Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 9, 2004
Diaconate program head chosen
Former principal has already received 22 submissions
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Ron Woytiuk barely had time to finish renovating his Devon-area home after his retirement when he answered the call to become director of the archdiocese's inaugural permanent diaconate program.
"I retired last year after 33 years as a teacher and administrator in the Edmonton Catholic school system - including the last seven as principal of St. Joseph High School," said Woytiuk, 57.
"I'm certainly excited about what it brings to each parish and to the individuals themselves who have chosen to offer to serve in this way."
Through his own parish - Our Lady of Mercy at Enoch - and other parishes he has seen that parishes don't have the personnel to serve the needs of the people. "They are absolutely strapped by the responsibilities."
For a time, Woytiuk discerned a vocation to the priesthood. He enrolled at Newman Theological College straight out of high school.
"I attended the college for 3 1/2 years. But the point came when I decided I may not have a vocation to the priesthood. But I felt determined that education was a possibility. And I had a wonderful 33 years as an educator."
Woytiuk believes the permanent diaconate is necessary, with its long history in the Church going back to the Acts of the Apostles. He also has some roots in the Eastern Church where deacons had a prominent history and position in the Church over the years.
"I think it's a wonderful complement to the role the priest has in the parish," he said. "The opportunity for people who are interested to serve is certainly a powerful one. I think it can be developed into a very effective support for the priests."
As of Feb. 2, there were 22 applications on Woytiuk's desk. Ideally, he would like to see 15 men ready to commence the program in September 2004.
The deadline for applications was Jan. 31 but Woytiuk thinks he may extend it slightly.
A selection process is already established to pick the men who will enter the program. A selection committee that includes several priests and others in the archdiocese will review the applications. The formal application submission is only one piece. Certain interviews must occur, such as a scrutiny interview, a deacon perceiver interview, and a home visitation with the candidate and spouse if he is married.
"The archbishop has been very up front that the responsibility and commitment has to be to the family first, career second and the diaconate third," Woytiuk said.
Submissions have come from across the archdiocese including Fort Saskatchewan, Red Deer and Lloydminster. Such a spread is something Woytiuk finds encouraging.
"If four applicants were all from Edmonton and from the same parish, for example, that would be a problem because there would have to be a selection and perhaps eliminate an applicant."
Part of launching the program is to secure accommodation for the candidates. Woytiuk will call Star of the North and the Providence Centre to book physical space for the weekends.
He is looking at a 10-month per year program where the candidates will commit one weekend per month. In total, that's 40 weekends.
"Obviously, the seminary can't accommodate 15 more people for a weekend. It has to be a live-in situation with lodging and meals."
However, present staff at Newman College will likely provide the training.
Woytiuk's tenure as director also has no guarantees.
"I'll do whatever I can during the time I am here and make it as positive as possible," Woytiuk said.
His wife, Peggy, is a physiotherapist with Capital Health. They have three adult children.