Permanent Deacons are the ones who will lead the Church in the New Evangelization.
That was the message from Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano as he addressed the annual Diocesan DiaconateConvocation in Douglaston. The April 15 meeting at the Immaculate Conception Center was a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the permanent diaconate to the Brooklyn Diocese and the 50th anniversary of the revival of the Order by the Second Vatican Council.
About 140 deacons from Brooklyn and Queens attended. They were joined by spouses and friends to comprise a congregation of about 250.
“The future of the Church is all about building bridges that will last for eternity,” said Bishop Caggiano. “We need to rediscover the missionary spirit, go out to the peripheries, and evangelize one person at a time.
“The deacons are going to lead the charge in figuring out how to do that.”Bishop Caggiano said that deacons have an advantage over priests and bishops because they work secular jobs and are closer to people, who increasingly are becoming disaffiliated with the Church.
“They will come to you before they come to me,” he said. “Deacons can make the Church more credible.”
When people have questions about the Church, they must be allowed to ask them, he explained.
“Too many people have problems with the Church. When their questions are not answered, they will walk away. Allow questions. You have to allow people to ask questions that have been burning in their hearts,” he said.
Like all bridges, the New Evangelization must be built on a strong foundation, he told the deacons. The Church’s foundation is “all about encountering the Lord Jesus.”
Deacons must allow their lives to be “transparent reflections of the life of Jesus Christ,” he said.
In order to do, he urged the men to “preach the kerygma – Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. Preach the truth. Preach with power.”
Reminding the men that the deacon’s role is basically one of service, he exhorted that when they encounter someone who is down and out, don’t just offer a handout.
“Get on your knees and pick him up,” said Bishop Caggiano. “That is at the heart of the ministry of the diaconate.”