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Bishop Duca Reflects on Our Diocesan Stewardship Appeal

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Stewardship  Incredibly this May, Bishop Michael G. Duca  will mark his first decade as the second Ordinary of the Diocese of Shreveport. During his 10 years More »

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Bishop’s Reflection: Letting Go of “Mine” for the Glory of God’s Work

by Bishop Michael G. Duca Maybe the first surprise to new parents is that children are born wild – not tame. I don’t mean this in a bad sense, but our first More »

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Faith Partners for Progress: Catholics Charities of North Louisiana and Society of St. Vincent de Paul

by Bonnie Martinez  The Western District Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been awarded a $5,000 systemic change grant by the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent More »

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Pro-Life Events Evolving in 2018: An Interview with Bishop Michael G. Duca

by Jessica Rinaudo As the Diocese of Shreveport continues to support and champion pro-life efforts in 2018, Bishop Duca is planning to keep awareness of the issue at the forefront but now More »

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Discerning a Vocation in College

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian Some young men discover their calling to the priesthood in high school and decide to enter the seminary right after graduating from high school. However, More »

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Mike’s Meditations: Courageously Ask for God’s Opinion

by Mike Van Vranken Someone recently asked me what he could do differently for Lent. I suggested he think of a moral issue about which he’s always had a definite opinion, and More »

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Bishop’s January Reflection: Make Small Commitments for Big Changes

by Bishop Michael G. Duca As you receive this Catholic Connection, I suppose we are all well into our New Year’s resolutions. Changes are tricky things because we often have a strong More »

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Discerning a Vocation in High School

by Raney Johnson, Diocese of Shreveport Seminarian High school can be a fun but stressful time. Life can easily become consumed with classes, extracurricular activities, jobs and finding moments to spend time More »

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50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae

by John Parker On July 25th 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a brief but controversial document that shook the secular and ecclesial world. The document was Humanae Vitae, Of Human Life, and More »

Maddie Russo was Crowned as Loyola College Prep’s Queen

Maddie Russo was crowned as Loyola College Prep’s Queen during Homecoming ceremonies on Oct. 5 during halftime of the Flyers’ game against Sam Houston. Also on the Homecoming Court were Hannah Russell and Kelly Brice (Senior Maids), Madie Vlahakis and Lauren Norton (Junior Maids), Caroline Garceau and Aubry Sikes (Sophomore Maids) and Fer Rincon and Isabel Sarcar (Freshman Maids).

Carta Pastoral del Obispo Michael G. Duca

Queridos Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Hoy, 11 de Octubre del 2012, en conmemoración del 50 Aniversario de la instauración del Concilio Vaticano  y del 20 aniversario de la publicación del Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica, nuestro Santo Padre Benedicto XVI ha anunciado el comienzo de un Año de Fe por la Iglesia universal. En unidad con el Santo Padre, exhorto a  la Diócesis de Shreveport a unirse con todos los Católicos de todo el mundo en hacer este año un tiempo para despertar en nuestros corazones el deseo de profundizar nuestra fe en Jesus, la Luz del Mundo para que podamos estar orgullosos de esta fe con una convicción renovada, confiada y de esperanza.

Les pido que como diócesis nos comprometamos a hacer un esfuerzo espiritual de buscar renovar nuestra fe a través de la oración, el estudio y un compromiso renovado en la misión de la Iglesia de ser testimonios de la Buena Nueva de Jesucristo por medio de nuestras palabras y acciones.

Sabemos que el primer acto para llegar a la fe es posible solo por gracia de Dios. Con frecuencia en momentos personales de profunda oración es que somos tocados por la gracia de Dios, el corazón se transforma y decidimos confiar plenamente en Dios.

