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Love for Christ calls father and son to ordained ministry in Indianapolis Archdiocese

Deacon Liam Hosty and his father, Deacon Tom Hosty, process out of St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis April 27, 2024, after a Mass during which Deacon Liam was ordained. They are the first father and son to be deacons in the history of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Deacon Tom Hosty was ordained in 2022. (OSV News photo/Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

INDIANAPOLIS (OSV News) — This spring Deacon Tom Hosty and his son Liam made history, becoming the first father and son to both be deacons at the same time in the 190-year history of the Catholic Church in central and southern Indiana.

Deacon Tom, 60, was ordained a permanent deacon for the Indianapolis Archdiocese in 2022, and Liam, 26, was ordained a transitional deacon as an archdiocesan seminarian April 27 at St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis, with his ordination to the priesthood expected to happen in June of 2025.

Ahead of Liam’s ordination, in a March interview with The Criterion, the archdiocesan newspaper, neither of them had given much thought to the history they were making. Their hearts and minds were focused instead on matters that were more important to them — their relationship as father and son and their shared desire to serve Christ and the church.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Deacon Tom, director of the archdiocesan Department of Pastoral Ministries. “It’s all in God’s control. There must be a reason that he’s calling the two of us to holy orders. … It’s just complete providence.”

“My dad is always going to be my dad,” said Liam. “But it’s neat to almost see him as a peer and a brother in a certain way, a brother in Christ, a co-worker in the vineyard.”

The paths that father and son have taken to their call to ordained ministry can be traced back to 1999, when the family moved from Kansas City, Kansas, to Indianapolis, where Deacon Tom was transferred in his work as an attorney at NCAA headquarters in its enforcement division.

The family soon became members of St. Barnabas Parish on Indianapolis’ southside. Liam was a toddler at the time, Deacon Tom and wife Julie’s fourth child. A fifth would be born later.

Looking back 25 years later, Julie sees the hand of God guiding her family to St. Barnabas.

“It was divine providence,” she said. “We were provided with so many opportunities and surrounded by really amazing faith-filled people that just inspired us. They were our role models. We wanted to do better. We were very blessed.”

Deacon Tom experienced a turning point in his life of faith in 2003 when he participated in a Christ Renews His Parish retreat at St. Barnabas.

“That’s really when I had for the first time a personal relationship with Christ,” he recalled. “That’s when I drew close to Christ and began diving into Scripture a lot.”

His blossoming faith made an impression on his young son.

“It was really evident when I was a kid that Jesus was a real person because my dad had a relationship with him,” Liam said. “There’s no on and off switch for my dad. Whenever he rests, he’s resting with the Lord. Whenever he’s working, he’s working with the Lord. I saw that.”

Deacon Tom and Julie sought to share their faith not only with their five children, but also with other young people at St. Barnabas. As their own children prepared for the sacrament of confirmation, the parents hosted monthly meetings of small groups of the parish’s teenagers at their home to lead them in their sacramental formation.

Liam regularly saw in these meetings in his own home how important the faith was to his parents.

“Our household was imbued with the sense that our faith was not something we do just on Sunday,” he said. “It’s part of our identity. We’re Catholic Christians.”

When he became a student at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis in 2012, Liam would talk with his dad about what he was learning in his theology classes and how much he was interested in them.

“He had a deep understanding of Catholic theology,” Deacon Tom recalled. “I would have to go and explore it myself. How did he know all this? He was smarter than I was in those things. It was cool to see as a dad.”

As Liam’s time at Roncalli progressed, so did his thoughts about God possibly calling him to be a priest.

“He was pretty open about it,” Deacon Tom said. “Even in high school, he was really being serious about his own discernment.”

As Liam became a seminarian at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary in Indianapolis
in the fall of 2016, Deacon Tom was considering his own possible call to the diaconate.

He had been thinking about it privately for a few years. In 2017, he began the application process to be accepted into the archdiocese’s deacon formation program. He was accepted and began his formation in 2018 when Liam was in his second year at Bishop Bruté.

“It was a very personal call,” Deacon Tom said of his discernment. “I did not want to influence him. And I didn’t want his vocation to influence mine. I needed to understand what God was calling me to do.”

For his part, Liam is grateful for his parents always being in his corner, yet also giving him the space he needed for his consideration of his vocation.

“They have an unconditional love and support for me,” he said. “It has been constant through my childhood and during my discernment.”

Julie has been a constant with Deacon Tom and Liam in their respective discernments. While her husband admires the deep faith he has seen in her throughout their 35 years of marriage, Julie was quick to say with a laugh that her husband and son were called to ordained ministry “in spite of me, in spite of my failings.”

“They’re very inspiring to me,” she said. “I do feel that, because of them, my faith is stronger. They’re both just pretty amazing — in their faith and the way they serve others. The servant heart that both of them have is very inspiring to me.”

The bond of Deacon Tom and Liam deepened in the four years from 2018-22 when both were in formation for ordained ministry. That bond has only strengthened since Deacon Tom’s ordination in 2022.

Their common experience of formation gives them a bond that brings them together in ways they can’t share with others who haven’t gone down the same path.

It went beyond just talking about their experiences to praying together, along with Julie. In their times together at home, they prayed together the Liturgy of the Hours, something that all who are ordained promise at their ordination to do for the rest of their lives.

Liam was ordained a transitional deacon April 27 at St. Barnabas Church in Indianapolis. At the beginning of the rite, as part of the church’s ordination ritual that goes back centuries, a person representing the church calls forward those to be ordained by name.

This symbolic action became personal and poignant for father and son.

Deacon Tom called forth his son.

“Let the one who is to be ordained a deacon come forth,” he said.

He paused for about 10 seconds, working to gain hold of his overflowing emotions before he finally added, “Liam James Hosty.”

After the ordination Mass, Deacon Tom spoke about the emotions he felt.

“It was a powerful moment to announce to the community that he was being called forward to be ordained a deacon,” he told The Criterion. “It’s unique for a parent to have that role in the rite.”

“It was a beautiful moment to see how much love my dad has for me and how proud he is of me,” added Deacon Liam. “I’m proud of my dad, too. He’s also laid down his life for the Gospel. I hope to do the same.”

Sean Gallagher is a reporter and columnist at The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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