Hosts Emily Mentock and Fr. Patrick Gonyeau welcome Deacon Fred Billotto, who has been propelled into service of the Gospel by a great love for the laity and docility to the Holy Spirit. Listen in as Dcn. Fred shares about his discernment to become a permanent deacon, the impact of investing in his parish community, the role of scripture in his life, and finally his dreams for the future. Our God-given missions are not simply places we pour out our time and energy, but rather, they are the places God pours his life and grace into our hearts. Take a listen!
(00:19) Emily and Fr. Patrick discuss good things happening in their lives. Emily mentions the LA Religious Educators Congress in Anaheim, CA. They discuss the gift of sharing the Gospel with a smile. Fr. Patrick has loved participating in parish missions recently. He reflects on the beauty of having a full church at night, “This isn’t Sunday morning. People are coming because they want more. They’re hungry and thirsty for the Lord.”
(05:25) Emily introduces this episode’s guest Dcn. Fred Billotto, who is a deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit, serving at Our Lady of Victory in Northville. He also serves the Archdiocese of Detroit through writing weekly Gospel reflections. Dcn. Fred grew up Catholic, and was taught by religious in early education. “I had faith, but I didn’t always live it out.” He did not have an “ah ha” moment with the Lord but throughout his life felt called to committed discipleship. He felt discernment helped him navigate marrying early, and choosing a job that could support his large family.
(11:40) Dcn. Fred shares about his inspirations in the faith. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis de Sales have helped to make him aware of the possibility of having a relationship with God. Our guest reflects on the slow but steady, gradual growth that the Lord has invited him to throughout his life. Dcn. Fred tells us about how spiritual growth has occurred in his family life. “When you’re married and have kids, you have to give yourself away. It’s like a virtue factory.” Emily makes this point that vocations are also where God calls you to receive his love. “It’s not just give, give, give.”
(20:18) “Married life is a vocation!” Emily invites Dcn. Fed to share about how his discernment has looked in his movement toward marriage and the permanent diaconate. Discernment with marriage was focused on timing and the practicals of a job. Discernment for the diaconate was about commitment and he and his wife discerning together.
(24:40) How he serves: Dcn. Fed and his wife invest in engaged couples in his parish by hosting “wine and pizza” — when Dcn. Fred and his wife invited couples preparing for marriage to their home, and this transformed the meetings into times to share faith and grow. Emily affirms the importance of relationship and witness in sharing the Gospel and how Dcn. Fred and his wife are doing this through hosting these “wine and pizza” nights.
(29:30) Virtue Factory: Emily points out that Dr. Fred’s experience shows that not only is his marriage a source of holiness for him, but also his vocation to serve as a permanent deacon is an inflow of grace for the deacon. These experiences allow grace to flow through him, and then back to him. He is blessed through giving. God’s mission fills us.
(31:31) Love of the Word: Dcn. Fred teaches on the Gospels at Madonna University. Dcn. Fred discusses how the Holy Spirit moves him to preach instead of teach in the classroom. Emily shares her personal experience of writing assignments in her high school scripture class that opened her heart to encountering God.
(38:00) What is your dream? Dcn. Fred speaks of a dream to lead an apostolate that brings the world’s attention to the power of living a lay life. He wants to ennoble other couples and families to live their vocations fully and frutifully.. He feels this reality is so often overlooked and undervalued. But he sees this powerful understanding of lay life to have the potential to transform our Church.
(40:40) Dcn. Fred closes in prayer, asking the Lord to allow us to live in his joy and his peace. He asks the Lord to remind us that when we ask, we receive, when we seek, we find, and when we knock, doors are opened. Thanks for listening!