Evangelizing, caring for others at core of deacons' vocation, nuncio says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Peter Finney Jr., Clarion Herald

By Peter Finney Jr.

ORLEANS (CNS) — The core vocational work of permanent deacons is to evangelize
and care for others, not to perform office duties, the apostolic nuncio to the United States said July 22 to more than 1,300 deacons
attending the 2018 National Diaconate Congress in New Orleans.

his post-Communion remarks at the opening Mass of the five-day gathering,
Archbishop Christophe
Pierre noted that St. John Paul II had declared that the “service of
diaconal ministry finds its identity in evangelization.”

“Not (in)
doing office work,” but in “evangelizing,” Archbishop Pierre said.

opening Mass was celebrated in a ballroom holding 2,200 seats. Of the 18,500
permanent deacons in the U.S. — who represent more than half the worldwide
total — 1,300 permanent deacons were attending the July 22-26 conference,
along with their wives and children, for a record total of 2,800 attendees.

quite amazed to see so many deacons and wives of deacons,” the nuncio said, as
his message from the altar was displayed to the far reaches of the room on two
oversized video screens.

the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate in the Latin-rite church by Blessed Paul
VI through his 1968 “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) titled “Sacrum
Diaconatus Ordinem,” Archbishop Pierre lauded the permanent deacons for their
humble service of charity, proclaiming the word and leading the faith community
in prayer.

echoed Pope Francis’ remarks that defined permanent deacons as “pioneers of the
new civilization of love.”

is Christ’s call, isn’t it?” Archbishop Pierre asked. “Don’t forget, the job is
Jesus’. Otherwise, it is your job, your work, right? No. The work is Christ’s.
It is one thing to serve at the altar. It is another to be an evangelizing
force in the world.

my travels throughout the United States, I’ve seen how permanent deacons
continue to serve through their hard work and generous service.
Deacons have been able co-workers with their bishops, priests and laity in many
dimension of ecclesial life, especially the apostolate works.”

Pierre praised the deacons for their works, especially in hospital ministry. He also said the church as a whole must do more to prepare couples for marriage and to
enrich the marriages of those already married.

should invest more in marriage preparation,” he said.

Pierre offered the personal greetings of Pope Francis and said the permanent
diaconate has “flourished” in the last half-century,
“particularly here in the United States, where nearly 18,500 permanent
deacons carry out their threefold diaconal ‘munera’ of word, charity and

asked the deacons and their wives to reflect on the words of dismissal at Mass,
often spoken by the deacon — “Go forth, the Mass is ended”; “Go and announce
the Gospel of the Lord”; “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”; “Go
in peace.”

the peace of Christ with all those you meet — your family first — your
friends and even your enemies,” Archbishop Pierre said. “Be instruments of the
gift of peace. Thank you and thanks be to God for you and your service to the
church and for all those who have supported you.”

his homily at the opening Mass, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond
stressed the deacon’s role in being the “conscience” of the church in
matters of service to the poor and disenfranchised.

Christians are called to charity by their baptism, but deacons lead us as a
church in the works of charity,” he said. “We look to you in some ways as the
conscience of the church. We ask you to find those who are in need and to invite
us to serve them. And when we forget them or fail to be people of charity as a
church, we ask you to be our conscience and to call us back to what God asks.”

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is executive editor/general manager of the Clarion Herald, newspaper of the
Archdiocese of New Orleans.

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