Originallyfrom Saginaw, Michigan, Roy Mellon spent more than 20 years in the U.S. AirForce. Now retired and living in Korea for 11 years, he’s serving the U.S., theCatholic Church, and fellow believers in his new role as deacon. For Mellon,service has never meant so much.
By MichaelaHotham ’14
Photos by Margaret Mellon
How has theterm “service” changed for you as a member of the military?
My militaryservice gave me a background in many fields related to the aerospace industry,specifically in operations and maintenance of special mission aircraft. I amcurrently the area manager for my U.S.-based company’s operations in Korea.This has given me the ability to have a challenging career. It’s allowed me tocare well for my family, and is also personally rewarding.
The otherposition is that of a permanent deacon incardinated with the Archdiocese forthe Military Services, USA (AMS). In 2008, after attending a discernmentretreat led by Archbishop Timothy Broglio from AMS, I said I would like topursue the diaconate. I was told that the AMS did not have a program, and thatI would have to wait until I left Korea to work with my home diocese.
Did thatmean you had to come back to the States?
I explainedthe dilemma to another AMS auxiliary bishop. Shortly after that he asked me tohelp him formulate a proposal to send to the archbishop to establish a pilotprogram for diaconal formation for the AMS. He specifically asked me to work onwhat is called the intellectual aspect of formation, or the academic portion. Idid a “trade study,” as we call it in engineering, of all the academicinstitutions listed by the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops on their website.
After weeksof research and discussions, I presented my analysis and findings to thebishop, and we agreed to propose the Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology (MAPT)program at Saint Joseph’s College Online as the academic qualification for thediaconate. We spoke many times with Deacon Dan Sheridan, PhD in the process.
Has servingabroad informed your work, both in the military and the Church?
This givesanyone a larger worldview. I believe living overseas and being multilingualinherently gives a person the ability to see things in ways that they normallycouldn’t when their frame of reference consists of only one culturalenvironment. I am sure that living overseas has changed the way I view theworld and has made me more understanding and compassionate. Everything that hashappened in my life to date has contributed to my ability to be successful inmy mission as well as with my activity in the Church.
The militaryhas contributed to this calling as well. I am retired from the Air Force andhave been a member of the parish community at the U.S. Army installation nearmy house since arrival in Korea in 2003. My language training through themilitary has enabled me to reach out to local residents.
Does servingGod as a member of the military differ from its civilian counterpart?
Those whoare called to serve those in service to their country are truly privileged. Ican’t think of anything more rewarding at this time than caring for thespiritual lives of those who are dedicating their lives and are willing tosacrifice everything for the ones they love, God, family, and country.
When youwake up in the morning and look at where you are and what you are doing, whatgoes through your mind?
I feelamazement and happiness. Six years ago there was no way a permanent deaconcould have been ordained for the AMS. In fact, my fellow graduate Deacon JosephPak and I are the first clergy ever to be ordained and incardinatedspecifically by the military archdiocese. I believe in miracles, for sure. Ibelieve that anything is possible if you truly have faith in God.
My life to this point has been very rewarding. Ihave been blessed with a beautiful, loving family and the ability to care forthem. It is now my privilege to serve others in any way I can, with the graceof God.