Author of book on deacons: “Each of us is called to a vocation…”

Author of book on deacons: “Each of us is called to a vocation…” December 3, 2011

Over at the National Catholic Register, Kathryn Jean Lopez caught up with Elizabeth Fiococelli, author a book for children that I mentioned some weeks back, “Where Do Deacons Come From?”

Part of her interview:

Can adults learn as much as children from this book?

As with all my books for children, Where Do Deacons Come From? is written keeping in mind the parents or teachers that may be sharing the book with young people. I, myself, learned new things about the diaconate, as I did with each book in this vocations series.

So, what do you want everyone to know about the diaconate?

My hope is that readers of all ages will come away with a greater appreciation for the important role that deacons play in the Church. Deacons have a long list of responsibilities, including assisting at Mass, proclaiming the Gospel, preaching homilies, performing baptisms, presiding at marriages and funerals, visiting the sick, serving the poor, doing sacramental preparation and much more. And most deacons do this while balancing a family and full-time work.

Do you know a lot of deacons?

I continue to meet more and more deacons through various ministries my family serves. In addition to the four deacons associated with my own parish, I’ve gotten to know deacons through scouting, Marriage Encounter, Catholic radio and athletics. Truthfully, I don’t really tend to ask them about their professional lives, but I do know deacons who are school-bus drivers, uranium-plant employees and chefs.

Did you test the book on any children?

Every book I write for young people must first pass inspection with my four boys. After that, I will try and get a few youngsters to read it. This particular book had several sets of deacon eyes on it to make sure every detail was correct

Is there something about lay leadership in the New Evangelization that is at the heart of your children’s series? Are you taking some educational leadership?

Each of us is called to a vocation, whether it be married life, single life or religious life (In the case of married deacons, they have two vocations!). I firmly believe it is our job as Catholic parents to plant the seeds of vocation awareness in our children’s hearts and minds at a young age. To do that, we need resources and tools to educate ourselves in the process. I hope my vocation series will be regarded as one of those tools. The way I see it, Catholic families are the spawning ground for new vocations and for the future of our Church — so let’s make it fruitful!

To answer your second question, while I haven’t been taking formal educational leadership training, I continually educate myself in the faith through books, conferences and Catholic media.

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15 responses to “Author of book on deacons: “Each of us is called to a vocation…””

  1. “Truthfully, I don’t really tend to ask them about their professional lives, but I do know deacons who are school-bus drivers, uranium-plant employees and chefs”

    Hmmm. Let me add the secular occupations of twenty I do/did know.
    –Deacon A: vending machine serviceman.
    –Deacon B: insurance agent
    –Deacon C: community organizer
    –Deacon D(1): electrical engineer
    –Deacon D(2): state highway patrolman
    –Dean G: foreman at a quarry
    –Deacon J(1): industrial systems engineer
    –Deacon J(2): dairy farmer
    –Deacon J(3): NPO development director
    –Deacon J(4) lawyer
    –Deacon K: heating/air-conditioning technician
    –Deacon L(1): cost accountant
    –Deacon L(2): insurance salesman
    –Deacon M: industrial safety trainer
    –Deacon N: community college dean
    –Deacon R: autoworker and UAW “Line-Chaplain.
    –Deacon T(1): industrial chemist
    –Deacon T(2); auto-body technician
    –Deacon T(3): licensed professional counselor
    –Deacon T(4): commercial painter

  2. The cover illustration of this book is of a deacon baptizing using his left hand. I think a Catholic publishing house would have known to have the deacon use his right hand to baptize.

  3. Hey, Phyllis,
    Which hand is used is not a matter of canonical, sacramental or liturgical significance.

    God bless,

  4. There is a great deal of diversity in our deacon community; it includes some PhD’s, and also some gentlemen without a lot of formal education. The spread is about as varied as your list. I’m hoping we retain this variety as we go forward. There seems to be a push towards more academically oriented programs, which isn’t a bad thing. But the diaconate at its best isn’t an ivory tower.

  5. Customarily, blessings and all else are to be imparted right-handed–and so photos and illustrations show right-handed baptisms. I doubt you will be able to find a left-handed one. In several areas of the world, there are cultural prohibitions against using the left hand for anything at all, so the universal church usually complies with right-handed preferences so as not to offend.

  6. It is quite possible that the original picture had the deacon baptizing with his right hand and it was flipped horizontally. No kidding, I have see many paintings that are reproduced in books and have been reversed in that way.

    P.S. When I flipped a copy of the cover picture horizontally, I noticed that the eye is directed toward the parents who are now on the right. Since this is a book about deacons, it would seem to be better for the eye be directed toward the deacon. Well, maybe it is just a mistake on the part of the artist.

    (Can’t believe I wrote the above extraneous comments. I need a break. It’s five o’clock somewhere.)

  7. HMS —

    I agree with you! We have descended into the quagmire of minutiae! LOL!

    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  8. Melody:
    I could not agree with you more. The largest pastoral need in my area are deacons who are bi-lingual/bi-cultural/Anglo-Hispanic. Our problem is that the higher academic standards spelled out in the current Vatican norms for the formation of diaconal candidates scare the lesser-educated among the Hispanic community from even applying. In our wider political area of maybe 60k total population (14k Roman Catholics) I know of THREE bi-lingual/bi-cultural/Anglo-Hispanic laymen who are active Roman Catholics and have baccalaureate degrees.

  9. My original comment stands. A Catholic publishing house would not use such an image, because it would know what the church universal knows: the use of the left hand is highly offensive in many cultures.

  10. My (Orthodox Jewish) primary care physician recently hired an office manager who is a permanent deacon. And of course, our parish’s wonderful Deacon Greg: “serves as the Executive Editor of ONE, the acclaimed magazine published by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).”

  11. I think that it is a good initiative to have an author targeting younger audiences showing permanent diaconate as a vocation they can aspire to. Kudos to Elizabeth Fiococelli!

    As for the discussion on the cover illustration, I see Dr. Zagano’s point and understand what she says. Having Indian friends I know that touch in general with the left hand in India is offensive. Maybe in Western culture using the left hand might not be a problem. Still, the question that comes to my mind is what happens to deacons in places like India that -either due to an accident or for some other medical condition- can’t use the right hand? Will they be prevented from baptizing?

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