Several weeks ago, I wrote about my memorable visit to Denver, where I got to meet a few luminaries in the local church. Now Deacon Keith Fournier has reported on his visit there, and posted a speech delivered recently by Deacon Joseph Donohoe, the Director of Deacon Personnel for the Archdiocese of Denver, outlining developments in the diaconate therer. A snip below:
A renewed emphasis has been placed on Deacons to study scripture and know the Gospels intimately, so that when we teach and when we preach, we speak from the heart of Jesus Christ who was obedient to God the Father, even unto death. Lumen Gentium also tells Clerics that we are “Bound! – to bring our hearts and minds” in accord with our vocation by our “constancy in prayer”.
The need for Deacons to be contemplative is now reflected in the formation program where in the first year, men seeking the vocational call will be “dedicated” to contemplation and deep discernment. This is so important to the life of the Church, that our Archbishop has given us the gift of a full time Spiritual Director for men in formation. Father Dennis Brown, an OVM, who is well versed in spirituality and will help guide the men throughout their formation.
Also, to enhance our conversation with the Triune God, we have increased the number of silent retreats for active Deacons so that our souls may be refreshed and clear from all outside distractions during our retreat experience. These retreats are designed to enable us to contemplate deeply on the word of God, and configure our lives to the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Deacon.
For as Pope Francis explained, “when we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are NOT Disciples of the lord. We are worldly.” As Deacons, we must be examples to others by carrying our cross with humility; otherwise, our words and deeds are empty. It is important for us to know, that the Deacon cross is marked with the martyr’s stole, requiring us to be witnesses even unto death, if necessary.
In consideration of these words, the Deacon Council has also established an Emmaus group similar to the Caritas group for Priests. This program enables Deacons to help each other in spiritual enlightenment and daily prayer. This year has also seen an increase in the Deacon’s ministry of charity; especially as it relates to the Archbishop’s ministry of service. In Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Letter, Ad Pascendum (a product of Lumen Gentium), it states “the Deacon is at the disposal of the Bishop in order that he (the Bishop) may serve the whole people of God.” It is this statement and our own ordination promises that call us to a radical availability to the mystery of Christ and to the service of the people of God.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, initiatives are underway to help Deacons seek out those situations where the Archbishop’s diaconal ministry is not being realized and to assist those who have been neglected and forgotten. And through the blessing of the Archbishop, dedicated Deacons, as servant leaders, are increasing their presence in the homeless shelters, work camps, prisons and hospitals, in coordination with Catholic Charities, Centro San Juan Diego and the Deaneries. Deacons continue to be present in nursing homes, hospices, and assist living facilities, bringing Christ to homeless, the poor, the elderly and the dying allowing them to have solace and peace in their lives and to give comfort to their family and friends.