Cardinal Seán O'Malley, Fr. Bill Kelly, deacons: Dick Delio, Leo Donoghue, Dan Crimmins (M.), Phil Hardcastle (N), Bob Turner (N), Pat Guerrini (C), Stanley Straub (C), Bill Koffel (W), Guy Spiri (W), Joe Delaney, John Whipple, and Al Shanahan.
John Pepi (M.), John Boyle (S) and Paul Rooney (S)
The meeting began with an opening prayer by Dick Delio followed by a reflection and group sharing. Fr. Bill Kelly then welcomed Cardinal Sean and the entire Board. He provided oral minutes of the last meeting which was approved. Fr. Bill stated that the name of the committee would be changed to the Deacon Community Board in order to be consistent with the national directive. He also indicated that under the new directive, the Board reports to Cardinal Seán and that Cardinal Seán has appointed him as the Moderator of the Board, as part of his responsibility as the Director of Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation. Dick Delio will assist Fr. Bill in coordinating the Board meetings and activities.
Fr. Bill indicated that these changes, directed by the National Directory, resulted in the separation of the permanent diaconate office into two parts; Diaconate Formation under Leo Donoghue and Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation under Fr. Bill, assisted by Dick Delio. In the past, he stated that all of these efforts were under the direction of Leo Donoghue who had done an admirable job. Fr. Bill thanked Leo for all his efforts and wished him success in the development and implementation of the expanded Diaconate formation program required by the National Directory.
Cardinal Seán described the three ongoing committees he had formed to give him guidance in his work. They are: Pastoral Planning (focused on personnel issues); Faith Formation (focused on adolescent and young adults); and Marriage. With respect to marriage, Cardinal Seán spoke of the current challenges to marriage, especially cohabitation in which people no longer understand the need of the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony and he sees this as a societal challenge to the faith. Evidence of the problem can be seen in the significant decrease in weddings being experienced in the parishes. Cardinal Seán also spoke of the legislative plebiscite and that 170,000 signatures were attained to require a vote on the Marriage Amendment. Cardinal Seán expressed the concern that the church will be stripped of its ability to perform weddings which would become only civil ceremonies at town Hall. Cardinal Seán also suggested that it might be beneficial to invite some of the members of these committees to the regional Deacon meetings, which he again encourage the Board members to convene on a regular basis. The point was made to Cardinal Seán by some present that parishes were also experiencing a decrease in baptisms and funerals as well as marriages.
Leo Donoghue then gave an overview of the changes to the Diaconate Formation program. He passed out a schedule of the various committees now required by the National Directory and the members on the committees. Leo stated that the required changes would result in additional time requirements for those in formation including attending classes on some Saturdays. The committees are to report back to Leo by the end of March on their suggestions for the program components they were tasked to look at. Finally, Leo commented on the fact that very few wives now attend classes with their husbands and that this was the result of there no longer being a sister Clare to support the wives. Finally Leo pointed out that the number of candidates for the next Deacon class, commencing in 2007 was not affected by the delay of one year in the beginning of the new program. Various Board members raise questions about the changes being made and asked for clarification which Leo addressed.
Dick Delio discussed the various possible areas the Board could move into. He spoke of the desire to have the Board become an active board versus being an advisory board only. Dick stated that the suggested changes reflect the reality that there are not sufficient resources in the chancery to adequately support the deacons in their ongoing support and formation in the areas of spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral . A suggestion to overcome this deficiency was the proposal to form subcommittees of deacons in the areas of retreats (now being coordinated by Al Shanahan), convocation, continuing education, wives, social, mentoring of new deacons, communications, bereavement/sick visitation and notification, and a committee for elections/nominations. A general discussion took place on these ideas and it was indicated by Dick that these ideas will form the agenda of future meetings. It was hoped that the representatives present would get some feedback on these ideas from the deacons in their regions to form part of future discussions here on the Board.
Dick brought up the need for elections, the composition of the Board and the reasons for non-elected members. With respect to the composition of the Board, the National Directory states that wives of deacons should be part of the Board or at least have their own Board. It was suggested that wives become elected to the overall Deacon Community Board. In addition, the Director of Diaconate Formation and the Assistant Director of Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation would be permanent ad hoc members of the Board.
There was a general discussion of these points. The Board members were asked to reflect on these discussions in order to help solidify the best approach to take at the next meeting. Finally, Dick Delio mention the Convocation and the hope that all will talk it up in their regions so that we can have a good turnout, not to reach a certain number, but to enable brother deacons and their wives to form or reestablish bonds of fraternity and be refreshed by the talks on their diaconate calling.
Finally, Dick Delio mention that concerns from various deacons had been submitted for discussion at the meeting. He indicated that because of time these concerns would be tabled until the next meeting for future discussion.
The date for the next meeting will be April 25, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. Dan Crimmins volunteered the Merrimack region to lead the next meeting’s opening prayer.
Cardinal Seán closed the meeting with the prayer.
Deacon Dick Delio