Many of you know that I am more Irish than German. But my friends tell me that the German genes seem to dominate those of the Irish.
This review has provided an opportunity to consider a number of organizational decisions and to build on our existing strengths. Hence, I am happy to say: Things are coming together.
One of the great resources we have in this local archdiocese is The St. Paul Seminary. Not only does it do a fantastic job of educating and forming our seminarians, but it also provides similar opportunities for lay pastoral leaders.
Our archdiocesan Vocation Office is also most appropriately located there. Recently, the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute has been added to the mix.
I am happy at this point to announce the addition of the Institute for Ongoing Clergy Formation as well as the Institute for Diaconal Formation.
These offices will be organized at the Center for Formation at The St. Paul Seminary under the supervision of Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan and the coordination of Bishop Lee Piché. You will hear more about these initiatives in the future, but I am pleased to share with you the purpose and mission of the Institute for Diaconal Formation.
As I announced here in this column over a year ago, I had established a committee under the chairmanship of Father Michael Skluzacek to study our diaconate program in light of the recently published National Directory for the Formation, Life and Ministry of Permanent Deacons in the United States.
The committee did an excellent job in studying the situation and has now made a series of recommendations, which I have accepted.
Deacon as servant
Perhaps a little bit of background may be helpful here: While the role of the deacon traces its origin to the earliest days of the church (cf Acts 6:1-7), nevertheless, the role fell out of usage for nearly a thousand years. The Second Vatican Council restored it to its proper rank, reestablishing it as an integral part of the church’s life.
The deacon is a servant of the Word, a servant of the altar and a servant of charity. Here in this archdiocese, we have more than 140 active deacons who serve as chaplains in hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities.
Deacons also care for the disabled and homebound, work to restore broken marriages and family lives, lead RCIA classes, minister the sacraments of baptism and matrimony, preside at funerals, and bring the Holy Eucharist to the sick and homebound. Finally, and most appropriately, they are attending to the needs of the poor.
While I suspended the admission of new diaconal candidates during this period of study and recommendation, I am now pleased to announce that any man wishing to apply for the diaconate should sign up for the Catechetical Institute, which is now a pre-requisite for formal diaconate training in the Institute for Diaconal Formation.
Interested men — and their wives, if possible — should make application to begin the Catechetical Institute this September (go to www.stthomas.edu/spssod).
Throughout this period of research and suspended admission, we have still had men preparing for ordination as permanent deacons. God willing, I will ordain eight more men to this order on Sept. 25, 2010.
I ask you to pray for these men as well as those who will follow. The diaconate fulfills a special and unique role in the church’s apostolic life. As St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “Without bishop, priest and deacon, one cannot speak of the Church.” Catholic Spirit