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Friday, December 21, 2007

Bishop to Ordain 35 Permanent Deacons

From the "Catholic East Texas" Newspaper

(comments mine)

TYLER – Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, will ordain 35 men to the permanent diaconate at four Masses this month.

The group ordinations will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Dec. 8 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler, Dec. 15 at St. Mary Church in Longview, Dec. 22 at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches and Dec. 29 at Sacred Heart Church in Texarkana.

The men to be ordained represent 23 churches in the Diocese of Tyler and, after ordination, will bring the number of permanent deacons working in the diocese to 88.

Felix Ramos, slated for ordination Dec. 22, will be ordained for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. His archdiocese did not have a deacon formation program active at the time he wished to begin formation, so he was given permission to join the Diocese of Tyler’s program, according to Deacon Rubén Natera, vice chancellor for the Tyler Diocese.

Scheduled to be ordained Dec. 8 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception are:

Tyler – Shaun Black, Rufino Cortes, Steve Curry and Jack Rounds, cathedral; Remigio Alfaro and José Angel Tiscareno, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church;

Canton – Jonathan Ben Fadely and Alan Stehsel, St. Therese Church;

Crockett – Ramiro Romo, St. Francis of the Tejas Church.

Flint – Clarence Black, St. Mary Magdalene Church;

Gun Barrel City – Juan A. Cázares, St. Jude Church;

Lindale – Dennis King, Holy Family Church;

Mineola – Fidencio Ramos, St. Peter the Apostle Church;

Scheduled for ordination Dec. 15 in Longview are:

Gilmer – Ricky Yelverton, St. Francis of Assisi Church;

Hallsville – Robert William Rhodes and Gregorio Sanchez, Our Lady of Grace Church;

Kilgore – Lino Huerta and Isidro Sanchez, Christ the King Church;

Longview – Scott Daniel, Joel Gonzalez, Francisco Lopez and Nelson Petzold, St. Matthew Church; Vincent James Wilson, St. Mary Church;

Marshall – Magdaleno Aguirre and John Sargent, St. Joseph Church.

Through their ordination, deacons are configured expressly to Christ the servant and are called to be ministers of service and charity.

“The diaconal ministry is rooted in the Bible,” said Father Eduardo Nevares, assistant director of the vocations office. “In the Acts of the Apostles, because the apostles, the first bishops, were so overwhelmed with trying to administer their growing churches, they chose seven men from the community to care for the widows who were being neglected (Acts 6:1-7). So from the very beginning, the deacons were ordained to serve those in need in their communities.” (or actually assisting with the administration in general, allowing the Bishops to "minister to the Word")

Father Nevares said that particular charism manifests itself in the role and life of the deacon.

“Deacons are ordained clergy,” he said, “and, together with priests and bishops, they complete what the Patristic Fathers refer to as the ‘fullness of the church hierarchy,’ or the fullness of holy orders. They are not ‘substitute priests,’ but neither are they ‘glorified altar boys.’ They are ordained ministers, sharing in the Sacrament of Holy Orders with bishops and priests, but they have their own unique vocation, which neither priest nor bishop can or should fulfill.” (keep in mind that every Priest and every Bishop are ordained Deacons, so this statement, while well intended, is a bit erroneous. Every Priest and Bishop CAN and DOES fulfill the role of Christ the Servant. However, I believe I understand what Father Nevares is saying - the Diaconate is a vocation in and of itself, unique ministerially, and distinct as it relates to the presbyterate and the episcopate.)

Liturgically, deacons can perform weddings and baptisms and preside at funeral services outside of Mass. They can preach and teach and lead prayer services. They are, however, restricted from consecrating the Eucharist, anointing the sick or hearing confessions.

At Mass, deacons are ministers of the cup and of the word, proclaiming the Gospel and distributing the Blood of Christ (Deacons are Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, so they can also distribute the Body of Christ). Beyond the church, out in the world, deacons also are called to be ministers of the word, Father Nevares said, proclaiming the Gospel not in reading it, but in living it.

“The deacon is a witness,” Father Nevares said. “Through his marriage, through his family life, through his job, through his care and concern for the people around him, through what he does much more than what he says, the deacon is a witness to Christ the servant, Christ who brings comfort and compassion, Christ who cares for the poor and the suffering.

“Therefore,” Father Nevares said, “the deacon has the responsibility and the obligation to know his community, to know what problems and needs beset that community, and to know what resources are available in the community for people in need. Because the deacon comes out of a particular community, he knows that community with all its history, all its good and bad, as a priest probably never will ("As a Priest probably never will" - say what? I really must protest this idea that Priests live in an ivory tower and have no idea what is going on in the community, in the lives of the common folk. Priests today are very aware of what is going on in their communities, perhaps moreso than most Deacons). And he naturally(?) knows who in his community is most in need of the service of charity. The deacon must be the face of the church’s charity, which is Christ’s charity. It is the deacon who takes Christ’s charity into the world.”

Deacons serve many roles. In the Diocese of Tyler, deacons have long been active in prison and hospital ministry, and in such ministries as St. Vincent de Paul. At the chancery, Deacon Rubén Natera is vice chancellor, Deacon Rick Lawrence is director of discipleship, and Deacon Jerry Besze is co-director of family life with his wife Mary.

In the end, though, job titles and descriptions have nothing to do with the diaconate.

“The only real job description the deacon has is in the Bible,” Father Nevares said, “in Matthew’s Gospel: ‘Whatever you did for the least among you, you have done for me.’ Take care of and love the people of God; that’s what a deacon does.”


Father Schnippel said...

Because the deacon comes out of a particular community, he knows that community with all its history, all its good and bad, as a priest probably never will

If the priest spends time in the confessional, makes it a priority, and truly encourages his people to go, he will know that community better than a deacon ever could.

Brad Watkins said...

Amen! I was talking to someone else about this article today, and I made a similar comment. The reality is that a married Permanent Deacon has to think about his family, his job, and what ever particular ministry he is directly involved with at the moment. The idea that a deacon somehow knows more of what is going on within a church community is laughable. Father, your point is also an excellent one - the priest has an understanding of the community that the rest of us never will - from the confessional!

A Simple Sinner said...

Maybe the thinking on the "knowing the community better than the priest" was intended to mean that deacons will have been lifelong members of a parish whereas in some diocese, priests get transferred every few years...?

Just a thought.

I have been working on a post over at Per Christum on deacons. We have 16.6K+ of them in the US alone, with 3K+ in various stages of training and candidacy for diaconal ordination according to CARA, yet most Catholics, I have found, are hard pressed to really explain who these men are.

I don't think we have even begun to tap into this ministry!

Brad Watkins said...

Yes, a Deacon that is at a parish for a long time will certainly know a good bit of the history, but any parish Priest with a little bit of time will know that history too. My criticism was of the statement that a Deacon would know the church "as a Priest probably never will." That's a pretty strong statement. Priests come to know their people far mor intimately than Deacons ever will.

A Simple Sinner said...

Brad I can't say I disagree with you. Sort of playing devil's advocate - your point is valid.

I am just giving the benifit of the doubt that the author was intending to mean the deacon knows the lay of the land in a sense as a "lifer" at a parish. If I were a priest newly assigned to a rural or neighborhood parish, it would be a real blessing to have clergy (what deacons in fact are, lest we forget!) who can show the ins and outs and lay of the land.

Again, your point is totally valid.

deaconnecessary said...

I am a deacon in the parish that I grew up in. I know the people, the people's parents and the people's grandparents.

Priests have come to me to learn about the parish and it's people.