From The Trenton Monitor:
Coming together as a brotherhood, deacons of the Diocese of Trenton were challenged by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to live up to the summons issued by Pope Francis on his recent trip to the United States.
“When the Pope met with us, he told us to focus our energies on two things – prayer and preaching,” said the Bishop. “So he laid it out there for us, our agenda.
“I want you to receive, to believe, to teach and practice. I want you to be a witness in your parish.”
165 permanent deacons, many accompanied by their wives, prayed, learned and celebrated together at the annual convocation held Oct. 23-24 in Plainsboro.
Deacon Don Ronning of Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park, said the convening was “very refreshing” and gave the brothers in the diaconate a chance to re-connect and celebrate their shared ministry while learning about the long-term planning efforts of the Diocese.
“We all work in different parishes and do different ministries, but we all feel a kinship with one another in the work that we do,” said Deacon Ronning. “We have a good time together, we learn, and we get to talk about ‘deacon stuff,’ which is nice.
“There’s a lot that people rely on us for, so the better equipped we are, the better off they are.”
In his address, Bishop O’Connell encouraged the deacons to heed the advice given by Pope Francis – to develop a strong life of prayer and to become effective teachers of the Gospel.
“Preaching,” the Bishop said, “is an issue that people cite all the time. [We] ask, why did you leave your parish, and they say ‘Because the preaching is lousy. Doesn’t hold my interest.’…Preaching is critically important. For me, as Bishop, it is the primary task.”
Photo: Joe Moore / The Trenton Monitor