Deacon Bill Dobbins
I have a twin sister and we each stopped attending church as soon as we made our confirmation at the age of eleven. We were not a church family. The only time I attended church in the years that followed was for my wedding and the baptism of my children. I moved to Ronkonkoma from Flushing in 1990 and learned that my home parish was St. Joseph. Several years later, in helping my daughter prepare for Confirmation, and after an argumentative and heated discussion with the Director of Religious Education, I realized that I actually knew nothing about my faith. How could I expect my children to have an interest in the faith if I showed no interest? I decided to begin attending mass in1996 and I began to read more and more about the faith. I began to love going to mass because I felt this burning within me that I later learned was the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in me was awakened and there seemed to be no containing it. My appetite for knowledge of God was insatiable. A year later, I went to confession for the first time in 26 years. Although I was extremely frightened, it was such a loving and freeing experience. I could actually feel the arms of God embracing me. I felt like a brand-new person. In the years that followed I continued to learn about my faith and grow in relationship with Jesus. I began to teach religious education here at St. Joseph, which enabled me to learn so much more. I became involved in other ministries such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and became a Eucharistic Minister, and Lector. I even joined the Pastoral Formation Institute (PFI) to learn more about myself and what God might be asking of me. It was through PFI that I discovered gifts within me that I never knew had. PFI was a two-year program that I completed in the spring of 2003. In the fall of 2005, after a couple of years of discernment, I entered Diaconate Formation at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. I was ordained a permanent Deacon in the spring of 2008. Never in my wildest imagination could I have ever believed that I would ever be a Deacon. It was never something that was on my radar, although I am sure it was what God had planned for me since my conception. I am so grateful to the people of St. Joseph Parish, both past and present, for sharing their love and faith in God and inviting me to know Jesus. I am so blessed that my life’s journey brought me to St. Joseph, a place where the Holy Spirit is very much alive.