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Archdiocese hosts regional deacon assembly

By Christopher S. Pineo
Posted: 11/14/2014

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Deacon Patrick E. Guerrini, the archdiocese's Director of Diaconal Life and Ministry, introduces keynote speaker Bishop Arthur Kennedy at the National Association of Deacon Directors -- Region I Assembly held at the Quincy Marriot Nov. 8. Pilot photo/Christopher S. Pineo

QUINCY -- The Archdiocese of Boston hosted deacons and their wives from throughout New England and New York state at the National Association of Deacon Directors -- Region I Assembly held at the Quincy Marriot Nov. 8.

Deacon Patrick E. Guerrini, the archdiocese's Director of Diaconal Life and Ministry, said 350 guests attended the event themed "New Evangelization: Core Mission of the Church."

The program for the day included meals, Mass, talks on the theme and discussion opportunities for the deacons, their wives, priests, candidates, and other guests.

Auxiliary Bishop of Boston Arthur L. Kennedy, who serves as Episcopal Vicar of the New Evangelization, gave the keynote centered on the personal, institutional and cultural components of the new evangelization.

"These three aspects of evangelization intersect one another in many ways. They are not silos, but rather they are ways in which we can focus on certain dimensions of the ongoing work of evangelization," Bishop Kennedy said.

He noted the role of the deacon in the life of the Church as part of the new evangelization.

"The diaconate mission is an essential means of undertaking this work of God in a time of cultural disarray," he said.

He said reaching out to those who have left the Church or separated themselves from God can be done by the laity and the diaconate, even as a world once convinced of the Gospel now redefines itself apart from Church teaching.

"It is, as I mentioned, the only task -- the one given to us by God through the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus -- and so it can be done, because it is God's will," he said.

Michael Lavigne, director of the Office for Lifelong Faith Formation, also spoke on living out the call of the new evangelization on a personal level.

"What is this all about? The new evangelization and evangelization in general is about helping to form disciples of Jesus Christ, who become saints. That is our mission, and that is our goal, nothing else, nothing more, nothing less. That's what this is all about," Lavigne said.

He also gave a brief history of the new evangelization, a term first coined by Pope St. John Paul II in 1979. He said Pope Benedict XVI further defined the new evangelization, and Pope Francis challenges Catholics now to go live out the call to spread the Gospel to a secularized world.

He stressed the importance of faith formation as a lifelong process, particularly by educating people throughout their lives.

"We need to teach kids to have an adult faith as they grow older," he said.

The third speaker of the day Mother Olga Yaqob, founder of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, spoke about carrying out the work of the new evangelization with the spirituality of a servant.

"Our Lord Jesus, he himself, called himself servant. 'I came to serve not to be served.' So, that's why it's so important for us, all of us, in our own vocation and journey of ministry -- particularly for our deacons -- to lift up this theme high," she said.

Deacons and their wives had opportunities to ask each of the speakers questions and discuss their ideas after each talk.

Sandy Miller, who attended the conference with her husband, Deacon Arthur Miller of Hartford, said the gatherings each year provide a great opportunity to interact and network with other deacons and their wives.

"It's interesting when we come together because we get to meet so many different people and hear so many different perspectives. You know what's happening in your own diocese, but then when you find out what's happening in others, what people are doing, and things they are trying, you can take them back and share information. I think that's the biggest thing," she said.

Bishop Kennedy celebrated the day's the closing Mass, which included a choir of deacons and their wives.

Deacon Guerrini said the Diocese of Hartford will host the convocation next year at the same location in Quincy.