Parramatta hosts National Deacons Conference
14 – 16 October 2022
The National Deacons Conference will convene in Parramatta this year, during 14 to 16 October. It will bring together deacons, their spouses and those who are interested in the ministry of the diaconate from across Australia and beyond. On behalf of the Diocese, I extend to the delegates our warm welcome, hospitality and support for a very fruitful outcome of this important event in the life of the Church in Australia.
I am proud to say that the Diocese of Parramatta is now home to one of the most diverse and dynamic groups of permanent deacons in Australia. They are drawn from vastly different backgrounds and greatly enrich the life of the local Church. They work in a variety of ministries including prisons, hospitals, aged care facilities, parishes, academia and other settings. There are 15 deacons in active ministry, 14 candidates in formation and 2 deacons in retirement. Both St Luke’s Parochial District in Marsden Park and Sacred Heart Parish in South Mt Druitt are now under the pastoral care of deacons and their wives, respectively.
I am convinced that this is the sign of the times when Christian ministries are increasingly reimagined and revitalised by way of relational maturity, mutuality, collaboration and service. Celibate priests have a lot to learn from the deacons and their spouses as the latter seek to embody the ideal of Christian service in their public ministry and marriage covenants.
One of the major achievements of the Second Vatican Council was the restructuring of the sacrament of orders. Along with the suppression of the minor orders, the Council restored the diaconate and defined its function in communion with the presbyterate and the episcopacy. As a result, the diaconate has gradually emerged from the shadows of the presbyterate and become its own permanent state of life. Pope Paul VI would later declare that the diaconate was the driving force for the Church’s own diakonia. St Pope John Paul II would likewise teach that the service of the deacon is the Church’s service sacramentalised.
The restored and revitalised Order of the diaconate will help restore the crucial aspect of all Christian ministries as an expression of the Church’s diakonia. If you notice carefully, Pope Francis actually wears a stole like a deacon –and not like a priest – when he performs the ritual of feet washing on Holy Thursday. I suspect it is an intentional act, a symbol of the Church that is committed to humble service, the Church that expresses diakonia in actions that heal and nurture people and relationships. The spirit of diakonia must characterise the very nature of Christian ministry of leadership and service.
I firmly believe that we are on the threshold of renewal and transformation of the ordained ministry. The diaconate with its emphasis on mutuality, collaboration, partnership, ministry of charity and immersion at the margins points the way to the future of Christian leadership and service.
I pray that the Conference will be a source of blessing for the Church going forward.
Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv
Bishop of Parramatta
If you are interested in attending the 2022 Biennial National Deacons conference, please visit the registration website address – https://deaconsconference2022.floktu.com/
For more information about the permanent diaconate in the Diocese of Parramatta, please visit: www.parracatholic.org/permanent-diaconate