In the coming weeks, Pope Francis will be visiting the United States to attend the 2015 World Meeting of Families, a Roman Catholic convention that celebrates families. Although there have been more than 260 popes, only four have visited the United States.

The second in a weekly series featuring Texomans sharing their personal faith.


In the coming weeks, Pope Francis will be visiting the United States to attend the 2015 World Meeting of Families, a Roman Catholic convention that celebrates families. Although there have been more than 260 popes, only four have visited the United States.


Many Catholics mark this visit as an exciting moment in Catholic history.


"I think that the Pope’s visit is very important. People haven’t quite figured him out yet. It is going to be interesting and a good thing. It is amazing that he is coming and that he will be talking about family, family units and families staying together and being a part of the community. It will be interesting to see people’s opinions about the visit and what he has to say when he comes," Albert Miller, a deacon in St. Mary Catholic Church in Sherman, said.


Miller has been a Catholic deacon for more than 30 years and at St. Mary for eight years, but he remembers another moment as his proudest as a Catholic.


It happened when he was just a child growing up in Durant, Oklahoma.


"Sometimes traveling evangelists would come, and we would have assemblies in the gym at school. One asked if all of the Christians would stand up. I stood up. People looked at me crazy. They said, ‘He’s not Christian. He’s Catholic.’ Looking back now, I am proud that I stood up just because of what it represented."


There are a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic church, Miller said.


"I grew up in Oklahoma. It was a small town and only a few Catholics went to my school. They used to say things like, ‘Catholics sacrifice their first born,’ and, ‘On her wedding night, the bride was required to sleep with the priest.’ These things are just untrue and rooted in ignorance."


Moments like this made Miller want to study, learn and understand more about his faith.


"I became a deacon because I wanted to do more for the community. When I was studying, there were a lot of people that began with me but ended up dropping out. It was about a four-hour drive to class every three or four months. We took classes and had assignments. I studied for about four years in Tulsa because I was still living in Oklahoma. I was ordained in 1984."


The seven sacraments are unique to Catholicism, Miller said. To him, the sacraments are important because they show commitment to the church. They are the outward expressions and are reaffirmations of faith.


Baptism, the first sacrament, takes place at infancy.


"Baptism with the Trinity is only done once in someone’s life. Then at 13 or 14 a child will go through confirmation."


Confirmation is a two-year program that includes an oath to acknowledge one’s faith and is a rite of passage.


"Catholic marriage is very important because the Catholic Church does not recognize divorce. We hold that in high regard as the fourth of the sacraments."


One of the deacon’s roles at St. Mary is to help distribute Holy Communion, another sacrament.


"We believe in Communion and reconciliation. Reconciliation is asking for forgiveness. It is done in prayer, and Communion is the taking of the Last Supper."


Many believe that the sacrament of anointing the sick has to be performed when someone is on his or her deathbed, Miller said.


"That is not true. This is when holy oils for healing are placed on the body. It’s the last rite, and can be done anytime you are sick."


The holy order is a special sacrament.


"Being ordained as a minister is its own sacrament. Priests have to study for four to six years. They cannot marry and must remain celibate."


A male has to be 35 before he can enter into studies to become a deacon.


Miller said that is because the church is very family centered. A man is supposed to take care of his family first. Then he is able to study to become a deacon.


"Now you have to study for about five or six years to become a deacon. The local diocese is in Dallas though, and there, instructors are brought in to teach a range of subjects including psychology, scripture and church law. I became a deacon more than 30 years ago in 1984 so things have changed a bit since then."