Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 31, 2010
Diaconate bears fruit in parish life
Deacons offer hard work, life experience to bolster ministries
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
The diaconate formation program, initiated in 2004 by Archbishop Thomas Collins, has been paying off dividends for several parishes in the Edmonton Archdiocese.
In 2008, 11 men, aged 45 to 62, were ordained permanent deacons and have now been serving their parishes for almost two years.
The deacons are making a positive impact on their respective parishes, serving in the threefold ministry of the Word, sacrament and charity. They read the Gospel, preach at the liturgies and officiate at various Church functions such as weddings and funeral vigils.
They are married men from a variety of backgrounds who worked in business, education, farming, civil service, or law enforcement. The commonality among them was their extensive ministry experience in the Church.
A second, much smaller crop of three men were to be ordained to the diaconate May 29 at St. Joseph's Basilica. Another group is halfway through its four-year formation process and yet another will begin in the fall.
In Fort Saskatchewan, Deacon Stan Kroetsch has been serving at Our Lady of the Angels Parish under Pallottine Father Francis Mariappa.
"There's so much to do in our parishes; without deacons it would be difficult," Mariappa said.
Kroetsch, a retired sales rep and past director of John Paul II Bible School, is a good man, understanding and cooperative, said his pastor. He does whatever is expected of him, helping with weddings, funerals, Baptisms and the RCIA program.
Another Fort Saskatchewan parishioner, Bill Bell, is among the three being ordained May 29. Mariappa said a man considering the diaconate must discern whether to heed the call.
"For deacons, the discernment process is very important. Once the discernment is made, it takes sincerity of heart, openness, frankness and going for further studies," he said.
Jose Huezo, from Edmonton, a mechanical/metallurgical technologist was ordained a deacon in 2008 and now serves at St. John Bosco Parish under Salesian Father Romano Venturelli.
"He's able to do lay-led liturgies and he's able to do weddings if Father Romano is out of town," said Mia Turlock, a pastoral assistant at St. John Bosco Parish.
"He does some Baptisms for us, so it takes a load off Father Romano, especially when he's on vacation. He's helped us with our RCIA program this year," Turlock said.
"It's a huge help for us, almost like having another priest around. Not too many churches have that."
The parishioners love Huezo because he is married and has four grown children.
When he gives his monthly homily, she said that the parishioners are able to connect with him in a way that might not be possible with a celibate priest, she said. "When he gives his homily, we all know where he's coming from."
"He is married with a nice wife (Victoria), and we all know the family, so it's kind of nice that he's able to relate some of his own stories to us. He can share some of the things he's had to go through to reach the point where he's at right now," she said.
Turlock hopes more men will be encouraged to become deacons. "We love having him. He's added a whole new dimension to our church."
Another beloved deacon in the parishes he serves is Deacon Don Logan. A father of two grown daughters, he serves in the Sturgeon region of the archdiocese - which includes the parishes at Villeneuve, Calahoo, Riviere Qui Barre and Mearns - where Father Tesfu Kelati is the pastor.
"We have four small rural parishes, and I find that to have the deacon is an amazing help to our priest," said Perry Kieftenbeld, pastoral assistant and youth minister.
"Deacon Don has a gift with his homilies. He does really, really awesome things when he says his homilies and it touches a lot of people," said Kieftenbeld.
"That's another way of bringing people back to the Church because that's where you see the fallen-away people - at Baptisms and weddings."
She said it's great to see somebody else at the altar with the priest, and having two men instead of one assisting the altar servers, usually children, is helpful.
"There's a little bit we have to teach our unpractising parishioners what a deacon is because they think that because he's wearing a collar he must be a priest, right?
"People are thinking we can use these guys as a priest, which we aren't and we can't," said Kieftenbeld.
The Sturgeon region parishes expect to have a second deacon two years from now, she said. A second parishioner, Charles Ryan, is now in the diaconate formation program.
Other parishes with permanent deacons include:
In Edmonton: St. Joseph's Basilica, Good Shepherd and Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Outside Edmonton: Camrose, Lloydminster, Olds, Rocky Mountain House, Trochu, Vermilion and Wetaskiwin.
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