I will be taking off later today for Minneapolis to attend the National Association of Deacon Directors annual convention. One of the several responsibilities I have been given by my bishop is that of Assistant Director of Deacon Personnel, and so I need to attend this gathering of directors from all around the United States and Canada. There will be ample time for networking with men seen only once a year at this event, and for learning valuable tips on doing my job. I met some wonderful men last year and hope this year is no different.
The weather outside here in Minnesota has turned wintry once again. Snowing at the moment! I had hoped I could turn the furnace off for the year.
I have been reading and re-reading the book, “Living With Hope,” by the late Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. Martini was the rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome during the years I studied there, and later was ordained a bishop and became archbishop of Milan, Italy. He was a Jesuit, of course, and a scholar of the Scriptures. Many good things could be said of him. I shared recently a quote from his book with the diaconate community of Winona, and I would like to share it with you my readers:
“O Lord, I thank you because I don’t need to be accepted by others; you yourself defend my cause, you yourself sustain me. I can take pride in my poverty, like St. Paul; I can take pride in my being a not too competent, not too influential person, often slower than my brothers, because you are with me and my cause is your cause. I thank you Lord because you grant me to live my life in service of my brothers, in a real relationship with you. You have revealed this aspect of freedom in my life; nothing is useless because everything is a dialogue with you.”
I have heard from many deacons of the frustration and pain that comes with diaconal ministry and at times a diminished respect offered to deacons. I have also become convinced that an essential aspect of diaconal ministry is a spiritual martyrdom through our identification with the proclamation of the Gospel and with the poor and marginalized. Anytime we so identify ourselves, especially in today’s secular culture but even, dare I say, in today’s ecclesial culture, we will share in the diminished respect that is unfortunately experienced by the poor and powerless. Such is our calling, it would seem.
I would encourage all of us, especially we deacons, to support each other as we demonstrate to our parishes, dioceses, and indeed society as a whole, the vitality and necessity of the diaconate and the splendid manner in which the Holy Spirit is working through us.
I also read with delight an article from Allentown, Pennsylvania about 47 men to be ordained to the diaconate this Saturday. You can read it at: www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-catholic-deacons-20150420-story.html The number delights me, although I have to admit the ages of the candidates (most in their late 50s and 60s) is interesting. Where are all the young men?
I will post a few updates from NADD the rest of this week.