Permanent Diaconate holds annual convocation, looks back and prepares for future

September 13, 2016

HOUSTON — More than 200 deacons and their wives of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston assembled for the annual Permanent Diaconate annual convocation at St. Mary’s Seminary, Aug. 13.

Monsignor John Radano, adjunct professor of Systematic Theology at Seton Hall University, was the gathering’s keynote speaker. He addressed “Achievements of Catholic Ecumenism since Vatican II” and the “The Challenge of Ecumenism in 2017.”

Deacon Phillip Jackson, the Office of the Permanent Diaconate director, said the presentations offered him — and the other deacons in attendance — great perspective of the past, and what lies ahead.

“History is important, because it helps one understand where we’ve come from and gives us insight on where we are going,” he said. “It is a lived and shared history that we can work together for unity.”

Outside of Deacon Jackson’s “State of the Diaconate” address to the deacons, the convocation also featured Father Italo Dell’Oro, C.R.S., who spoke on the “The Diaconate in the Mission of the Archdiocese.” Father Dell’Oro is director of the Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services Office, the Secretariat for which the Diaconate Office belongs.

Father Dell’Oro gratefully acknowledged and commended the great variety of pastoral services offered by so many deacons, from hospital to prison chaplaincies, from parish administration to different age groups religious education programs. As they do so, deacons pick up the hopes and anguish, the joys and sorrows of so many parishioners. Father Dell’Oro encouraged the deacons to listen attentively to the people of God.
In addition, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo provided a presentation on “Deacon: Icon of God’s Mercy” and celebrated the convocation’s closing Liturgy that afternoon.

Deacon Jackson said deacons have a special relationship with their bishop: They are ordained in service to the bishop, who assigns him to a parish as well a social ministry, which could be hospital ministry or prison ministry or another ministry of service and charity.

“The deacon is ordained to the threefold ministry of Liturgy, word and charity,” Deacon Jackson said. “It is the deacon who is the eyes and ears of the bishop, bringing the concerns of the faithful to his attention.”

As is the case with the annual Galveston-Houston convocation, Cardinal DiNardo “calls his deacons together to hear from them,” Deacon Jackson said. “He conveys to the deacons his concerns about the needs within the Archdiocese and gives them encouragement and guidance. We are called, formed and sent to help facilitate, motivate and animate God’s holy people.”

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has the largest Diaconate formation program in the country, with three phases running concurrently in both English and Spanish. There are currently 19 men in the Candidate Phase, to be ordained in the Class of 2013-2017. The Permanent Diaconate Office is organized with directors overseeing Admission and Scrutiny, Formation and Ministry and Life.

Deacon Dominic Romaguera, the director of Admissions and Scrutiny, is currently attending priest deanery meetings to speak to the pastors about the recommendation process of men interested in the Permanent Diaconate.

“We gleaned valuable feedback from these meetings and have begun to implement some of the suggestions offered by the pastors,” Deacon Jackson said.

Deacon Rob Ward serves as the director of Formation, facilitating the processes involved in the selection of candidates, their formation, evaluation and initial assignment. Through the academic, spiritual and pastoral formation of these men, the director helps in the holistic development of each candidate within his family and community. Deacon Jackson oversees the Ministry and Life.

“The new organizational structure allows us to focus our attention to the specific areas of formation,” Deacon Jackson said. “It is our hope to be able to respond more quickly to answer questions and provide information regarding the Permanent Diaconate.”