Organisers have released the program of the upcoming National Deacons Conference, to be held in Baulkham Hills, Sydney, in October, including a number of high-profile speakers and the opportunity for attendees to meet the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Charles Balvo. It is also an opportunity to digest and discern the outcomes of the Second Assembly of the Plenary Council.
Speakers include NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald AM speaking on “Deacons Missioning in a Church Without Walls”, Plenary Council Facilitator Lana Turvey-Collins on listening and service and Dr Anne Benjamin covering how deacons can nurture a synodal Church.
Archbishop Charles Balvo will address the Conference dinner and celebrate the concluding Mass for the event.
The theme of the 2022 conference is “Deacons going into the deep – Speak Lord, Your Servant is listening.” Organisers say the theme responds to the call of Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, to “Go into the Deep”, inviting members of our faith community to reach out to the margins of society in our ministries. The theme is also a response to the Australian Plenary Council question, “What do you think God is asking of us in Australia at this time?”
Held after the final session of the Plenary Council, the conference will also be a time of discerning and considering how diaconal ministries can serve the needs of a post-Plenary Council Church.
Organisers hope the conference will also be a time to consider how the ministry of the deacon can respond in a life-giving way at both local and national levels as we emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Deacon Peter McCulloch of Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral Parish, Hornsby, recommends that anyone interested in the Church should attend.
“The National Deacons’ Conference is a great place to meet people who make such a difference in the life of the Church,” he said.
“If you want to get a sense of how the Church is changing, go to the next National Conference of Deacons.”
Parousia Media Director Charbel Raish, who is sponsoring the event, is keen for not only deacons and their wives to attend, but any lay people interested in deepening their faith.
“Jesus did say that the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few,” he said. “We tend to apply this bible quote to the priesthood but just as important is the Vocational call to the diaconate. There are so many misunderstandings of what a deacon does so this is a good opportunity to bring together anyone who is discerning this important call to dive deeper into the role of a deacon”.
The National Association of Deacons’ Conference will be held from 13 to 16 October 2022 at St Joseph’s Conference and Retreat Centre, Baulkham Hills, Sydney. Registrations are open now, with an early bird discount available until 22 July, and discounts for members of the National Association of Deacons. Information can be found at deaconsconference2022.floktu.com.