Recent Addresses and Pastoral Letters

Address given by Archbishop Denis Hart to open the National Association of Deacons’ Conference at the Treacy Centre, Parkville, on Thursday 8th October 2015


Address given by Archbishop Denis Hart to open the National Association of Deacons’ Conference at the Treacy Centre, Parkville, on Thursday 8th October 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am honoured to be with you and I thank my friend Deacon Jim Curtain for his invitation on your behalf to join you for this significant moment. Although the Diaconate was restored at the Second Vatican Council, it has taken a number of years for the diaconal service to come to fruition. The fact that some deacons are married adds another dimension.

I particularly rejoice in being with you because I believe that where Deacons are adequately trained and their reality as single or married men is respected, the diaconal ministry as an ordained ministry has been a tremendous gift to the Church. I know in this Diocese when we started the Diaconate Programme, for which I am deeply grateful to Father Michael McEntee, with a five-year part-time formation, there was some hesitancy among Pastoral Associates because they thought they were becoming less relevant. However, there is a world of difference between the ordained ministry of Deacons and the special gifts of the laity.

Deacons share in the Sacrament of Order in the Third Degree. They are invited to be men of the Word of God and because the Word calls us all to conversion their ministry of service enriches the Church unbelievably.

I think it is important to remember that for married deacons the diaconal ministry is an enrichment of their marriage because it adds to the gifts which they and their wives have shared over a long period of time and now they are called to ministerial service.

I have always tried to meet with Deacons and their wives during the course of training because it is very important for the Deacon’s service to arise out of the gift of self, which is common to husband and wife, and for the Deacon to know that he is totally supported by his wife in the ministry that he undertakes for the people of God, which sometimes means that he is not as available as often for time with his wife and family. All of these things need to be considered in a Deacon reflecting with his wife whether he has a call to Diaconate.

However, in addition to the Word of God and the call to holiness, the pastoral care of families can be enriched by a Deacon who is himself married and can therefore be of direct practical experience. A Deacon, too, is a man of prayer so that the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours shows something which is common to bishops, priests and deacons; that of praying for God’s people and bringing their lives and their challenges before the face of God.

While your diaconal service has its origin in the liturgy and the liturgical service and proclaiming the Word that is part of your ordained ministry, if this ministry is restricted to a liturgical service then we will not see the universal call to charity and to seeing people with the face and with the compassion of Christ.

So, my dear friends, I thank you very sincerely for all that you are doing and I pay special tribute to your wives who work and pray with you in marriage and generously have offered to the Church your ordained ministry by their constant support. I pray that this Conference will be an effective means for your further education and collaboration in accordance with the mind of the Church and will provide encouragement to you to bring the charity of Christ and his compassion, mercy and care to the people of our day. Thank you so much.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.
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