Like many others, Bill Hudson began to feel a pull to service in the wake of the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike others, this was a not a call to arms, but to God. A computer software engineer working in the private sector at the time of the attacks, Bill’s memory of that fateful day – like all of us – is seared in his mind.
He called it “a date of clarity in recognition of my vocation. Sitting in my office watching the events unfold via the Internet news services, I was gripped by a voice that spoke two directives with incredible and compelling clarity.”
So began the journey closer to God for Hudson. It took him from a computer programming engineer to teaching at St. Joseph’s to recently being installed as a Deacon by the Diocese of Charleston.
Those two directives from the Lord on 9/11 of which Hudson speaks were “One, call your family and tell them you love them and two, ‘Come and spend time with me!’
“Almost immediately, I understood the second directive meant to go and spend time before the Blessed Sacrament,” said Bill, 53. His job allowed him to go without delay. “I immediately felt at peace upon entering the sanctuary. I just knew being there was the right thing.
“From that date, daily Mass and Eucharistic adoration became a staple of my everyday schedule,” he said. “It was not too long after this that members of the Church community began to suggest that I may have a vocation to the Diaconate.”
A religious sister and Bill’s pastor asked him about being a deacon which is a huge commitment of time and study. “Despite feelings of unworthiness … I made a formal inquiry and was recommended by my pastor,” Bill said.
Time passed and soon it was 2006, the year that Bill decided to leave the private sector and become a teacher at St. Joseph’s. He now teaches middle school Theology and Computer Science in the high school, plus he’s the head Softball coach. “The decision to become a teacher was also part of the same call and served as part of my formation period,” he said.
Bill credits the late Bob Brady, a deacon who also taught at SJCS, with guiding him during his decision to pursue the Diaconate. “Deacon Bob was always positive and encouraged me to persevere in applying at a time when several years had elapsed since the initial idea,’ Bill said, “and I began to wonder about the whole process.”
Tragically, Bob Brady passed away in 2007. After getting back home from the funeral Mass, Bill found a letter asking him to fill out the enclosed application for Diaconate formation. The timing of the letter seemed heaven sent. “Needless to say, doubts about pursuing application were put to rest,” Bill said.
There was another delay for Bill with the reassignment of Bishop Baker from Charleston to Birmingham.
Finally with the installation of Bishop Guglielmone in 2009, the process was reopened and Bill was on his way by mid-2010. But he also decided to return to school and earn a Master’s degree in Theology.
He completed the application process in 2010 then entered the official discernment period beginning in January 2011. After six months of classes, prayer and reflection, Bill received a recommendation to become an Aspirant in the Diaconal Formation program and began formal coursework in the fall of 2011.
But Bill wasn’t done, not by a long shot.
Next was a year of studies in Theology followed by induction in the Rite of Candidacy on Sept. 15, 2012. The Rite is a formal profession that a man intends to complete the necessary steps toward ordination. One year later, Bill was elevated to the Ministry of Lector, a permanent bestowal on the candidate of the faculty to proclaim the Word at Mass through the readings.
More steps followed. In September of 2014, Bill was elevated to the Ministry of the Acolyte by the Bishop, and that was the final ministry prior to ordination.
Finally nearly 10 years after he made the decision to become a Deacon, Bill Hudson, a proud son of Macon, Ga., was ordained. His was the first class of deacons to be ordained in nearly a decade.
Bill credits his family – wife Zoe, son Jordan (SJCS ’08) and daughter Carly (SJCS ’10) – with helping him find the strength to complete the journey. There was “a tremendous amount of love and support from my wife and family, many hours of prayer and preparation, intense studies and clear guidance from the Holy Spirit,” Bill said.
Bill has been assigned to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, his home parish. “Deacons have a wide and diverse ministry of service that goes well beyond the time of service during Mass,” Bill said. Working with the pastor, a Deacon agrees to commitments in Liturgy, Word and Charity. Some of a Deacon’s duties include performing baptisms, witnessing marriages, conducting funeral services, preaching, leading prayer and adoration services and teaching to name a few.
But this is only the beginning for Bill. It’s the start of “a much bigger commitment to serve the Church and the people of God, “ he said. “I am excited about the possibilities and have learned in my own journey that even though I might initially think that something He asks me to do is ridiculous or out of character that I definitely need to hang on and find out the rest of the story.”