December 6, 2005
Present: Archbishop Sean; Deacons Donoghue, Delio, Crimmins, Pepi, Boyle, Guerrini, Shanahan, Hickey, Spiro, Whipple, Hardcastle, Straub, Rooney, Koffel, and Mora.
Opening Prayer: Led by Deacon Donoghue, as meeting opened 7:05 PM
Welcome: Deacon Donoghue welcomed all and introduced Deacon Dick Delio who will be assisting Deacons in ministry, through Father Bill Kelly’s office of Clergy Support and Ongoing Formation. Deacon Donoghue noted that in line with the U.S.Bishops and NDPD directives, formation and ministry (after ordination) demand separate leadership, much as is done for priests in seminary formation vs. priesthood. Deacon Donoghue noted as well that Fr. Sassani will be assisting in prayer experiences for deacon candidates this year, on Saturdays, as part of the NDPD guidelines in meeting the dimensions of human, spiritual, and intellectual development.
Ministry: Deacon Delio spoke on his goals in the office for ongoing formation for deacons. These include an initial questionnaire for assessment on current support and environment; bringing deacons together to share and communicate in vicariates and regions; ensuring retreat opportunities and support; and promoting collegiality between priests and deacons. Bishop Sean commented on the greater attention needed with respect to ongoing formation.
Regional Reports: Deacons Spiri and Koffel from the West Region met with about 20 deacons from the region, a good turnout. Issues discussed included assistance to deacon candidates in light of diocesan financial difficulties. This could possibly be from parishes with candidates or a general fund. A suggestion was made that if all parishes contribute just $300 this would be a great assist to the candidates to avoid costly tuition. Other issues included lack of support to deacons in closed parishes, and possible evening vicariate meetings so that working deacons could attend. The well-attended meeting, at which Bishop Edyvan was present, was well received. Complete minutes are posted on the deacon website, thanks to Deacon Cornell.
Deacon Pepi reported that he contacted half of the Merrimack deacons by email and Deacon Crimmins the other half. Response was spotty but good. Deacon Crimmins read a moving email response from one deacon in his region. Deacon Pepi noted there is some confusion on outdated email lists which deacon Donoghue says is corrected and will forward proper list. Also, confusion on council members regions,, since part of Merrimack region is now the West region.
Deacon Hardcastle reported on the North region, where Bishop Irwin attended session. Deacon turner was also present. Concern was raised that deacon classes would be every 4 years due to costs; this was dispelled as an unlikely scenario.
Bishop Sean noted he had informed the regional bishops to meet with deacons on a regular basis, based on last council input.
Deacons Boyle and Rooney reported on the South Region. Fr. Condon is the interim vicar and very supportive. It was suggested that Deacons be asked to volunteer to assist bishop during confirmation if parish could not provide.
Deacon Guerrini reported ob the central region where it has been difficult to assemble deacons due to busy schedules. Concern was raised over underutilized or under appreciated deacons, and conflicts with pastors and expectations. Suggested more “one to one; meetings with pastors as Deacon Wildes used to do to facilitate or mediate.
5. Bishop Sean remarks: Bishop Sean thought the questionnaire to be sent by Deacon Delio was a good idea to see how prevalent under appreciated or under utilized deacons is. He also hoped Deacon retreat attendance would be 100%, and stated being afraid to ask pastor for financial support should not be an obstacle.
6. National Association of Diaconate Organizations Report
Deacon Hickey, president of NADO, noted there was much discussion and excellent reviews on the new national directory Diaconate document. He was asked by Deacon Ditewig to attend the international conference in Munich in September. Theme of the conference was “The Diaconate as a Prophetic Ministry in a Globalized World”. Thirty-four countries were represented, with over 100 deacons and wives in attendance along with five bishops. Deacon Hickey noted that the diaconate is alive in former “godless” countries. The Cuban bishop stated that the churches in countries without deacons are “not complete”. The conference was excellent and brought out the good works being done in serving God by deacons in different ways throughout the world.
Deacon Hickey noted that this is his final formal meeting in his capacity as council appointee.
7.0 Closing Remarks: Deacon Donoghue noted that in light of the New Orleans disaster and missing deacons, perhaps we should have our own disaster plan in our diocese.
Bishop Sean noted that all deacons should be holding regional meetings in order to minister to each other, stressing that importance in spite of some times impossible schedules.
8. Bishop concluding remarks:
The 1991 school plan was never o implemented and is now being revisited.
The Fincom is working with programs to reduce deficit and developing a recovery plan – cutbacks will be necessary
The Bishop felt deacons may be called to administrative tasks in parishes as a valuable asset in light of priest shortages.
All deacons and priests are mandated to be CORI checked and trained in VIRTUS if not already done so.
Vocation committees should be formed in parishes to promote the call to ministry, including the diaconate.
9. Next Meeting:
The next meting of the Council will be on Thursday, March 30, at 7PM in the Bishop Peterson Hall.
The meeting adjourned at 9:10 PM.
Deacon John Pepi, Secretary