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  • 1,300 deacons walk into a room

    Deacons Nicholas LaDuca and Paul Ochenkowski recently joined Catholic Herald staff for a conversation about what it was like to meet up with more than 1,300 other deacons during the recent National Diaconate Congress in New Orleans. 

    The congress took place during the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the permanent diaconate. For centuries before the Second Vatican Council, the diaconate had been restricted to men on the path to the priesthood. 

     “One bishop said that the Second Vatican Council didn’t bring back the diaconate because of a shortage of priests, but a shortage of deacons,” noted Deacon LaDuca, a retired Marine officer, who serves at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale. “That’s important to recognize, that we’re a distinct order, not a competing order.”

    The congress “emphasized the deacon as the instrument of the church’s charity,” said Deacon Ochenkowski, a retired Navy captain who is the coordinator for religious education at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly. He quoted Archbishop Christophe Pierre’s homily from the opening Mass, which called deacons “the conscience of the church” in matters of service to the poor and marginalized. 

    Permanent deacons are called to “be out there living their faith in the secular world,” said Deacon LaDuca, “so that they can be images of what can be done by a Christian who is called by his baptism to be a disciple.” 


    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

    @Mary Stachyra Lopez