Changing uniforms

Alan Brockmeier, retired New Mexico State Police captain, talks about his being ordained as a transitional deacon during an interview Wednesday at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clovis. Photo by Eric Kluth.

By Gary Mitchell

It was a long time in the making, but Suzanne Brockmeier has seen the realization of a teenage prayer.
On June 20, her husband, retired New Mexico State Police Capt. Alan Brockmeier, was ordained as a transitional deacon, the final step to becoming a full-fledged Episcopal priest, along with 10 other deacons and two priests at St. Clements Episcopal Cathedral in El Paso, Texas.
“When I was a teenager, I always wanted to marry a priest, but I married a cop instead,” Suzanne Brockmeier said. “I prayed to marry a priest. And now he’s become one.”
Alan Brockmeier began attending St. James’ Episcopal Church in 1993 when he first started dating Suzanne, who had been an Episcopalian most of her life. He married her in 1994.
When Alan announced he felt called to the ministry after 30 years in law enforcement, Suzanne said she was a bit surprised.
“When he first told me God was calling him, I said, ‘Are you sure?’ because he hadn’t been in the Episcopal Church very long,” she said. “We prayed about it for six months or more.”
“I told Suzanne, I told my parents, and I talked to Father John (Rollinson, rector of St. James’ church), and he said, ‘OK, great, now take some time and pray for discernment,’ ” Brockmeier said. “Everyone was in agreement, so I started the process of ordination.”
Brockmeier retired from the state police force in July 1999, primarily to pursue his studies related to the ministry. He was recently activated as an Army National Guardsman to serve with the 27th Security Forces at Cannon Air Force Base.
It took him 33 months of year-round studies beyond his bachelor’s degree to fulfill the church’s seminary requirements.
“It’s a 78-step process,” he said. “There are a lot of interviews, psychological testing and studies to do. It’s quite a process.”
When the day of ordination finally arrived, it was more than the family anticipated.
“I felt the Holy Spirit more than I ever had,” Suzanne Brockmeier said. “I was extremely proud of him, and I was very humbled that God had called us into the ministry. In the Episcopal Church, it’s a team ministry for the husband and wife.”
For Alan Brockmeier, the experience was spiritually stunning.
“It’s hard to describe,” he said. “The presence of the Lord was just overwhelming. I was in the closest communion with the Lord I’ve ever felt. In that relationship with the Lord, I didn’t pay any attention to much else going on. I told the Lord, ‘You brought me here, and I’m here, Lord. Just give me the abilities to be your faithful servant and to minister the Word. Lord, it’s yours. I’m yours. You mold me the way you want me and guide me in all those thing you want me to do.’ It’s my most exciting endeavor, but he’s got to be in control.”
Brockmeier’s father, Lowell Brockmeier, 77, said he wasn’t surprised about his son’s decision to enter the ministry.
“He’s always been a good Christian person — even when he was with the state police,” he said. “I’m very proud of him, too. We have a lot of ministers in my family.”
Brockmeier’s mother, Barbara, 76, said she was “excited” about his entering the priesthood.
“We’re just blessed,” she said, brushing away tears. “It just doesn’t get any better than having your children serve the Lord.”
Since his ordination, Brockmeier has been filling the pulpit for Rollinson, who is away in England for a brief period.
“Alan was wearing his cleric’s collar, and somebody there in the church just casually said, ‘He’s wearing a new uniform now,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, he just changed from one uniform to another.’ He went from the black and gray of the state police to the Army green camouflage of the National Guard back to the black again of the clergy,” Suzanne said. “As a deacon, his priority is to be a servant, and that’s exactly what he was in the state police.”