La oración entonces debe estar en el centro de nuestro Año de la Fe. Primera y principalmente nuestra renovación en la oración debe comenzar con una participación mas intencional en la celebración de la Eucaristía, que es la fuente de gracia para la Iglesia y el origen de la unidad en Cristo. Hagamos el compromiso este año de atender fielmente a la Misa Dominical poniendo en nuestra vida primeramente fe en Dios.

Este año debemos también renovar la práctica regular de la celebración del Sacramento de la Reconciliación. Si han visto con negligencia este sacramento sanador en su vida, durante el Año de la Fe hagan una buena confesión. Una apreciación renovada del Sacramento de Reconciliación será fundamental en nuestra transformación en Cristo.

Finalmente, busquen el tiempo para la oración personal en su vida y aprovechen las oportunidades de oración en comunidad que ofrecen la diócesis y su propia parroquia.

Si la oración es el primer fundamento de este Año de la Fe, entonces el segundo es luchar para incrementar nuestro conocimiento y entendimiento sobre las Escrituras y las enseñanzas de la Iglesia. En este año el Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica servirá como un instrumento importante y como un recurso valioso para aprender  acerca de nuestra fe Católica. También habrá oportunidades educacionales ofrecidas por las parroquias y por la diócesis. Busquen recursos de Iglesia confiables y competentes para responder a sus preguntas de fe y que su compromiso sea más profundo en las enseñanzas de Jesus y Su Iglesia.

En la carta de Nuestro Santo Padre, Porta Fidei, en la que llamó a este Año de la Fe, nos da una guía sobre el tercer enfoque para nuestra renovación espiritual este año. El papa Benedicto cita este verso de San Pablo, “El hombre cree con su corazón y así es justificado, y confiesa con sus labios y así es salvado.” (Rom 10:10) Nuestro Santo Padre nos recuerda que “al confesar con los labios” indica que la fe implica testimonio público. Un cristiano no debe pensar en creer solo como un acto privado. Así que nuestra meta final en este Año de Fe,  con corazones renovados por nuestra apertura a la gracia de Dios en oración y enriquecida a través de nuestro estudio, nos dará fuerza para ser testimonios de nuestra fe en nuestras vidas diarias y concretamente actuar para construir el Reino de Dios en nuestras familias, nuestras parroquias, nuestra comunidad, nuestro país y en nuestro mundo.

También quiero anunciar que durante este Año de la Fe voy a visitar cada parroquia para pasar una tarde de oración para orar juntos por el crecimiento de la fe, para pedir la guía de Dios en mi quinto año como su Obispo y para ver como podemos dar un mejor testimonio de nuestra fe en Jesucristo en la diócesis. Espero que estas reuniones de oración en cada parroquia ayudarán a hacer más firme nuestra relación con Cristo el Señor, ya que solo en Él hay certeza de ver hacia el futuro y la garantía de un amor auténtico y duradero.
Pido que nuestra fe este año sea renovada en oración, estudio y testimonio. Confiemos este tiempo de gracia a la Madre de Dios, proclamada “santísima porque ella creyó” (Lc. 1:45).

Sinceramente de ustedes en Cristo,

+Michael G. Duca
Obispo de Shreveport

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Michael G. Duca

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

October 11, 2012, commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Our Holy Father Benedict XVI has announced the beginning of a Year of Faith for the universal Church. In unity with the Holy Father, I call the Diocese of Shreveport to join Catholics throughout the world in making this year a time to arouse in our hearts the desire to deepen our faith in Jesus, the Light of the World, so we can embrace this faith with renewed conviction, confidence and hope.

I ask that as a diocese we commit ourselves to an intentional spiritual effort to seek a renewal of our faith through prayer, study and a renewed commitment to the Church’s mission to witness the Good News of Jesus Christ through our words and actions.
We know the first act by which one comes to faith is possible only with God’s grace. Often it is in deeply personal moments of prayer that we are moved by God’s grace, our hearts are transformed and we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God.

