I was delighted to find the shiny new incarnation of Deacon Digest online earlier today — with Galveston-Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, current president of the USCCB, noting of the restored diaconate’s 50th anniversary:
After 50 years, the presence of deacons in our parishes, Church institutions, educational works and justice and peace ministries is no longer a novelty. In an archdiocese like my own, in fact, that presence is an expectation.
Because their work and activity is so varied, and because that work rests on a distinctive “deacon” identity, those who are deacons need a human, pastoral, academic and spiritual formation. They need a confidence born from a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus, disciplined by theology and knowledge of the faith of the Church in Jesus Christ, training in preaching and practical skills, and a human face that reflects well and wisely the face of Jesus. The human face of the deacon is a bridge, not an obstacle, to his servant leadership.
I can speak from experience in my own local Church of the excellent work of our permanent deacons, more than 400 in number. They certainly are represented in our parishes, where they are involved in liturgical life and preaching, in their care for the bereaved and their presence at wake services, their catechetical endeavors in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and in some cases their full-time work as parish administrators and finance initiatives, and in their dedicated work (frequently with their wives) in the preparation of couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony.They particularly have been involved in hospital visitation and chaplaincy at medical facilities. I am especially proud of their work in prisons and in ministries for those just released from incarceration. They are involved in a number of social-justice programs, pro-life groups and ecumenical collaborations. In our archdiocese, the tagline for deacons is their “availability.” They also work in teams to prepare candidates for the diaconate and act as mentors for those in formation. The deacons collaborate with the bishop and the priests in exercising a wisdom service — in liturgy, in word and in charity — to build up the Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit. The diaconate indeed has become a beautiful manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church in this country.
…The deacon’s life witnesses and proclaims the Gospel. The deacon pours out his life, like Christ the Servant, as a living chalice of charity, emptied out for others and filled with the Lord Jesus.