Following the headline announcements last week regarding upcoming changes in the diocese, the back page is back!
First the Diaconate. Recalling that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment the Permanent Diaconate the Bishop writes: “This anniversary offers an appropriate opportunity for us to begin formation for the Permanent Diaconate in our Diocese. In doing so, we can respond to our current pastoral need, and the clear mandate of the Diocesan Consultation, and form men to help animate the missionary dimension of local communities through the ministry of word, sacrifice and charity that is particular to the Diaconate. This will be a significant help to us – bishop, priests and people – as together we learn how to shape and develop missionary parishes for the future. Introducing the Permanent Diaconate now allows us to learn from fifty years of experience and practice of other dioceses and benefit from hindsight and a wealth of theological reflection and good practice.
At the time of the Council there were those who felt good people were already carrying out the work of this ministry effectively without formal recognition or ordination. The Council Fathers sought to enhance their role through ordination. Some people still question this as a further clericalization of the Church and wonder whether there is anything that a Permanent Deacon may do which is not already possible for a lay person. Our response should echo the Council Fathers: why deprive the Church of the grace that ordination brings? Learning from experience in other places, I believe that in our Diocese we can form a complementary relationship of collaboration between priests, deacons and people, under the pastoral guidance of the bishop.”
So now the process has begun with consultation and discussions to decide on a strategy of recruitment, selection, training, conditions of service, remuneration and the rest. If you have any thoughts on these matters, then please do submit them to me in writing (hard copy or email) and I shall forward them to Fr Philip Caldwell who is the Bishop’s delegate for these matters.
Finally, November is the month during which in our Catholic tradition we pray for all our dead and request their prayers of us. The last wish of St Monica, mother to the great St Augustine, was “All I ask of you is that, wherever you may be, you should remember me at the altar of the Lord.” During the month of November we should do no less for our deceased family and friends.