March 30, 2006
Present: Cardinal Sean; Rev. Bill Kelly; Deacons Donoghue, Delio, Crimmins, Pepi, Boyle, Turner, Spiri, Whipple, Straub, Rooney, Ryan, and Koffel.
Opening Prayer: Deacon Whipple welcomed all and introduced Cardinal Sean who led with an opening prayer as meeting began at 7:00PM.
Welcome: Deacon Whipple asked Cardinal Sean to open with remarks as he had another appointment later during the evening.
Cardinal Sean Remarks: Cardinal Sean (just back from Rome) reported on the financial situation of the archdiocese, as he is about to make a presentation on financial transparency. The Cardinal noted that he plans to outline the current situation of hospitals, schools, and restructuring, along with a recovery plan. He reported that a new Chancellor would be announced soon and that two bishops are yet to be named for the archdiocese but will hopefully be announced soon as well. The Cardinal mentioned that the Cardinal Appeal goal has been met, Mass attendance is up at its highest level relative to the past three years, and that both the recent Men and Women’s conferences were very well attended and received. Vocation meetings have also been well attended, with 75 men expressing interest at recent sessions.
Regional Reports: Deacon Pepi reported from the Merrimack region that thanks to Deacon Cornell e-mail lists of all deacons by region, both old and new regions, are readily available. Deacon Pepi will continue to represent Merrimack with Deacon Crimmins, although assigned to the West region, in order to maintain balanced representation. Council members who need this information should contact Deacon Cornell for instructions and information on treating lists and passwords appropriately. Deacon Pepi felt that without communication to the deacons the council role is only another meeting. Many of the council members have been quite proactive in regional meetings and communication.
Deacon Straub reported that the Central region had recently met but attendance was quite low.
Deacon Boyle reported that the South region had an annual dinner that was well attended.
Deacon Spiri noted that 18 of 50 deacons attended the last West region meeting, and minutes are available on the archdiocesan Diaconate website.
Twenty deacons were present at the North regional meeting with Bishop Irwin in attendance. Deacon Turner mentioned that the movie PASSION was shown at Saint Patrick in Stoneham with the priest advisor to Mel Gibson present, and over 700 attended.
Questions to Cardinal Sean: Deacon Boyle inquired about Pope John Paul’s encyclical on the Eucharist and the lack of uniformity on the use of the Chalice. Cardinal Sean noted there is always confusion in change; formerly one chalice, or pitcher; now glass use is not part of rite and multiple cups are the norm. He suggested continued workshops for deacons to bring the proper guidelines to the parish and to feel comfortable with new rites.
Deacon Whipple noted that he had assisted at a Mass with the bishop and the Marists as requested, and Cardinal Sean’s hope was that more deacons participate in pontifical Masses. Deacon Ryan reported on the model set in the South, with the cooperation of Bishop Malone, in which deacons would assist the bishop in parishes without a deacon. A list was maintained, and he suggested this as a good practice for all regions, if the regional bishop so desires this service.
Deacon Crimmins commended the Cardinal on his recent newspaper interview, and Deacon Crimmins noted how our role as deacons is to preach what it means to believe, to preach the truth, to uphold the church’s teachings, help the poor, and do as God calls us to do. Cardinal Sean responded on the importance of truth, and of ongoing formation faith formation of deacons, and as well to assist in formation of young adults and youth.
