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May 17, 2023

By Darcy Fargo

Deacons of the Diocese of Ogdensburg gathered at Edgewood Resort in Alexandria Bay from May 8 to 10 to share opportunities for learning, faith, fellowship and fun at the annual Deacon Assembly.

The event included workshops, prayer and social gatherings for both deacons and their wives. Diocesan Vicar for Clergy Father Christopher C. Carrara presented on “The New Program for Priestly Formation,” diocesan Director of Evangelization presented “Proclaim Salvation Through Jesus Christ,” Bishop LaValley met with the deacons and their wives, and the deacons met in deanery groups. Each day of the Assembly included the Liturgy of the Hours and social gatherings, and Mass was celebrated with the gathered deacons and wives on May 9.

The Assembly featured three presentations and a question-and-answer period with keynote speaker Deacon William Ditewig, a retired Navy commander who has served as a deacon in the military and in parishes in Illinois and Iowa. He’s also served in roles in the Archdiocese of Washington, the USCCB and the Diocese of Monterey, and as a professor at Saint Leo University in Florida and Santa Clara University in California. He currently resides in Florida and travels speaking on the diaconate while continuing to teach.

Deacon Ditewig focused on the following themes throughout the course of the gathering:
•  Why does the Church have deacons?

•  How do we serve in a synodal Church?

•  What do we do? Expanding our imagination of the Diaconate.

“There’s no such thing as a one-size fits all diaconate,” he said. “It can be the most flexible of the orders. We see that in our history.”

Deacon Ditewig noted that many seem to be under the impression that the diaconate was “restored by the Second Vatican Council,” he said.

“’Restored’ implies it was something, it went away and then it came back again,” he said. “The diaconate has never not been part of the Church. Ever. It’s morphed into other forms. For a while, it was this thing called ‘the transitional diaconate.’ That’s like saying before he was bishop, Bishop Terry (LaValley) was a transitional priest. It doesn’t sacramentally hold water.”

As he concluded his opening address, Deacon Ditewig returned to that first theme.

“Why does the Church have deacons? Let me share this quote from Lumen Gentium (one of the principal documents of the Council),” he said, posting the following quote on a screen:

“For the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God, Christ the Lord instituted in His Church a variety of ministries, which work for the good of the whole body. For those ministers, who are endowed with sacred power, serve their (brothers and sisters), so that all who are of the People of God, and therefore enjoy a true Christian dignity, working toward a common goal freely and in an orderly way, may arrive at salvation.”

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