She is an MIT-trained scientist and engineer, who currently teaches science at a private, international high school in Rowland Heights.Together, Dr. John and Marylee Hull are one of 14 new “deacon couples” for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, following John’s ordination to the permanent diaconate June 11 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. And, like their fellow couples, they have been busily engaged for a number of years at their parish — in the Hulls’ case, St. Rita Church in Sierra Madre.John Hull becomes the third deacon ordained for St. Rita’s, since the reinstitution of the permanent diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church in the 1960s. He and Marylee join Deacon Manuel and Griselda Valencia in ministering to the spiritual needs of the 1,135 families of this faith community, under the direction of the pastor, Msgr. Richard Krekelberg. (Hull’s early mentor, the parish’s beloved first deacon, Ernie Nosari, passed away in 2005.) ‘I felt called to serve’“I grew up as a Christmas and Easter Christian,” says John Hull. “Then I faced the tumultuous college environment of Ohio State at the height of its unrest, where I drifted away from Christianity altogether.”And then he drifted back after college, when seemingly chance circumstances in Boston introduced him to Marylee, and simultaneously “brought me back to Christianity in my own St. Paul-like conversion. I then felt called to serve.”He began studies for a Masters in Divinity in 1976, and was ordained to minister in the American Baptist Church. In 1984 he returned to study for a second Master’s degree, this time in Urban Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. After graduation, he pastored two Los Angeles churches until 1992, when he assumed an administrative role at Fuller, entered their Doctor of Divinity program, and taught there as an adjunct assistant professor of Practical Theology for a decade.In the late 1990s, he chose to become Catholic, studying under Deacon Nosari, and was confirmed at Easter 1999. Feeling called again into active ministry, John and Marylee were mentored and encouraged by Deacon Manuel and Chela Valencia to move forward as a couple into the diaconate ministry.The opportunity to enter the ordained, permanent diaconate ministry is open to active, practicing Catholic men ages 31-60, married or single. “Most deacons,” Hull comments, “are paid by the church. Most hold full time ‘secular’ careers outside the church. It is our particular mission and ministry to bring the ‘outside world’ perspective to our pastor.”In 2006, the Hulls enrolled in the Diaconate formation program, and have dedicated nearly every weekend together to the program’s study for John’s ordination over the past two years. They will serve St. Rita’s together.During his formation, John felt “a stirring in my heart to get back to doing direct Christian ministry, in choosing hospice ministry to the dying and their families.” He recently accepted a full time ministerial position at Mission Hospice in South Pasadena. Marylee, his wife of 36 years, currently teaches science at the Oxford School in Rowland Heights. The Hulls — Sierra Madre residents since 1992, with four children (the youngest attending nearby Alverno High School) — will continue their ministry in several areas at St. Rita’s, including the Liturgy of the Hours held weekly on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. in St. Rita’s Oratory chapel; their ministry to the visually impaired CLIMB residents at their Sierra Madre facility; and Marylee’s position on the St. Rita School board, where their youngest daughter attended elementary school. Their joint hope and ministry is to foster and further ecumenical conversation and outreach, focusing their unique spiritual journey and path on the commonalities of John’s Catholic faith and Marylee’s Protestant tradition and heritage. Msgr. Krekelberg, who presided at a June 12 Mass of Thanksgiving celebrating John’s ordination, speaks of the couple in glowing terms. “When I first came to St. Rita,” he recalls, “John, in his characteristic humility, shared his personal history of religious experience and ministry with me. I knew from that moment that John and Marylee would play an important role in the unfolding of our own parish story. Because the diaconate formation program takes at least five years, I knew it would be a highlight of our transition into St. Rita’s second century. We all rejoice that John has answered God’s call to this ministry, via a long searching path, full of spiritual steppingstones.” {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0624/hulls/{/gallery}