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March 9, 2023

Deacon Is Guided by the Holy Spirit

As Deacon Davin Winger looks back on his life, it is now obvious that the Holy Spirit has been prompting him for most of his life. Though that is typical of looking back, you can see the path so clearly in hindsight. In the moment, he did not necessarily understand the path ahead. However, he was always willing to say yes when called. Saying yes is how Davin found the Catholic faith, found CDU, became a Deacon, and now teaches and spreads the faith in Amarillo, Texas. Davin grew up in the small town of Gruver, Texas. He grew up in the Church of Christ, as at the time, there was no Catholic church in the town. His mother’s maiden name was Gruver, and yes, her family was a founder of the town. Davin left Gruver to attend Texas Tech and it was there that he met his wife to be, Teague. Teague was Catholic and took Davin to Mass once with her family over Christmas. After that, Davin made it clear he would never be Catholic. But God had other plans. As Teague and Davin had their first child, Davin started to ask the questions that so many new parents ask themselves. Why did he believe what he believed? What did he want to impress upon his future child? That led him to searching online about the Church of Christ and Catholicism. Divine providence was involved from those very early days. You see, Davin was a farmer, as his family had always been and as he had studied at Texas Tech. But on quiet days, when the weather did not allow for farming, Davin would study the internet, searching for answers. Davin stumbled upon a priest from Paducah, Kentucky, and called him out of the blue. After a wonderful chat, the priest sent him a copy of the Catechism, telling him to read it. One thing led to another, and Davin came into the Catholic church in 2001.  He was still searching, trying to determine what else to do, when he found CDU online in 2004. He was intrigued. He already had a bachelor’s degree, but he was so new to the faith, did a Master’s degree even make sense? He could take a few classes, he thought, and just see.  Before too long, the registrar reached out to him.  He had taken so many classes, why not just apply to the Master’s program? He still was not sure. As he conferred with his wife, she asked why he was taking the classes. He replied, “For fun.” Teague, a banker now, with a MBA and a bit of a pragmatic approach, suggested that if he was going to keep doing it, he should get something out of it. So, he applied to the Master’s program. In 2006 he decided to quit farming altogether. He gave himself a year to exit the business and began to apply for jobs with the church. A small university in Oklahoma not far from him was seeking a finance teacher. Davin had run a successful farming business for 25 years, so why not give that a try? He joined the university and started to teach business classes but did need his MBA to keep teaching. So, Davin, worked on his MBA as he worked on his Master’s in theology at CDU. A few years later, Davin was feeling the call to deacon formation. He spoke with his trusted teammate, Teague, who, in the beginning, did not agree with Davin becoming a deacon. Not long after that conversation, Teague shared she felt God was calling Davin to be a deacon and to start that line of study. He loved the program but felt that much of it was review from what he had learned at CDU. As part of the diaconate program, he and Teague traveled to Amarillo once a month to meet with other candidates and their wives. What a blessed experience that was for them. Finally, in December of 2016, Davin was ordained a deacon. While Davin was in deacon formation, his two boys decided to come into the Catholic Church as well. All grown, with college degrees of their own, Davin taught the RCIA classes that his boys were in. A farmer Davin had known for a while was also entering the Church through the RCIA program. He asked insightful, if not challenging, questions in class. As he asked and Davin answered, Davin’s boys and the other classmates witnessed Davin’s knowledge and the depth of his faith. Davin never stops learning. Recognizing the need to minister to those who speak Spanish in the Diocese of Amarillo, he started taking Spanish classes. Eventually he went to Mexico to enter a language immersion program. Now he can even lead a Mass in a nearby Spanish church. For all that Davin has accomplished to draw others to the faith, perhaps what is most gratifying of all is that his oldest son, Ryan, was called to the seminary at the age of 32. He is currently at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. Davin would never have imagined his life would take him down this path. Yet, as he looks back, he can see the prompting of the Holy Spirit at each step. What we see is a beautiful husband and wife team, always willing to say yes.
February 24, 2023

Education Laid a Firm Foundation for Sharing the Faith

Deacon Michael Holmes (BA, 2006; MA, 2016) has experienced and offered so much to people of faith through his life. As he shared story after story, he explained, “none of this would be possible without CDU.” His education from CDU not only informed and helped to form him, but it also helped to transform the way he ministers to people. All too often, he would see people learning about faith, the Church, and the Catechism with their eyes glazing over. He wanted to help people grow in their faith, to teach people, to answer their questions, and that process did not happen overnight. In fact, it took a few years before he realized that he could teach what was complex in a very simple way. His CDU education laid that foundation. His goal, always, is to provide a basic understanding of what Scripture means and why the Church is teaching it. Deacon Michael was ministering at a local jail, providing a communion service and reflecting on the readings of St. Paul for the day.  Trying to draw out a rather inattentive inmate, he asked what the inmate was thinking. The inmate muttered, “What made Paul so g..d.. good?” Deacon Michael easily replied that Paul had started out as a murderer in that he condoned the stoning of St. Stephen. But, while that is how he started in life, that is not how it ended. In that moment, in that response, Deacon Michael knew his CDU education had enabled him to provide a simple answer to a complex question. Deacon Michael Holmes has spent his life studying, searching, and serving. He was one of the first students to receive a BA degree from CDU in 2006. He went on to receive his Master’s degree from CDU in 2013. He now serves as the deacon for the very church in which he and his wife were married 40 years ago. He is a preacher, a teacher of adult formation in Arizona, who currently serves on the diocesan deacon council under Bishop John Dolan. What makes Deacon Michael Holmes so special is that whether he is preparing a homily or a class, what is always at the forefront of his mind is sharing the faith in a way that connects with others. The foundation that CDU provided gives him the knowledge and confidence to do what he loves: proclaim our faith, be in the moment, be present to others, and share the faith in a meaningful way with those he meets. Thank you, Deacon Michael, for touching so many lives!
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As reported in CDU’s 2020 DEAC Annual Report, based on program exit survey data.

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