Prayer therefore must be at the center of our Year of Faith. First and foremost our renewal in prayer should begin with a more intentional participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is the fountain of grace for the Church and the source of our unity in Christ. Let us recommit ourselves this year to faithful attendance at Sunday Mass, putting our faith in God first in our lives.

This year we should also renew the practice of the regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you have neglected this healing sacrament in your life, during this Year of Faith make a good confession. A renewed appreciation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation will deepen our personal transformation in Christ. Finally make time for personal prayer in your life and take advantage of the opportunities of communal prayer offered by the diocese and your own parish.

If prayer is the first foundation for this Year of Faith, then the second is to strive to increase our knowledge and prayerful understanding of the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church.  In this year the Catechism of the Catholic Church will serve as an important tool in providing a valuable resource for learning about our Catholic faith. There will also be educational opportunities offered by the parish or the diocese. Seek trusted and competent Church resources to answer your questions of faith and to deepen your commitment to the teachings of Jesus and His Church.

In our Holy Father’s letter, Porta Fidei, in which he called for this Year of Faith, he gives us direction on the third focus for our spiritual renewal this year. Pope Benedict cites this verse from St. Paul, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.” (Rom 10:10) Our Holy Father reminds us “confessing with the lips” indicates that faith implies public testimony. A Christian may never think of belief as only a private act. So our final goal in this Year of Faith is that with hearts renewed by our opening to God’s grace in prayer and enriched through our study, we will be strengthened to witness our faith in our daily lives and concretely act to build up the Kingdom of God in our families, our parishes, our community, our country and in the world.

I also want to announce that during this Year of Faith I will visit each parish for an evening of prayer so we can pray together for an increase of faith, to ask God’s guidance in my fifth year as your Bishop and to consider how we might better witness our faith in Jesus Christ within the diocese. I hope these gatherings of prayer in each church will make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.
I pray that our faith this year will be renewed in prayer, study and witness.  Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45).

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Michael G. Duca
Bishop of Shreveport

Visit Your Local Catholic Pumpkin Patch

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October brings a stunning spray of orange that covers the lawn of Mary, Queen of Peace in South Bossier. The parishioners of Mary, Queen of Peace, under the leadership of Deacon Michael Straub, are hosting the 2nd Annual Pumpkin Patch in an effort to support the church’s various youth programs. Fellowship abounds as community members pile in and peruse the patch for that perfect, picturesque pumpkin. Please consider visiting our patch if it’s a pumpkin you are pondering. We are located five miles south of the Jimmie Davis Highway in Bossier City. We would love to help you and appreciate your helping our youth! We will be in place for the duration of October, even through Halloween evening.

And, don’t forget our Pumpkin Patch Carnival on Saturday, Oct. 27th from 5p to 8p. Only $3 admission for all the trunk or treating and gaming playing they can stand! Also, we will have burgers and hot dogs, and cotton candy and other goodies! Oh, you can also have a chance to “dunk the deacon” as well as others in our dunking booth. Come join us for the annual fun and don’t forget to wear your costumes!

Blessing of the Graves

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The Church seeks to help the faithful departed by earnest prayer to God, and in particular, by remembrance of them on All Souls Day and throughout the month of November.  In the communion of the saints, the communion of Christ’s members with one another, the Church obtains spiritual help for those who have preceded us in faith.  This spiritual communion brings the consolation of hope to us who remember with gratitude, love and devotion those who have gone before us in faith.  It is in this spirit that we commemorate our faithful departed on All Souls Day and bless their graves.  We entrust them once again to the purifying and life giving love of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our priests and deacons will offer prayers at our local cemeteries on the weekend closest to All Souls Day, our annual commemoration of the faithful departed on the following dates:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saint Joseph Cemetery, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. –  Rev. Msgr. Earl V. Provenza, V.F.

Centuries Memorial Cemetery, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. – Rev. Francis Kamau, F.M.H.

