At convocation, diocese’s permanent deacons urged to witness to God’s mercy

Permanent deacons from throughout the Diocese of Peoria pose with Bishop Jenky in the sanctuary of St. Mary's Cathedral after a Mass that opened their convocation on March 4. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Thanking the permanent deacons of the Diocese of Peoria for being his “hands out in the trenches,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, challenged the diaconate community to continually “look for opportunities to witness to God’s tremendous love and mercy.”

“Let’s be ready to carry God’s amazing love which he revealed in Jesus Christ to everyone we meet,” said Bishop Jenky in closing his homily at a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral opening the diocese’s annual Deacon Convocation.

Among those recommiting to service and support and the convocation Mass were, from left, Deacon Gary and Connie Koerner of St. Mary Parish, Downs; Kathryn and Deacon Michael Pool of St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington; and Deacon Michael and Bernadette An of Epiphany Parish, Normal. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Bishop Jenky led the deacons and their wives in a recommital service. The deacons resolved anew to serve “with humility and love” and “proclaim the hope and joy the Gospel offers.” The deacons’ wives renewed their commitment to support their husbands’ diaconal ministry by their love, prayers and assistance.

At the close of Mass, the deacon classes observing anniversary years were recognized. The names of the surviving members of Class I — ordained 40 years ago — were read by Msgr. Timothy Nolan, episcopal vicar for the permanent diaconate. They include Deacon Roger Adams, Deacon Bernard Filzen, Deacon Richard Hammond, and Deacon Frank Randazzo.

Likewise, members of Class 5 — ordained 25 years ago — were also recognized. The surviving members include: Deacon Charles Breeden, Deacon Raymond Burton, Deacon Dale (Jack) Gaetz, Deacon Timothy Granet, Deacon William Gray, Deacon Henry Hart, Deacon John LaLande, Deacon Paul Martin, Deacon James Maubach, Deacon William McClellan, Deacon Robert Murphy, Deacon Robert Myers, Deacon Paul Neakrase, Deacon Ronald Nevinger, Deacon Fred Sims, Deacon Richard Smith, Deacon Thomas Wachtel, and Deacon Richard Zimmerman.

Also in attendance were members of Class 10, scheduled to be ordained in May.


Following Mass, the deacons, deacon candidates and their wives gathered for a series of talks at the Spalding Pastoral Center that opened with a question-and-answer session with Bishop Jenky.

Father Shawn McKnight addresses the diaconate community. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The principal presenter for the convocation was Father Shawn McKnight, pastor of the Church of the Magdalen in Wichita, Kansas, and former head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.

In a morning talk titled “The Deacon and Apostolic Communion,” Father McKnight traced the history of the permanent diaconate from the early church through its restoration 50 years ago by Pope Paul VI.

“I very much appreciate the gift of God the diaconate is to the church,” said Father McKnight, who explored ways that the diaconate can develop and “be used most fruitfully in accomplishing the mission of the church today” while remaining in conformity and continuity to its historic form.

His afternoon presentation was titled “The Deacon and Homiletics.” The convocation closed with comments by Msgr. Nolan and a prayer by Sister Diane VandeVoorde, OSF, associate director.


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