Deacon Clayton A. Nickel

[title]When Blessed Pope John Paul II came to D.C. 31 years ago, I was captivated by his dynamic personality. Here was someone who was dedicating his whole life and soul and being to Christ and to the Catholic Church. His visit – his witness started my pilgrimage and entry into the Catholic Church three years later in 1982. The Washington metro area is my home. The Catholic Church is my spiritual home.

In the close to 30 years since my conversion, my faith has brought me to Apartheid South Africa where I was involved with development projects for the squatter communities around Cape Town, in addition to my studies in archaeology and anthropology at the University of Cape Town. My faith brought me in direct contact with Blessed Mother Teresa, as she was setting up an orphanage, and day care center in these very same communities. Christ showed himself among the poorest of the poor. My faith and my stay in South Africa brought me to witness to the social teachings of the church. As our Holy Father writes in “God is Love”, our  “love of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and that closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.” These six years witnessed to the fact that our Church is Catholic and universal (a valuable lesson if we look at the Church only from a US or European perspective).

My faith also brought me together with my wife Dr. Simone Seym, who I met in Japan at the Easter Vigil where only 0.35 percent are Catholic. My journey of faith became our journey of faith. Our journey led us to Simone’s hometown in Germany. I am an archaeologist and an anthropologist by training, but it was in Germany that I started my career as a Specialist for Online Publishing, in Information Technology. I am now working at the Press Department of the German Embassy in Washington DC as the Webmaster. 

Since coming to the US in 1999, we have been members of St Raphael’s Parish in Rockville, Maryland. Upon my ordination in 2008, I have served the German Pastoral Mission, the community that prays to God in the Holy Father's mother tongue. 

I remember the day I was received into the church like it was yesterday. Each day is a new opportunity to grow and help others grow and to find new ways to put our common faith into action. I look forward to serving the entire St Matthew's community, particularly the Sick and the Homebound.