The way the story is told, new Calgary Bishop Henry called two special people into his office. One was a priest who may have had a right to ask if he had earned retirement consideration. The other was the Chancellor of the Diocese. Bishop Henry commissioned Fr. Bill Trienekens and Sr. Maria Nakagawa to begin a diaconate program immediately. There was no way he was going to allow sentiment against the idea develop.
Fr. Bill and Sr. Maria asked him for a year to research what other dioceses had been doing to form deacons. He answered that, they could do all the research they wanted, but the diaconate formation process was to begin right away.
Since then, more than 50 permanent deacons have been ordained in the Diocese of Calgary. This is a legacy which has served the Calgary diocesan church since the first 12 were ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral 15 years ago. Three of our deacons had been previously ordained in other dioceses.
In a contradiction to the idea that deacons might undermine the priesthood, pastors started to ask Bishop Henry when one could be assigned to their parish.
Bishop Henry has always affirmed that the diaconate should not compromise marriages and families. We are grateful for so many gifts.
St. Paul tells Timothy, his co-worker in faith, that deacons “must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” [1 Tim. 3:9]. If we have been able to accomplish this to any extent, it has been inspired by the Apostolic witness of Bishop Henry who has shown himself “worthy of the calling to which (he) has been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience… and love” [Eph 4:1-2]. For this witness, we will always have hearts full of gratitude.
Deacons share in Christ's mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint ("character") which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the "deacon" or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church,1570)
The establishment of the diaconate took place with the ordination of the seven deacons described in the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 6:1-7) Among these deacons were St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and St. Philip the Deacon. While the permanent diaconate has always been maintained by the Eastern Church, it was at the Second Vatican Council that the restoration of the permanent diaconate was recommended for the Western Church. This restoration began in Canada in 1969 and in our own diocese in 1998 by Bishop Frederick Henry.
For information about the necessary qualifications and formation program for the permanent diaconate please contact:
Fr. Myles Gaffney, Director of Formation
Office of the Permanent Diaconate
For information regarding the ongoing formation of ordained deacons please contact:
Fr. Bryan Frank, Director of Ongoing Formation
Office of the Permanent Diaconate
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"Your smallest acts of love and kindness may quite well be the ones which change the world."
~Pope John Paul II
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The Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary is registered as a legal charity under its 1913 legislative act of incorporation and also federally with the Canada Revenue Agency. Charitable BN: 10790-9939-RR0076.