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August 23, 1996     The Message
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August 23, 1996

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3 August 23, 1996 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana ' am I III III II I Deacons would advise others to pursue diaconate, study says By MARK PATTISON Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A two-year national study of U.S. permanent deacons finds that "the vast majority of deacons themselves said they were ready to advise others to pursue this ministry." And according to the study, deacons' wives and supervisors and the lay leaders in the parishes to which they were as- signed, "corroborated the dea- cons' judgment that their min- istry and their diaconal responsibilities have been com- plementary rather than com- petitive." The central finding was that since the diaconate was restored in 1967, it has been "successful and increasingly important for the life of the church." A summary version of"A Na- tional Study on the Permanent Diaconate of the Catholic Church in the United States" was issued last December. The full report Was released in August by the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for the Diaconate. The study consisted of four separate surveys which gar- nered responses from 5,369 dea- Cons, 1,194 wives, 600 parish COuncil leaders, and 533 priest supervisors. It expands upon a 1981 survey of deacons commis- sioned by the bishops. Supervisors, the new study said, "rate deacons as most suc- cessful in the more familiar and traditional liturgical and sacra- mental roles." By a 5-4 margin, supervisors said they did not think the deacons' ministries could be "performed equally well by a layperson without ordina- tion." "The vast majority of supervi- sors and lay leaders regard their deacons as clearly necessary, judge them effective in their ministries, and find them satis- factorily trained," the study said. About a dozen supervisors and about 20 lay leaders said that in the future they expected "recon- struction" of the sacrament of or- ders based upon experience with ttie diaconate, the study said. Such changes, they said, could include the priestly ordination of deacons and the admission of women into the diaconate, as well as more deacon-led parishes in light of shrinking priest num- bers. Currently, the study said, "ex- cept for the theologically so- phisticated, it seems entirely natural that laity would view their deacons as either under- qualified priests or overqualified laity." Supervisors and lay leaders agree that there is "little regular catechesis" provided to parish- ioners on the role of the perma- nent diaconate. According to the study, dea- cons said they explored the dia- conate because "they were mo- tivated by the opportunity for a mostly local ecclesial ministry of service that might deepen their spiritual lives and give them a more powerful sense of purpose and place in life." Lay leaders see a great deal of collaboration between deacons and priests in their parishes, and generally hear deacons ex- press satisfaction with the level of collaboration. A plurality of lay leaders said deacons preach "somewhat fre- quently" at Mass, and judge dea- cons' homilies to be "about the same" in content and quality compared to priests' sermons. A majority of deacons rated their formation courses as ex- cellent or good, with the excep- tion of catechetics and counsel- ing, where a larger number judged them to be good or fair, and at least 12 percent saying such courses were not offered. And with the exception of a few documents of the Second Vatican Council, majorities or pluralities of deacons skid they were not familiar with a wide variety of church documents, in- cluding other Vatican II docu- ments, papal encyclicals and U.S. bishops' pastoral letters. Deacons rated the Mass, prayer/meditation and "my wife/family" as being the three experiences that "most energize" their spiritual lives. Deacons of the Diocese of Evansville Joseph V. Blankenberger St. Werldel ChurChl St, Wendel James Cavera St. Mary Church, Evansville Lancaster Dow Jr. Not currently assigned Gilbert Fehrenbacher :St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County David Franklin Corpus Christi Church, Evansville Richard Grannan St. Agnes Church, Evansville Gerald D. McFall On medical leave Michael Morris St. Simon Church, Washington Richard Preske Holy Rosary Church, Evansville Joseph G. Schapker Resurrection Church, Evansville Joseph Seibert St. John Church, Newburgh Donald Haag Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Petersburg Charles Seifert Holy Family Churchi Jasper Stephen Hall Jr.  and Robert A. Hayden Not currently assigned Fran St. Thomas Church, Knox County Robert Thurgood, . Holy Rosary Church, Edward Wilkerson Only 1.3 percent of the dea- cons surveyed said "definitely no" when asked if they would recommend the diaconate to someone else, but 69.2 percent said "definitely yes" and 29.5 percent said "yes with reserva- tions." Nearly half of deacons' wives, 48.8 percent, said they were em- ployed outside the home and earning a salary. Two-thirds of the wives agreed or strongly agreed with the state- ment, "Sometimes I fel that some priests resent working with a married deacon." Close to two- thirds also agreed with the state- ment, "I sometimes think most laity do not really understand that deacons are not 'priest-as- sistants,' but ordained clergy in our church." But three-fourths of the wives agreed that their own sense of the church's mission had in- creased because of their hus- band's ordination. States with the most deacons as "of January 1995 are Texas with 987, Illinois with 955, and New York with 903, followed by New Jersey with 673 and Cali- fornia with 584. The District of Columbia has 199 deacons, more than 34 states. The first phases of the survey involved sending questionnaires to 9,000 of the 11,000 U.S. dea- cons. Of the 5,369 responses re- ceived, a random sample of 3,073 questionnaires was chosen. The margin of error for this first phase was plus or minus three percentage points. The next three surveys drew their sample from addresses the 5,369 deacon respondents gave for their wives, parish supervisors and parish councils. To ensure that African-Amer- icans, ttispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Eskimos and Aleuts were represented any deacon among the 5,369 respondents who was found to be of these cul- tures was included in the ran- dom sample. People we care about... Following is a feature in the Message, designed to help draw together the People of God in southwestern Indiana. Readers are invited to submit information about people who may ben- efit by some extra prayers and attention. * Mark Andrew Eppler was born July 11, weighing in at eight pounds, eight ounces. He is the son of Michael Eppier, diocesan director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, and his wife, Mariah (Siegel) Ep- pler. Please send information for PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT to Mary Ann Hughes, The Message, P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN47724. Stewardship by the Book In Sunday's reading, St. Paul reminds the Romans -- and us that all things come from God: "For from Him and through Him and for Him all things re. Good stewards understand that all is gift and share generously the gifts of time, talent and treasure with which they've been blessed. i i MUENSTERMAN'S FIRESTONE SERVICE, INC. 1400 W, Franklin Evansville, IN 424-5000 Golden Jubilarians Albert and Lucille (Matheis) Seger of Jasper celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanks. giving Aug. 18 at St. Raphael Church, Dubois. The couple was married Aug. 20, 1946, at St. Raphael Church. They are the parents of nine children: Liz Neukam, Sheila Collett, Randy Seger, Connie Leslie, Bruce Seger, Rese Kress, Bill Seger, Maureen Werne and Paula Knies, They have 24 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Mrs. Seger retired from the Greater Jasper School Corporation as an elemen- tary school teacher. Mr. Seger retired from Kimball lnteP national Inc. as a cross-country semi-truck driver, and from the Dubois County Jail where he worked as a part-time jailer.