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A Deacon with MS: “It was almost a gift for me to be diagnosed…”

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/29/16

A humbling portrait of a man in ministry that should be an inspiration to us all.

From The Catholic Free Press in Worcester, MA:

Deacon Frank Myska and his wife, Elizabeth Myska, of Immaculate Conception Parish, both learned several years ago that they had disabilities, disabilities which have since gotten worse. That hasn’t stopped them. Instead, they’ve let their handicaps lead them into new ministries, ministries reminiscent of Pope Francis’ call to go out to the peripheries and to live out Christ’s mercy. Deacon Myska, diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2012, gets around in an electric wheelchair. Mrs. Myska, a lawyer, legally blind since 2008, walks with a white cane. “I’m dealing with a segment of the population that I normally wouldn’t think about,” says Deacon Frank Myska, 60. “Now I have to.” As a participant in a program for the elderly, he says he’s identifying with fellow participants’ problems, not just empathizing. As a permanent deacon, he has an unusual opportunity for ministry. “I do go out to the peripheries because I go to Summit,” Deacon Myska says of Summit ElderCare, where he spends his weekdays. This Fallon Health program is called PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly). Tuesdays Deacon Myska joins an MS support group and a men’s group at the Leominster site; the other weekdays he receives services at the Grafton Street facility.   …Deacon Myska says he thinks he belongs at Summit. As a deacon, he reaches out to the Catholic population there. But they’re not the end of his reach. “I just interact with them,” he says of other Summit participants. “In a way, I’m evangelizing.… People open up to me.… I’m not one for giving a lot of advice. I’m there to be a sounding post.” He shares their suffering, though he doesn’t see himself as suffering, he says. “It was almost a gift for me to be diagnosed with this MS,” he says. “The Christian existence is one of suffering. Jesus suffered too – he died. Our job is to persevere through the suffering. Having the faith that Jesus is walking with us, no matter what – it’s really a wonderful support for me.” ..His assignment is at his own parish, Immaculate Conception, for his safety and convenience, he says. He no longer preaches there and doesn’t prepare the altar, which he can’t get to. But he distributes Communion from his power chair and does baptismal preparation, he says. “He’s got the heart of a deacon – he’s a man of service,” says his pastor, Father Walter J. Riley. “We love him here. His presence is an asset.” He’s willing to do anything, and does what he can.

There’s more. Read it all.

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