Catholic Vancouver Feb. 14, 2018

Ranch, Rosary planted vocational seeds for Deacon Ken

By Agnieszka Ruck

Ken Anderson (front row, centre) with his parents and siblings in this undated photo. Now a deacon, Anderson says his family was a key to encouraging his vocation. (Photo submitted)

VANCOUVER—Living and working with a tight-knit family on a remote B.C. ranch was a recipe for vocation for Deacon Ken Anderson.

“Learning to work in a family, learning to sacrifice for one another,” and regular prayer time at home were key ingredients for deeper conversion and discovering a call to the priesthood.

“It wasn’t one great light moment like St. Paul when he was struck off the horse,” but a “gradual accompaniment of our Lord with a particular blessing of my family,” he told 230 friends, supporters, and fellow seminarians at a dinner Feb. 7.

Deacon Anderson, one of seven children, grew up in Fraser Lake, a small village in the geographical centre of B.C. He said feeding cows, shovelling snow, and learning to get along with his siblings prepared him to hear God’s call.

“It’s in the family that I’ve been able to begin learning how to be of service to others,” he said, reflecting on how his siblings, all homeschooled, would split into teams to tackle dinner chores and argue over who would get the easiest tasks.

“Simply learning to work together was, looking back, a part of my vocational journey in the sense that I’m called now as a deacon to a vocation of service, and, Lord-willing, as a priest, serving the people of God.”

Ken Anderson. (Photo submitted) 
Ken Anderson. (Photo submitted)

His parents also placed a strong focus on prayer and spiritual reading, which worked their ways into his heart as well.

“As a child, when we prayed the family Rosary, I would amuse myself by tangling the rosary and tangling it again,” he laughed. “This is not deep, contemplative prayer by any means, yet it’s planting those seeds of relationship, which as I have grown up and been in the seminary, I have been able to deepen.”

His parents would also read Scripture or stories about the lives of the saints to his siblings as they washed, dried, and put away dishes.

“The stories of the saints really put the idea of becoming a priest as a vocation as one of the options,” said Deacon Anderson. “It was a normal thing to do,” and, like the daily prayer time, “planted the seed.”

As soon as he finished high school, Deacon Anderson entered the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, a 860-kilometre drive from home. There, he found the same principles of work, service, and prayer continued to nourish his desire to become a priest.

His sister Grace said his vocation was clear since he was a child. “I don’t remember a significant moment of him saying he was going to be a priest, but as kids we kind of knew. I remember as young as 7 or 8, thinking Ken was going to become a priest.”

She said their parents encouraged them to be “open to whatever God wanted,” but didn’t press any specific roles on them. When one of their older sisters became a Cistercian nun, Deacon Anderson was encouraged even more to choose religious life.

Ken Anderson with his oldest sister, a Cistercian nun. (Photo submitted)

She’s convinced Deacon Anderson will make a good priest. “He’s really humble and he has a gentle spirit in some ways, but he’s really courageous too. I can testify to that, climbing trees and standing on the edges of cliffs as kids together,” she laughed.

“It really is on his heart to proclaim the Gospel. He also has a heart for people who are suffering … He’s really pro-life. Ultimately, at the heart of every issue is that we need to bring Christ into the world. I really look to Ken as a model for that.”

Deacon Anderson told the 230 supporters at the Italian Cultural Centre Feb. 7 that to be serious about ordaining priests, they must be serious about building strong communities.

“I urge you, in your support for vocations, to support families.”

Deacon Anderson is expected to be ordained a priest for the Diocese of Prince George sometime in 2018.

Deacon Ken Anderson with his sister, Grace, in Vancouver Feb. 7.
Deacon Anderson (second from left) with Bishop Stephen Jensen and seminarians Joseph Lefebvre and Matthew Bellerive in Vancouver Feb. 7.