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Diakonia: A Revolution of Tenderness

Is God calling you to serve him and his Church as a deacon?

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How does one discern a call from God to a vocation in the Church? God calls all people to holiness. Within this call God calls each of us to a particular state in life. For some this particular call is to marriage. Others are called to religious and consecrated life. Still others are called to ordained ministry as a deacon, priest, or bishop. As a young boy, I thought I was being called to the priesthood. In time, I discerned that God was calling me to the married state. This call was confirmed on the day of my wedding when I saw my beautiful bride and was reconfirmed when each of my three children were born.

In the year 1997, I was teaching a class on Christian Service to seniors at a Catholic high school when a student raised his hand and asked me: "What has discipleship cost you? How have you gone out of your comfort zone to minister to those in the margins?"

I am sure that I gave some answer to satisfy the student's curiosity. But in truth, my student was absolutely correct. Upon reflection, I realized that my own discipleship was very comfortable. Yes, I was doing good work, but was I following Jesus who went out to meet those who needed help? In truth, I wasn't. I knew that if I was going to be an effective witness to my students, I needed to practice what I preached. And so, with my young students, I opened a food pantry in Fall River to distribute bags of groceries on the last Saturday of every month. The year was 2001.

Imagine my surprise when in the middle of distributing groceries, I felt a call to go deeper into ministry similar to the call I heard when I thought God was calling me to be a priest. But I knew I didn't make a mistake in discerning the call to be a husband and father. So where was God calling me?

Then one Sunday I saw a married man serve alongside the priest at Sunday Mass, and I thought to myself, maybe this is where the Lord is calling me. This call was confirmed on the day of my ordination, Sept. 17, 2011, with the laying on of hands. This call is reconfirmed every time I meet a wounded and hungry heart longing for the tender mercy of our God.

My life is blessed. I am privileged to grow in my relationship with Christ by sharing the sacrament of marriage with my wife and the family we are raising in our home. I continue to serve Christ as a permanent deacon assigned to the Tri-Parish Collaborative of Brockton and as the director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate. This is how God has called me deeper into relationship with him. How might he be calling you? If you think God might be calling you then I invite you to participate in our inquiry program this fall. If you think God might be calling your husband, neighbor or friend, share this information with him and encourage him to attend these sessions.

Permanent Diaconate Inquiry Program Dates

Session I: Who is the Deacon and am I called?

Sept. 19, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Maria Goretti, 112 Chestnut Street, Lynnfield

Sept. 22, 2018, 10-11:30 a.m. at Sacred Hearts Parish, 165 South Street, Haverhill

Sept. 24, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Jerome's Parish, 632 Bridge Street, Weymouth

Sept. 25, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at Holy Name, 1689 Centre Street, West Roxbury (Lower Church)

Sept. 28, 2018 at 6-7:30 p.m. at St. Ann Parish Hall, 399 Medford Street, Somerville

Oct. 3, 2018, 6:30-8 p.m. at St. Augustine Parish Center, 43 Essex Street, Andover

Oct. 4, 2018, 7-8:30 at St. Peter's Parish Hall; 100 Concord Ave., Cambridge

(Entrance to Parish Center and parking from Manassas Ave.)

Oct. 4, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Stephen's Parish, 221 Concord Street, Framingham

Oct. 9, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Parish Hall, 1 Maquan Street, Hanson

Oct. 9, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Joseph Parish, Kingston, 272 Main Street (In hall adjacent to Church)

Oct. 10, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, 10 Diamond Street, Walpole

Oct. 11, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 95 Lakeview Ave., Tyngsboro

Oct. 20, 2018, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Sacred Hearts Parish, 297 Main Street, Malden

Oct. 23, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. Online Webinar; Call Pat DeBiase at 617-779-3645 or

email: pdebiase@rcab.org to register.

Session II: Application process, Canon Law, Formation from the wife's perspective

Tuesday Nov. 6, 2018, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Pastoral Center, Braintree

Session III: Discernment Day of Prayer

Saturday Nov. 17, 2018, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (with lunch provided) at the Pastoral Center, Braintree

Those who are interested in the diaconate are encouraged to attend all three events along with their wives (if married). Please email Deacon Christopher Connelly at deacon_vocations@rcab.org to sign up or to receive more information or call the office at 617-746-5649. The next group to be admitted into formation will begin classes in September 2019.

DEACON CHRISTOPHER CONNELLY IS ASSIGNED AS DEACON TO THE TRI-PARISH BROCKTON COLLABORATIVE AND DIRECTOR OF FORMATION FOR THE PERMANENT DIACONATE.

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