Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Address to the National Association of Deacons Conference 2019, Fremantle
“The renewed ministry of diakonia in the Church beyond the shadows of the priesthood“
4 October 2019
PART 6: DIACONATE AS EMBODIMENT OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD
I am greatly encouraged by the vocations to the permanent diaconate in my diocese. These are men who have transitioned into the second half of their lives and have reached a certain level of relational maturity.
They have also – more often than not – been tested by their lived experience in the world, including in the workplace. It is a phenomenon that the Church is yet to appreciate fully and to maximise its potential for its own benefit.
Their immersion into secularity by way of their professional jobs allows them to actively stand with working people. The expression of faith in daily life in the world is not an extra but is of the essence of Christianity.
It therefore seems right that some clergy should be fully in the strains and stresses of daily life to the extent of earning their living at secular work.
Often with ordination, there can be a certain sense of status, separation and even alienation that sets the ordained from ordinary people. The diaconate with its characteristic closeness to ordinary situations can help bridge the divide and build relationships between the minister and the people through solidarity with them. This is not to say the priest is not able to do the same.
In fact, the worker-priest movement specifically endeavours to immerse its members in the secular world while maintaining their priestly identity. It is however the nature of the diaconate, with its immersion into secularity through ordinary experience of family life and work, which enables the minister (and his spouse) to share more intimately the daily struggle of his people.
Part 7 will be published tomorrow.
To read Part 5 of Bishop Vincent’s address, click here.