of Assisi, all the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle. My role as a humble servant of God is to share the light of Christ with others.