Last year, the first two deacons were ordained in India in the Diocese of Bombay. Although that diocese has over 600 priests and no shortage of priestly vocations they also wish to restore the diaconate as a permanent state as encouraged by Vatican II in the document on the Church, Lumen Gentium. The Archbishop of that Diocese, Cardinal Oswald Gracias believes, we were told at a recent International Diaconate Conference, that deacons are not about filling in for priests but are an essential expression of Church's threefold ordained ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon. Ireland is also set to start its first deacons in formation this autumn and this story is slowly being replicated around the world.
At that same International Conference of Deacons from Europe East and West, America North and South, and Southern Africa we had the joy to meet Deacon Joseph from Botswana in Southern Africa who had been the only deacon in his diocese for more than 25 years but had last year been joined by 6 more men. He spoke passionately about recognizing the vocation of deacons as deacon qua deacon and not as that of some sort of 'stunted' or 'mini' priest.
The picture above shows Deacon Dr Estaban Rojas, a Columbian working in Germany with Italian immigrant communities and Deacon James Garner a business man from Zimbabwe working in South Africa at the final social evening of the International Conference. Ordinary men doing great things in the Church and beyond.
The next blog entry after Easter will reflect on the vocation of religious men and women in our diocese.