Forest Park Cemetery East, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. –  Deacon John Basco

Forest Park Cemetery West, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. – Rev. Matthew Long

Lincoln Park Cemetery, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. – Deacon Burt Ainsworth

Rose-Neath Cemetery, Bossier City, 2:00 p.m. – Deacon Freeman Ligon

Round Grove Cemetery, Shreveport, 2:00 p.m. – Rev. Andre McGrath, OFM

 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hill Crest Cemetery, Haughton, 2:00 p.m. -  Deacon Michael Straub

Carver Cemetery, Shreveport, 3:00 p.m. – Rev. Michael Thang’wa, FMH

Please contact Father Rothell Price at 318-868-4441, ext. 259 with any questions.

9/11 First Responder Speaks to SJS Students

September 11, 2001, a day that many of us remember like yesterday. A day that we recall precisely where we stood, what we were doing, who we were with, and what we said those very moments as the events of that terrible day unfolded. September 11 will be etched into our minds for the rest of our lives. But how do we move forward? How do we look at our children, many of whom were not yet born, and explain to them the magnitude, significance and impact this event had on our history?

St. Joseph School in Shreveport was honored to have Michael Torres, a retired New York City firefighter and 9/11 First Responder, speak at our annual September 11 Commemoration Ceremony. Torres was humble enough to share his experiences of that tragic day; a story he had never publicly spoke of until 11 years later.

Torres’ message was simple – education. “When I was talking to the children it was great because I could see their eyes light up,” Torres Said. “I could see I had their attention. I could see they were thinking… ‘wait a second, this is for real, this happened.’” Our children have learned about this event in the classroom, in books and through the media, but this opportunity humanized the event. It added the emotional touch to an event that they did not live through or did not remember. It added perspective that the country these students live in is not the same country as 11 years ago.

The students of St. Joseph will never view this day in the same light. The tears shed by Michael Torres were and will be forever shared by each student, teacher and parent attending that day. Tears of sorrow for those who did not make it home to their families, tears of gratitude for those who went in as others retreated, tears of joy because our flag still stands for freedom, and no one can take that away. “This should never be forgotten,” Torres said. “Our children should always be taught what happened on September 11, 2001 so that it never happens again.”

Torres concluded his presentation by saying, “September 11th, there were no heroes. It was a country that came and rose together and we still are a country that is together and bound.”

by Kevin Nolten, St. Joseph School

Celebrating 10 Years of Women’s Ministry

The Northwest Louisiana’s Magnificat celebrates a decade of prayer & learning

The NOWELA Chapter of Magnificat is proud to announce the celebration of its 10th Anniversary. The visitation scene from the Gospel of Luke is the inspiration for this women’s ministry, which adopts the name of Mary’s hymn of praise and the spirit of this biblical encounter. This ministry has proven to be a point of unity for Catholic women.

Magnificat began as an evening prayer group for women in New Orleans. It fulfilled a means through which Catholic women could pray, love, serve and share the good news of salvation and thus impart the Holy Spirit to each other. This small group sponsored their first Magnificat Meal in 1981. From that point Magnificat grew with chapters all over the United States and internationally.

In June 2001, June Finnorn said “yes to the Lord.” With spiritual support of our Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit, combined with the support of the Magnificat Central Service Team, the long process of becoming a Magnificat Chapter began for northwest Louisiana. Since that time, we have held 34 Prayer Brunches and hundreds of women have heard testimonies of how God has touched the lives of our guest speakers. Under the direction of Coordinator Sandy Chapman, her service team and current members, we have continued to grow and thrive. We humbly thank all that have participated, attended and supported our ministry as you have been a big part of our founding roots.

The Magnificat Meal is a venue for faith-sharing in a relaxed social setting. It supports the Magnificat objectives of encouraging spiritual growth in holiness through prayer, love of God the Father, commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord, study of scripture, love of and loyalty to the Catholic Church, serving the needs of the Church and world, love and devotion to Mary, appreciation of the vocation of Christian women, reverence for the sanctity of life, fostering the works of intercessory prayer, frequent participation in the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation and promoting unity among Catholic women.

