By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – John Nicholson serves as a deacon at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Sudbury, a vocation he believes is a calling from God. It allows him to serve inside the parish to which he was assigned, as well as outside in a variety of ministries, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospitals and prisons.
“I am convinced that the seeds of my vocation were planted as a young child by the faith and example of my parents,” John said. “They were without question nurtured by the faith of my wife, Claire, the examples of my three sons, [Mike, Steven and Joseph], even at their young age, and our early involvement in the St. Matthias community in Marlborough.
“As a young family, we attended St. Matthias Church on Sundays and gradually became involved in our church in different ministries. As our sons entered their teen years, they became involved in the LifeTeen youth program. Claire and I expanded our involvement and became friends with members of the clergy in local churches. This significantly expanded our church community and was enriching and life-giving on many levels.
Nicholson was encouraged to apply for the Diaconate Program for the Archdiocese of Boston and was accepted into the program in June 1998, “which started a journey for me, Claire and my sons which I could not have imagined,” he said.
“One of the ministries that I am privileged to participate in is visiting women who are incarcerated at MCI Framingham. When a priest is not available, a deacon will often conduct a prayer service on Sundays. The women I have encountered are often young mothers with children at home. They are so grateful for our presence.”
For the past three years, Nicholson has served on the Mayor's Youth Commission, which addresses issues that relate to the health and wellbeing of the youth in the city. These include Holiday Helper, a Summer Lunch program that provides lunches three days a week to children who might go without, and the Career Connection, which has helped young people in their late teens learn job-related skills, including interviewing techniques, resume writing skills and acceptable workplace behavior.
He is presently working with a group of residents and School Committee member Margaret Dwyer to launch an Alateen program in the city; it helps young people understand how alcoholism affects the lives of all who are associated with a problem drinker.
Nicholson is also involved with a group that recently started a St. Vincent de Paul Conference in Sudbury that provides financial assistance to families in need in the form of assistance with bills, including rent and utilities
Two of his sons are following the his example of service. Mike is the director of Campus Ministry at St. John's High School in Shrewsbury and Stephen recently entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Syracuse, N.Y. Joseph is entering his senior year at Boston College.
John lives in service to others – to his family, friends and all whose lives he touches.
“As is so often the case, when we give a little of ourselves to others,” he said, “we too receive a wonderful gift in return and I receive far more than I give.
“It is a real grace and blessing that, by an accident of birth, I have been blessed by God in so many ways.”