Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 7, 2008
Permanent deacons ordained in July
11 men in last stage of formation for new ministry in diocese
By GLEN ARGAN
"The deacon becomes a catalyst for works of charity or for lay ministries."
Woytiuk, retired principal of St. Joseph's High School, said he expects the establishment of the diaconate "will have a profound impact" on the archdiocese.
Permanent deacons have a ministry of Word, altar and charity. They read the Gospel, preach at the liturgies, officiate at weddings, Baptisms and funeral vigils, and perform a wide variety of works of charity.
"It's all volunteer. It's not a paid ministry," Woytiuk said.
"The word 'catalyst' comes up often. The deacon becomes a catalyst for works of charity or for lay ministries."
As an example, he spoke of one candidate for the diaconate who initiated a process to repair the home of a poor elderly woman.
Unlike priests who are transferred from parish to parish, the deacon tends to remain in his home parish indefinitely. When a new priest arrives, the deacon can be of great assistance in helping the pastor to get to know the people and the parish, Woytiuk said.
Priests coming from foreign countries, especially those whose first language is not English, face "a huge challenge," he said. The deacon can help ease that transition as well as on occasion giving the Sunday homily.
Key to the deacon's ministry is his wife.
The wives of the candidates were integrated into the formation process in the archdiocese, he said. The majority have attended all of the monthly formation weekends at Providence Renewal Centre. They have benefitted from hearing the presentations without having to complete all the assignments their husbands face.
"A wonderful community has been built through the four years among candidates and spouses. The journey has brought them much closer together - forged them together."
The person in ministry "can get swallowed" by all the demands on his time, Woytiuk said. But the wife serves both as a confidante and as someone who can draw the deacon back to his family responsibilities.
In Eastern Canada, some deacons have their wives run their schedules to ensure that a balance between home and ministry is maintained.
For the deacon, he said, family must come first, career second and ministry third.
The archdiocese expects that a deacon will put in eight to 10 hours a week of service. "For some individuals, it's going to be more," he said, while noting that others still have children in school.
For the archdiocese, understanding the role and ministry of the permanent deacon has just begun, he said. Until now, the Latin rite Church has not had married men ordained to ministry in this diocese. Nor has it seen what the deacon can accomplish.
Woytiuk said he has found it "a wonderful experience" to be part of the diaconate program.
Looking to the future, he is optimistic. "I wonder what it will be like in 10 years. Will we have 30 deacons? Will we have more?"
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