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Deacons’ Council
December 17, 2003

Present: Deacons Donoghue, Bulpett, Crimmins, Delaney, Hardcastle, Messina, Ryan, Shanahan, and Whipple
Absent: Deacons Canova, Goldy, Guerrini, Hickey, Menz, Morel, Santosuosso, and Wildes

1. Opening Prayer.
The meeting was called to order at 7:10 p.m. and began with a prayer from Henri Nouwen’s Advent Reflections.
The minutes of the September 17 meeting were accepted as corrected to reflect that Deacon Crimmins was present, that Deacon Donoghue realizes that field assignments as currently practiced before the last year of formation have had a real impact on candidates so that his underlying feeling is, “Why change?” and that “Ditewig” is the correct spelling of that deacon’s name.

2.Response to Archbishop Seán’s Remarks to Deacons,
Deacon Donoghue noted that attendance at the Archbishop’s sessions with deacons was excellent. His impression is that the Archbishop is strong, firm in his opinions, and a listening person. Deacon Bulpett noted that he gives straight answers, does not dance around questions. Deacon Crimmins found him humble and to the point. Deacon Messina noted that he had brought six pages of handwritten notes to the session.

Deacon Delaney recalled that Archbishop Seán had initiated the diaconate in the Virgin Islands. Deacon Ryan observed that he had missed the point of a request that he promote vocations to the diaconate and asked how current numbers of applicants stand. Deacon Messina said that they are increasing slowly. Deacon Donoghue indicated that 12 or 13 “Anglo” applications have been received and four Hispanic.

Deacon Donoghue informed the meeting that the Archbishop wants to participate in meetings with deacons. There could be a model in which the regional members of the Council schedule two-way sessions. Deacons Shanahan and Ryan noted that something similar had been proposed in the past. Deacon Ryan asked about the purpose of the sessions, and Deacon Donoghue said that they would be to permit two-way communication between the Archbishop and deacons and to give an opportunity for the participants simply to get together.

Deacon Delaney stated that the Archbishop also wants deacons to take part in marriage preparation. We should work in our own parishes to promote it. Deacon Whipple observed that the monthly vicariate clergy meetings could be another place to promote that involvement.

Deacon Donoghue observed that the prospective involvement of Council members in arranging for the meetings with the Archbishop in effect changes the job description of members and will affect how we operate. It should be taken into account in nominating and electing new members.

3. Response to Archbishop Seán’s Remarks to Priests.
Deacon Donoghue noted that the Archbishop spent much of his time speaking on the marriage issue and on parish reconfiguration. On the latter issue, Deacon Donoghue raised the question of how deacons will and should be in the process. He suggested that deacons should be aware of what people are going through and help them to go where they need to go. Deacon Ryan observed that most deacons are probably in parishes which will survive. Deacon Crimmins said that deacons should be supportive. Deacon Bulpett felt that it could be helpful to keep the clergy together for some time after reconfigurations.

Deacon Delaney commented that marriage is the truly pressing issue.

Deacon Whipple recounted discussions at vicariate meetings in which priests who had been involved in suppressions in Revere and Lynn told of the impact on them. One former pastor of a suppressed parish recounted that although he was able to help his parishioners deal with the closing, it “tore him apart” personally. This indicates that we need especially to support priests facing suppression of their parishes.

Deacon Ryan pointed out that there are also difficulties in receiving parishes: the deacon in Brockton is being inundated. Deacons should do what they can to help priests handle the increased responsibilities by covering duties for them.

Deacon Donoghue said that the question of assigning deacons to clusters needs to be addressed. Deacon Ryan felt that such assignments would be largely sacramental, and Deacon Delaney suggested that continuing the practice of assignments to parishes would work better.

Deacon Donoghue commented that it is safe to say that reconfiguration will be painful; being agents of change will be uncomfortable. Deacon Bulpett felt that many pastors probably already realize that their parishes are likely to be suppressed. Deacon Shanahan said that it is important that parishioners of suppressed parishes not become “second-class citizens” in the receiving parishes. Deacon Messina urged deacons be attuned to what is happening with neighboring deacons so that they are not overwhelmed.

4. Deacon Fund Discussion.
Deacon Messina presented a “Rationale for Deacon Fund” statement, which he asked members to review and comment on. Under present circumstances, he is putting it on hold until after the first of the year, but he will not let the project go. The proposal has gone to the Secretariat for Ministerial Personnel, and Bishop Lennon is aware of it. The Chancellor was aware of it and supportive over a year ago but now questions whether such a fund should exist. Deacon Donoghue noted that there was something of a timing problem in the context of the VOTF invitation to people to contribute through them. Deacon Whipple pointed out that, unlike the VOTF program, the Deacon Fund was intended to be an add-on, not a redistribution of existing contributions to the archdiocese.

Deacon Shanahan stated that some deacons, including senior deacons pay for their retreats using checks from their personal checking accounts. What is policy? Deacon Donoghue stated that senior deacons need not pay for their retreats. We offer them to them gratis.

5. Diaconate Office Report: Formation, Events, etc.

Deacon Donoghue reported the following.

We miss Sister Clare in the Office.

6. Membership Committee Report.
Deacon Ryan reported that he had not accomplished the work he had hoped to. He will reengage and hopes to have nominees selected by January so that elections can take place in February and new members installed by the March meeting.
(Deacon Delaney left the meeting at this point.)

7. Other Business.
A flyer announcing the National Catholic Diaconate Conference, July 1-4 in Baltimore, was distributed. Deacon Donoghue felt it would be good to go to.

Deacon Hardcastle said that Marilyn Mandosa was hurt that mailings have stopped since Frank died. It was noted that the monthly clergy mailing is directed only to clergy and is not under the control of the Diaconate Office. There is a wider issue of whether we as a community are as effective as we wish to be in including widows of deacons.

8. Next Meeting Date March 17, 2004.
The meeting adjourned at 9:15.

Respectfully submitted,
(Deacon) John E. Whipple, Secretary




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