We cordially invite you to attend the celebration of our 10th Anniversary as a Chapter as we host a Magnificat Prayer Brunch on November 10 at St. Jude Church in Bossier City.  Our guest speaker will be Fr. Partain from Mansura, LA.  To make reservations, please contact Barbara McAlister at 318-747-7029 or Helen Langley at 318-746-6223.

by Barbara McAlister

Pope Urges Interfaith Dialogue in Mideast, Defends Religious Freedom

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Photo: Pope Benedict XVI signs the apostolic exhortation on the church’s concerns in the Middle East during his visit to the Melkite Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa, Lebanon, Sept. 14. Standing next to the pope is Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

by Francis X. Rocca, CNS

BEIRUT (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI signed a major document calling on Catholics in the Middle East to engage in dialogue with Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim neighbors, but also to affirm and defend their right to live freely in the region where Christianity was born.

In a ceremony at the Melkite Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa Sept. 14, Pope Benedict signed the 90-page document of his reflections on the 2010 special Synod of Bishops, which was dedicated to Christians in the Middle East. He formally presented the document Sept. 16 at an outdoor Mass in Beirut.

A section dedicated to interreligious dialogue encouraged Christians to “esteem” the region’s dominant religion, Islam, lamenting that “both sides have used doctrinal differences as a pretext for justifying, in the name of religion, acts of intolerance, discrimination, marginalization and even of persecution.”

Yet in a reflection of the precarious position of Christians in most of the region today, where they frequently experience negative legal and social discrimination, the pope called for Arab societies to “move beyond tolerance to religious freedom.”

The “pinnacle of all other freedoms,” religious freedom is a “sacred and inalienable right,” which includes the “freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public,” the pope wrote.

It is a civil crime in some Muslim countries for Muslims to convert to another faith and, in Saudi Arabia, Catholic priests have been arrested for celebrating Mass, even in private.

The papal document, called an apostolic exhortation, denounced “religious fundamentalism” as the opposite extreme of the secularization that Pope Benedict has often criticized in the context of contemporary Western society.

Fundamentalism, which “afflicts all religious communities,” thrives on “economic and political instability, a readiness on the part of some to manipulate others, and a defective understanding of religion,” the pope wrote. “It wants to gain power, at times violently, over individual consciences, and over religion itself, for political reasons.”

Pope Benedict XVI walks to the altar for the start of Mass on the waterfront in Beirut Sept. 16. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Many Christians in the Middle East have expressed growing alarm at the rise of Islamist extremism, especially since the so-called Arab Spring democracy movement has toppled or threatened secular regimes that guaranteed religious minorities the freedom to practice their faith.
The apostolic exhortation criticized another aspect of social reality in the Middle East by denouncing the “wide variety of forms of discrimination” against women in the region.

While the pope signed the document in an atmosphere of interreligious harmony, with Orthodox, Muslim and Druze leaders in the attendance at the basilica, the same day brought an outburst of religiously inspired violence to Lebanon.

During a protest against the American-made anti-Muslim film that prompted demonstrations in Libya, Egypt and Yemen earlier in the week, a group attempted to storm a Lebanese government building in the northern city of Tripoli. The resulting clashes left one person dead and 25 wounded, local media reported. According to Voice of Lebanon radio, Lebanese army troops were deployed to Tripoli to prevent further violence.
Mohammad Samak, the Muslim secretary-general of Lebanon’s Christian-Muslim Committee for Dialogue, told Catholic News Service that the violence had nothing to do with the pope’s visit.

“All Muslim leaders and Muslim organizations — political and religious — they are all welcoming the Holy Father and welcoming his visit,” Samak said. “I hope his visit will give more credibility to what we have affirmed as the message of Lebanon — a country of conviviality between Christians and Muslims who are living peacefully and in harmony together for hundreds of years now.”