Discussion on Fraternity of Deacons: A general discussion ensued on the participation of deacons at regional meetings. The question raised was how to get better participation, as Cardinal Sean had encouraged the importance of the brotherhood of deacons to maintain a sense of community, just as it is important for priests to do. Cardinal Sean expressed the importance of an agenda to hold interest, perhaps have speakers on preaching, on liturgy, opened with prayer and concluded with sharing. Deacon Spiri noted that the deacons started an Emmaus group that was so successful with the priests, but it seems to have died. Cardinal Sean asked what sort of participation was occurring at Diaconate get togethers and convocations, and 35% was noted as a high figure. Deacon Pepi noted that 35% is a pretty good number, considering all the other commitments deacons have to their ministries, to their families, and to their work. It was mentioned by several of the deacons that perhaps vicariate level meeting with deacons, rather than regional, would get more local deacons together on a more frequent basis, as much a monthly, and then hold regional meetings quarterly. This would only happen if there were planned meetings, themes, and deacons willing to organize and follow through. Cardinal Sean thought meeting locally, or with classmates, would be good – at least they know one another or can more easily get to know one another. Deacon Delio queried whether even Council meetings could be held in regional areas other than Boston, and even ask wives if they desired to attend. Deacon Ryan thought it would be good for wives to attend various meetings, but only if that is their desire.
Deacon Rooney brought up an initiative of supporting newly ordained deacons, and inviting all regional deacons to take part in their first Mass of Thanksgiving as a show of support. Deacon Ryan felt it also important for deacons to support our priests in attendance at the Chrism Mass. Deacons are encouraged to attend the Mass and luncheon to follow, along with their wives.
Deacons and Wives Convocation: A general discussion on the recent convocation elicited highly positive responses. A suggestion was made to better communicate these events, both before and after, by newsletter for example. Deacon Delio suggested future e meetings would provide a list of attendees along with wives so all might know who is going and this would perhaps encourage others to go. Deacon Straub thought it important to know how good the program is so it not just another meeting. Deacon Pepi noted the excellence of the speaker and the camaraderie of the deacons and wives, and Deacon Delio noted that the surveys emphasized both these observations. It was noted that the presence of Fr. Kelly, Bishop Sean, and the speaker Msgr. Caggiano, made deacons feel a strong part of the clergy community, something lacking in earlier convocations.
Involvement: Deacon Delio said that fraternity might continue in local meetings, with speakers, days of recollection, etc., and the office is working on ways to more involve others. Deacon Delio stressed the importance of finding ways as a council to formulate programs for deacons, assist in organizing m programs for ongoing formation and to help the entire Diaconate community. Deacon Pepi noted that the support of the Office for Ongoing Formation of Deacons, under Fr. Kelly and Deacon Delio, has been an excellent way to let deacons know they are valued as clergy, and that deacons need no praise but being recognized as a sign of the church is important. Deacon Delio was asked about a survey of deacons he is initiating, and responded that this was in the works and he hoped to bring this up at the next meeting. Survey would ask about deacon’s ministry, involvement, new pastor concerns, etc., along with spiritual, educational, and pastoral lives. Deacon Ryan thought a survey of wives would also be good, so they might be included. Deacon Spiri did not think wives would want to be at council meetings, and Deacon Ryan affirmed that wives need to be heard and not necessarily involved.
Deacon Donoghue Remarks: Deacon Donoghue spoke of the need for volunteers to assist in the formation board in light of the new guidelines of the National directory for deacons. He has previously communicated this. There would be a committee on admissions, and a board mandated to look at the whole Diaconate formation program; how courses might be added, stretched, or compacted. An evaluation team for ordination would be more expanded as well. Deacon Donoghue noted that six yearly Saturday sessions are planned for the future classes and will be phased in; this will help in the spiritual and human formation of candidates. Addition of more pastoral and intern involvement, and deacon “shadowing”, were other possibilities. Deacon Pepi inquired of the numbers of candidates, and Deacon Donoghue noted that currently, there are 17 candidates in the class of 2006, 29 English and Spanish candidates in 2008, and 35 have expressed interest in the class of 2010. Deacon Ryan inquired of term assignments for deacons, and Deacon Donoghue noted that current re-assignment initiatives are inactive but remarked that the office of ongoing formation is reviewing this; any “mandatory” length of term reassignments, as has been done in some other dioceses, is not likely, although the promise of obedience to the Bishop will always hold true.
Adjourn: Deacon Whipple closed the meeting with prayer at 9:02 PM. The next meeting is scheduled for May 9.
Deacon John Pepi, Secretary