Despite some tough health issues and challenges in recent years, Deacon Larry Driver has survived through the power of prayer.
In the fall of 2008, he went in to get an annual physical for his driver’s licence and the doctor noticed he had a large lump on the left side of his throat. It turned out to be Stage 4 melanoma cancer in his lymph nodes on his neck. But that was the primary. After an appointment in the cancer clinic, it was discovered cancer on his left tonsil. After surgery, he had both chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Today, he describes himself as being “pretty healthy.” Although he’s a Type 2 Diabetic and taking some medication, but from a cancer point of view he’s clear.
Faith is what he carried him through the ordeal.
“I learned what prayer is all about at that point. Over the time, I had people praying all over the world for me to get better and to know that if you need help you ask people to pray for you . . . You need people to pray - to speak to the good Lord. The more people you’ve got praying for you the better your chances are of getting help. Not that He doesn’t help you but it’s the intercessions that we go to Mary and Joseph and the saints for. The more people you’ve got working for you the better it is,” says Driver.
Driver, who turns 70 in October, started the program in 2001 to become a Deacon in the Calgary Diocese. He was ordained on June 14, 2004.
Driver was attending St. Mark’s in Calgary where he saw Deacon Amadeo served as a deacon. ”It struck me as interesting that he was able to work there.” Closer to 2000, Larry asked Bishop Henry about the permanent diaconate.
Bishop Henry recalled this particular conversation with Driver. “Shortly after my arrival in the diocese, and upon meeting Larry, his first question to me was “What do you think about the permanent diaconate?” My reply was “I’m definitely in favour of it.” He was the first to raise the issue with me in the diocese. His question was actually repeated by others many times in the first six months.”
Driver has been a Deacon from the beginning at St. Francis de Sales in High River.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that the Bishops have left me in this parish so far for my Diaconate service,” he says.
Driver is originally from the Grande Prairie area. After graduating from the Grande Prairie Composite High School, he had jobs in labour, trucking and warehousing until 1975 then he was hired on by the City of Calgary’s Emergency Medical Services Department and moved to Calgary in July 1975.
“The City trained me as a paramedic at SAIT and I graduated as a paramedic with honours from the class and then I worked for the City until 1978. I moved back to Grande Prairie but that didn’t work out. So I came back to Calgary, was rehired and finished up my 32-year career with the City of Calgary,” says Driver, who retired in July 2007.
Being a Deacon fits in with his career being a paramedic.
“You’re there. You’re helping people. I could see that. But I also saw it as a faith journey to increase my faith and help others through that journey of faith,” says Driver, who has had an interesting personal journey of faith.
He was raised Anglican but over time he found the Roman Catholic faith more to his liking and he became a Catholic in the late 1980s with the help of Father Cooney, who eventually became a Bishop.
Driver has two daughters who both have two children - three boys and a girl. The family has played an important role in his success in becoming a Deacon as well as in his battle against cancer.
“My wife has been a super support through all of this and as much as she’s not on the altar she’s definitely been the one that has supported me the most in this,” says Driver.
Therese says it was only natural for her to support her husband on his journey to becoming a Deacon.
“If that’s what they want and feel called to do, who am I to stop them and if I don’t support them they can’t go on,” she says. “He felt the calling and was prepared to do what had to be done. It certainly didn’t harm me at all. It certainly gives me an understanding of what’s expected, of what the ministry is and it affects the family. You have to know that ahead of time. It does have an impact on the family and everything you do.”
Through Larry’s health challenges, the power of prayer became very important, adds Therese.
“To trust in God. If it’s meant to be it will happen, if it’s not then that will happen too. We trust in God and do the best we can and let God work the way He works. It’s God’s work one way or the other and we were prepared either way. If you’re going to survive this, great, if not then we’ll deal with it. So were our kids. They were all on board and you do what you have to. I grew up in hard times and you just do what you have to. That’s all there is to it.”
Catholic Pastoral Centre Staff and Guest Writers