The State of Giving

Southern states rank among the top for charitable giving

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s much heralded “How America Gives” project highlighting charitable donations on a state-by-state basis has been completed, and their exclusive study shows that every state within our region appears in the top 25% of charitable giving among our nation’s 50 separate states.

Which state is number one for support of charitable causes?  Why, our super tithing Mormon sisters and brothers in Utah lead the way with a whopping 10.6% of household discretionary income directed toward charitable giving. The state which stands at number two may surprise you… our eastern neighbor Mississippi which despite a 3.4% drop from giving titan Utah, still provides 7.2% of household income to charity.  Two hops over to the east and Alabama lands in third place by this study data, with residents there providing 7.1% of their valuable income to non-profit organizations.  Just to the north, Tennessee residents see fit to provide 6.6% of their discretionary income to charitable causes, good for number four in the study.  Just above us, Arkansas tallies a seventh place finish with charitable giving claiming 6.3% of a family’s total annual directed income.

Where is Louisiana?  We finished a very respectable 12th in The Chronicle’s study, with people in our state donating 5.3% of discretionary income to charitable needs. Oh, and by the way, Texas was right behind us at lucky number thirteen with a 5.1% rate of charitable support from the family budget.

As many of our Catholic Connection readers may know, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops divides our nation into regions for administrative and sectional purposes.  Louisiana is a resident of Region V of the USCCB Conference and below are the states that join us in Region V and their ranking in The Chronicle’s study: Mississippi, #2; Alabama, #3; Tennessee, #4; Louisiana, #12; Kentucky #15.

The results of the study obviously say very good things about the level of social capital and charitable giving in the Deep South.  Donative intent and the empathetic capacity to give still dominate the psyche of the people of the Sun Belt, regardless of their chosen faith tradition. With the exception of Idaho and Utah, there is not a single state above the Mason-Dixon Line that is above number 20 in the Chronicle’s study and those facts just ain’t whistln’ Dixie!

by John Mark Willcox, Director of Development

Institution of Readers

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On Sunday, August 26, Bishop Michael Duca installed 16 deacon candidates to the Institution of Lector at Jesus the Good Shepherd Church in Monroe. During this Rite Bishop Duca instructed the candidates, “As readers and bearers of God’s word, you will assist in the mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world and so take on a special office within the Christian community.  You will be given a responsibility in the service of the faith, which is rooted in the word of God. You will proclaim that word in the liturgical assembly, instruct children and adults in the faith and prepare them to receive the sacraments worthily. You will bring the message of salvation to those who have not yet received it.” Each candidate then went before Bishop Duca who gave them a Bible and said, “Take this book of holy Scripture and be faithful in handing on the word of God, so that it may grow strong in the hearts of His people.”

The four-year formation is a commitment of time, energy and personal finances by these candidates. They must attend three weekend classes per month from September through April, and must complete approximately 1,000 hours of education and training by the end of training. Formation consists of five dimensions: Human, Spiritual, Intellectual, Pastoral and Diaconal.  All five dimensions are integrated together to create the diaconal ministry of service. Successful completion of this formation will result in ordination of men to the Order of Permanent Deacon.

In the dogmatic constitution, Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council called for the revival of the Order of Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. A deacon is a man who is called to a ministry of service, to live a Christian life and to increase the active service of the laity.  He is an ordained person living as one among the people. The role of a deacon is to be a helper of bishops and priests in service to the People of God, proclaiming by his very life the Church’s call to serve the needs of others.

The Diaconate Formation was established by the Church to encourage, support and train Catholic men who feel a call from God to offer their lives to the Lord in service. Deacons serve the community in many ministries. Deacons are official clergy in the Church, although they lead a lay lifestyle. Most are married, have families, and have secular jobs while serving the church and society.

by Deacon Clary Nash, Director of the Permanent Diaconate