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August 6, 1993     The Message
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August 6, 1993

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6, 1993 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 1 1 te Vl: Exploring the restoration of the permanent diaconate are Deacons when laity do the job? By FATHER JOHN MOORE Special to the Message nent deacons when they stated that they wished to introduce the perma- nent diaconate into this country "both to complete the hierarchy of sacred orders and to enrich and strengthen the various diaconal min- istries at work in the United States with the sacramental grace of the di- aconate." The first of these reasons --"to complete the hierarchy of sacred or- ders" -- refers to the fact that the di- aconate is an integral part of the ministerial hierarchy (bishops, priests, and deacons) originally es- tablished for Christ's Church. This point was to a great extent lost sight of during the centuries in which the diaconate was in eclipse. Yet the diaconate is clearly a part of the Sacrament of Orders. its restora- some people, the basic ques- Labout the diaconate is -- why? It that priests and laity can do thing that permanent deacons So why is it desirable to re- i the diaconate? Many general answers can be to this question, but they do to the heart of the matter. The and basic reasons were up by the United States s in their resolution on perma- gh some functions of the . . are in fact accus- to be entrusted to laymen, is nevertheless beneficial to lose who perform a truly dia- l ministry to be strengthened the imposition of hands, a tra- :ion " g back to the Apostles tion is not an invitation in the sense of being something brand new (for the diaconate dates back to the very earliest days of the Church), nor is it an exercise in antiquari- anism (since there are many pressing roles and high contempo- rary jobs that need doing by deacons). Rather, it is a serious attempt to restore the minister- ment against the dia- ial hierarchy in the Church as conate. Rather, it sup- the apostolic founders in- ports the argument "that tended. no reason why such men should -- not take advantage of it -- and thus receive the graces for the performance of their work through the sacramental means of ordination. Furthermore, the fact that laity either l/ are now doing or can do most of what will in the future be done by deacons is no argu- such office-bearers ought to be given that ecclesi- astical and . . . sacra- mental ordination which exists or existed in the Church precisely for that office." Finally, Pope Paul V1 on June 18, 1967. stated, "Al- though some functions of the deacons, especially in mission- ary countries, are in fact accustomed to be entrusted to laymen, it is never- theless beneficial to those who per- form a truly diaconal ministry to be strengthened by the imposition of hands, a tradition going back to the Apostles. and be more closely joined to the altar so that they may more ef- fectively carry out (heir ministry through "the sacramental grace of the diaconate." The second reason -- the desire to "strengthen the various diaconal ministries . . . with the sacramental grace of the diaconate" -- is equally important. As Karl Rahner remarks, it is a "governing principle" that "when the office anti the divine assurance of the grace necessary for fulfilling the office (:an be given in a sacramental manner.., they should be given in this manner." Father Rahner and others note that some diaconal functions are now being performed in the Church by laity and have been for some time. We might call these people "anonymous deacons" who have to- tally committed themselves as Christians to the service of others. Since the possibility of ordina- tion to the diaconate exists, there is Next week: Deacons and priests :on Wilkerson: We are here to serve the Church, its members Ed Wilkerson 2155 Bellemeade Evansville, IN 47714 (812) 476-4347 Pastoral Associate Good Shepherd Church, Evansville. Deacon Ed and Kathy Wilkerson will celebrate their twenty-third wedding anniversary in September. They have three daughters. Kathy Wilkerson works at Gentlecare Nursing Home, where she is the Activity Director and Social Service Director. Their daughter Michele works for the Rehabilitation Center as an assistant manager of a group home for physically and mentally challenged teenagers. Kristal will begin her second year at Indiana University this fall and Erin recently graduate from Good Shepherd School and will attend Memorial High School this fall. Deacon Wilkerson was born Sept. 2, 1949, and ordained a deacon Oct. 4, 1985. Describe your ministry as a deacon: As Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education at Good Shepherd, I am involved in all aspects of parish life. your most challenging moment as a deacon: When my sister-in-law died, I was called to the hospital, not only as a relative, but as a minister. Praying with the family, planning the funeral, and presiding at the memorial service and funeral was very challenging. I was able to experience the Rite of Christian Funerals as w ell as lead people through it. It was a very moving experience. Describe your most rewarding moment as deacon: On several occasions, I have worked with people who have been away from the Church because of a previous marriage and divorce. It is very rewarding to help them through the an- nuhnent process, get them re-involved, and have their present marriage blessed in Church. How do you manage job or career and the demands of the ministry? As a full-time minister, my job is my ministry. It is easv to become over-involved in serving the Church and the parish- ioners. I try to keep enough time for my family and for myself even if I have to schedule it weeks in advance. What is it you would most want people to know about the ministry of a permanent deacon? Deacons are here to serve the Church and its members. I would hope that people would be comfortable enough to ap- proach a deacon with any problem, question or concern. If we do not know the answer or can't solve the problem, we can ..... find someone who can. Deacon Sturgis: Complementing the pastor, not replacing him Joseph V. Sturgis 203 Queen Street Loogootee, IN 47553 (812) 295-3315 pation: Comptroller, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, Ind. Deacon at St. John Church, Loogootee. Deacon Joseph and Theresa Sturgis have three married children, Joe Jr., Mary and Kathleen. and eight grandchildren. Deacon Sturgis was born Feb. 27, 1933, and ordained a deacon May 14.1978. STURGIS Describe your ministry as a deacon: Over the years, I have served in various areas. I have taught CCD classes, given marriage instructions, counseled people. During Lent. daily ('ommunion services and Stations of the Cross on Sundays. I have baptized and conducted wake services. On a case basis, I [aave functioned as all advocate for the Tribunal Office on nmrriage cases. At work. I am often called upon to give invocations and benedictions for various activities. I preach once a month and I am involved with the parish synod process. Describe your most challenging moment as a deacon: Counseling and advisingan individual concerning their marriage problems. Describe your most rewarding moment as deacon: Having people tell me they appreciate my preaching of "the word of God" and they get something out of it, How do you manage job or career and the demands of the ministry? Working a full time job and having to travel at times in con- nection with it, limits: the amount of time I can devote to my .. ministry. When I became a deacon, our priorities were set for us: family first, job second, diaconate third. With the support and understanding of my wife and family and pastors, I have been able to accommodate both areas. What is it you would most want people to know about the ministry of a permanent deacon? He is not a priest, tte is there to complement the pa.,tor, but not to replace him. A deacon wants to serve the people of God. He is human and will make mistakes. Because 0ftlat. re- member us in your prayers once in a while.