Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen and Heard for December 6, 2012

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published December 6, 2012

We have roughly 220 permanent deacons who are currently ministering or who have ministered to the people of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. While some of our deacons are now retired from a full-time pastoral assignment, all of them have added much to the life of faith in this local Church. Last week, because of several different and unexpected encounters, I had the fortunate opportunity of reflecting on the generous and wise pastoral service these men—with the full collaboration of their equally generous wives—provide for us.

One of our Haitian deacons stopped by my office to inform me that he would be helping to coordinate the Haitian Independence Day Eucharist on Jan. 1, which will be held at St. Andrew’s Parish. He was simply touching base just to make sure that he had all of the details so that he could make certain that everything was in order for this festive event.

Deacons frequently do the background work—often without a lot of public attention—so that the Church can pray effectively together. His own Haitian cultural background will be of great assistance in arranging for this special celebration.

Then another deacon stopped by to introduce himself to me as a new deacon who had just been ordained in Savannah and now found himself in North Georgia to be with his family. He brought with him a host of talents and experiences that will be of great assistance to our immigrant community. He has served as a Homeland Security law enforcement officer, and he knows the details of those laws and procedures and what the law requires. He can and is very willing to help the Archdiocese of Atlanta in caring for our many immigrant people as they aspire to live in conformity and within the laws of our nation and to pursue their own appropriate personal and familial aspirations to secure a better life for themselves and their families. This deacon’s specialized background and his obvious compassionate concern for immigrants will be of critical importance for the Church’s ministry.

Another of our deacons, who once worked for a penal institution, has made prison ministry part of his personal involvement with the life of the Church. He knows prisons and he knows prisoners, and he allows his professional expertise to guide his pastoral service. He spoke to our Presbyteral Council about the challenges that we all face in helping our people to understand and to support the Church’s social teaching on the Christian treatment of prisoners and our equally important and necessary outreach to those who have suffered the victimization of a crime.

Last week, the parish family of St. Oliver Plunkett commended Tom Mackin to the Father’s Kingdom in gratitude for his pastoral service to them as a deacon. Although he had stepped back from an official pastoral assignment, he nonetheless left a legacy of generous and faithful service to the community.

We have many such deacons who even though they have retired have found a secure place in the hearts of those that they have served with kindness and generosity. All of us should pray for our deceased deacons and their wives and family members as an obligation in charity and thanksgiving.

Deacons have enhanced the pastoral life of our Church in numerous ways—especially as they allow their own professional and cultural legacy to inform and guide their ministry and improve life for all of us, in particular those who are new arrivals to our community, marginalized and often neglected. From the earliest deacons in the Church to those in our own Archdiocese, those are the people who rank first in the ministry and the heart of the Diaconate.